If there’s anything worse than bad service, it’s receiving bad service after you’ve been told how great the service is. It’s much better to actually provide good service than deliver platitudes about it.
This can be automated by your E-Commerce package or you may choose to send a personal note. It is much easier for small companies to offer such personal touches than for corporates with their larger volume of orders.
If you can afford it, pro-actively monitor deliveries. Find out from your carriers what didn’t get delivered as promised, then contact your customer to let them know what’s happening. Customers will think this is great service, and it turns a failure into a demonstration that you care.
If you have a printed catalog, ask if they would like a copy when they order. Don’t feel that the web is your only channel – you have multiple routes to your customer. It is much easier and cheaper to sell more to an existing customer than it is to win a new one. Research suggests that customers who buy through multiple channels are the most profitable customers.
The Internet is generally very impersonal, so you need to communicate that your business is run by human beings who care about their customers. This also reassures them that they have a contact, if there is any problem – it is much better than a faceless corporation.
Take all the chances you have to exceed expectations and build your reputation. If you need to call a customer for any reason – for example for security purposes, if the credit card and delivery addresses are different – take the opportunity to offer something extra such as a gift-wrap service. This helps protect you without offending the customer.
Never, ever blame anyone else – even the courier. Nothing is more infuriating for the consumer than when a supplier blames some third-party over whom they have no control.
Customers appreciate it when a manager calls, rather than the most junior person – it makes them feel important to the company. Also the manager has more power to offer compensation or to rectify the problem. An apology works wonders, especially if it is accompanied by a token to acknowledge the problem, such as a discount voucher against future orders.
Contact customers, or a cross section of customers, some time after delivery and check that they are happy with what they bought and with your service to them. You can do this by email or by telephone. This gives you feedback on your operation and also gives you another legitimate chance to sell something. Your customer may have ordered one of something to try it out – if they are happy, you may get a larger order immediately. If they have any problems, apologize and deal with them.
It is everyone’s problem if a customer is unhappy. Never let one department or staff member criticize another; customers will not be reassured about a company that is warring with itself. Focus on beating your competitors, not your colleagues.
Treat customer complaints as an opportunity, not a problem. As well as exposing specific problems that need to be fixed, customer complaints are a great opportunity to learn and improve. They should not be buried away and forgotten, but analyzed. It’s also good to share both positive and negative feedback with everyone in the organization. If a staff member is mentioned by name, pass this on for praise but don’t publish it in the case of criticism. This reminds everyone how important it is to keep customers happy – and provides a well-earned pat on the back when things go well.