For your business to succeed, you’ll need to build your online reputation like it’s your most valued asset. Achieving positive word of mouth requires you to respect customers’ money and time, and allows for very few mistakes.
Dealing with a constant flow of questions, feedback and criticism isn’t for everyone. Among other things, giving good customer service should require you to:
- Respond to each customer message right away, with courtesy and enough detail to solve the issue – regardless of whether the request seems courteous or well thought out. It can sometimes take reading or listening to a message several times to determine how best to answer.
- Fulfill orders promptly, and provide plenty of communication about order status. The right shopping cart can help automate this process, sending personalized emails as orders are received and then shipped.
- Always be on the lookout for valid feedback that could indicate you’re not providing the right information on your website or enough communication after the sale; start with the assumption that customers are the experts on how your business looks to the rest of the world.
- As soon as you can, publish a toll-free telephone number for customer service. You can start by getting a low-cost service that forwards the number to your cell phone, and then eventually forward those calls to trained staff that you contract, say, at an outsourcing service.
- Provide a sensible money-back warranty and fast, hassle-free refunds.
You’ll find that some emails requiring individual answers – for example, requests for exchanges or returns – are repeated many times. For these questions, save examples of your best replies to paste into new messages.
Above all, start with the understanding that your real job is to make customers happy. Never allow a service issue to stay unresolved long enough to result in bad word of mouth or a customer calling the payment card issuer.
Our next article about problem customers talks about a few special cases.