Thursday, September 20, 2012

Customer Service Basics

Customer Service Basics
Most of what I am writing here is just common curtesy.   The rules for selling on line really aren't different that selling in person except for a few points.  The problem comes when we forget that the message on the other end comes from a real live person!    Thanks to the popularity of social networks like Twitter or Facebook, customer complaints are no longer just between you and the customer.  One of the best ways to handle the complaint is before it happens.  By that I mean if you keep the communication open between you and your customer in most cases you will alleviate if not avoid any complaints.

Here are some tips for you to follow:
1.  You have a comment from someone liking your work what should you do?
This one is simple but very easily overlooked.  First you must decipher if are they a colleague or a potential customer.  When I get a praising message I first check to see if they have an on-line store and whether they make similar items as I do.  If they do I thank them and comment on their work as well.   If they sell different items than I, they could be potential customers also, or are indeed customer be sure to thank them and tell them that if the have any questions to contact you.  You really should answer as quickly as you can.   If you have a full time job also you should set aside time every night to answer questions and comments!

2.  You have a message questioning whether one of your items comes in a different color?
Here is what you should do:  If you don't mind custom orders by all means answer the question and tell them when it is ready you will list it and email them immediately.  And do it.   If you don't have it available in their color or if you just don't take custom orders you must let them know ASAP.  Don't keep them hanging, because you don't want to loose them as a customer.  Trust me nothing can be accomplished by stringing the customer along and in the long run they will thank you.

3.   Great you have an order!  Communications don't stop here!  Send them a thank you message immediately.  Send them another one to let them know that the package has shipped.  I send a thank you note with my orders also.  Be sure to include either your business card or information on the card for questions and for more orders.

4.  I do a follow up also thanking them again and reminding them what you have available or a link to your shop.

5.  Complaints!  Item wasn't as expected!  Definately appoligize immediately...  Ask how you can make it right... I had a customer once that ordered a key chain.  The listing had the actual size listed but the photograph made it look larger!...Because the selling price was very low.. I told him he could keep it, and I refunded his sales money less shipping....he was happy.  To me, it wasn't worth having an unhappy customer....  But if the sales price was higher I would of definately had him return it, and either refunded his money or given him store credit.

Customer Service is the most important rule.  Honesty is the Best Policy. Integrity – Be honest and own up to your mistakes. Communicate what you plan to do to change or prevent the same mistake from happening again. Don’t be fooled into believing that a regular ‘mea culpa’ will get you off the hook. At some point the plan to fix the problem must take effect!