In many respects, operating an online store is easier than managing a brick-and-mortar business. There are less overhead costs, fewer (if any) employees to supervise and no set business hours to adhere to. There’s also less customer interaction, which leads many proprietors to treat customer service as an afterthought. However, the fact that you’re not speaking with patrons face-to-face doesn’t make politeness and professionalism any less important. Putting customer service on the backburner can have a host of undesirable consequences for an up-and-coming online business. If your store develops a reputation for treating patrons poorly, negative word of mouth is likely to spread and cause considerable damage to the business’s reputation. To ensure that this fate doesn’t befall your store, put the following pointers to good use.
Be Prompt With Shipping
There’s no denying that we’re living in the age of instant gratification. When someone makes a purchase online, they want their order shipped and delivered in the timeliest possible manner. As such, failing to ship orders in an expedient fashion can be a source of great consumer frustration. In their receipts and order summaries, many online stores include projected shipping and delivery dates. Needless to say, the former can have a direct impact on the latter. The sooner an order ships, the sooner it’s likely to arrive. When orders don’t arrive within the projected delivery window, this often means that they weren’t shipped on time, and customers won’t hesitate to call attention to this when contacting you. You can save both yourself and your patrons a considerable amount of hassle by holding up your end of the bargain when it comes to shipping. Additionally, if an order fails to ship on time, it’s important that you take responsibility and compensate the customer in some manner.
Answer Emails in a Timely Manner
Since online retail lacks the face-to-face component of traditional retail, it’s much easier to ignore queries and complaints from customers. After all, if the people who want your attention aren’t directly in front of you, there’s no sense of urgency to address their concerns. It can sometimes to be difficult to view an email – especially one from someone outside of your inner circle – as a communiqué from an actual person. However, adopting such a laidback approach to customer communications can cause harm to your store’s visitor numbers and reputation. If customers feel ignored, they’re unlikely to continue supporting your store. If you can’t be troubled to communicate with them, they can’t be troubled to give you their business. For best results, make an effort to answer every email you receive during normal business hours within three hours. Should circumstances outside your control force you to take longer, be sure to apologize for your delayed response.
Protect Customers from Cybercriminals
Hackers, malware developers and other cybercriminals love targeting online stores. The bevy of financial information these stores have on file is often too tempting for these unsavory characters to pass up. Your customers are placing a great of trust in your store by sharing credit card numbers and other personal data, and the onus is on you to reward that trust. Outfitting your site with a cutting-edge cyber security apparatus, like the one discussed in this SiteLock review, can go a long way in keeping online criminals at bay.
Be Willing to Admit Mistakes
As anyone who’s worked in customer service can confirm, this type of job entails choosing your battles. An unwillingness to own up to mistakes will not endear you to customers and may ultimately cause lasting damage to your store’s reputation. With that in mind, avoid adopting a confrontational or combative tone when dealing with customers who come to you with problems and be willing to admit when you’re in the wrong. Showing humility can make an unsatisfied customer adopt an attitude of forgiveness and increase their likelihood of giving you repeat business.
Even in the digital age, good customer service is paramount to the success of any business. Thanks to social media outlets and consumer feedback sites, shoppers have more platforms to make their voices heard than ever before. These days, a few scathing reviews have the power to change a store’s fortunes overnight, so good customer service should be foremost on the mind of any proprietor. In your efforts to provide the best possible customer service, remember to ships orders on schedule, answer emails in a timely manner, prioritize security and be willing to own up to your mistakes.