Last month I wrote about differentiating your business from your competitor. Today I want to dig further into your business to discuss customer service, and ways to prepare for the busy Holiday Season.

This post was written by Scott Drzonsc, National Sales Manager at Gearfire.

What are you doing differently this year to boost that customer experience? Exceptional customer service is not just the norm anymore. It’s expected, and it better be damn good! With so many options to voice your opinion (for example, social media), you need to make sure that you deliver on what you sell, as well as the service that precedes that purchase.

In 2016, Forbes Magazine reported that businesses lost $62 billion due to bad customer service.  Furthermore, a study was conducted asking 2,000 people if they switched businesses due to bad customer service. 49% of the individuals said YES, and 67% of those folks switched businesses multiple times!

So what does this mean to you, the business owner? In my opinion, we need to understand two things. First, customer service needs to have a plan in place, just like every other part of your business. Secondly, there will be customers in our lifetime that we just can’t please.

Customer service in ecommerce revolves around the purchase and user experience.

Ecommerce is challenging because YOU can’t be there as the potential customer shops your store virtually.  So how do we assist a customer in an ecommerce setting?

  • Easy navigation – Make sure that your ecommerce site is easy to navigate, and that you have the correct products or hot items clearly visible for the customer. This can include search function, categories and advertisements.
  • Easy checkout – Does your website have an easy checkout process? A study was conducted, and 27% of people abandon the checkout process because it is too complicated. Make it easy for them to make a purchase!
  • Easy contact – If there is a problem during the ecommerce user experience, how many different ways can the customer reach someone for assistance? Options can range from a phone number, email or live chat. Make sure contact options are clearly visible to the user!

Customer service does NOT end when a customer makes a purchase.

The customer has now made the purchase. What plan do you have in place to assist them post-purchase?  Here are a few ideas that will boost customer experience ratings, and ease the pain for the customer that needs to process a return.

  • Thank You – Do you contact or include a “Thank You” message for their purchase? Don’t forget to include ways to purchase more items, explain your return policy, or include a coupon for future purchases.
  • Easy Return Policy – Not only should it be easy to return a product, but your store’s return policies should be clearly defined on your ecommerce website. If possible, make sure that your return policy is clearly defined on the customers receipt that was delivered with the package.
  • Easy Contact – Is there an easy way for your customers to chat with someone about a return or additional service?
  • Easy Exchange – Make it easy for the customer to make an exchange for what they really want. A good practice is to always ask a customer returning an item this question: “is there something that you would like to exchange this item for instead?”

Some customers can be difficult. But they still expect great service

With tensions high during the holiday season to find that perfect gift, or when last minute shoppers are in high gear, it is good to have a plan in place to handle the customer who gets upset. What can you do with your staff to make sure we don’t have any shopper flare-ups this holiday season?.

  • Greeting – What is everyone on your staff saying when they answer a phone call, interact with a customer through email or greet a customer when they enter the store? Have a set policy in place for your staff. Get them to understand the importance of an inviting greeting. Here is a phone example:  “Happy Holidays from Gearfire, how may I help you today?”
  • Quick Response Time – How quickly do you respond to an upset customer? The quicker you respond, the quicker you can defuse. Respond as quickly as you can, and let the customer know they are being heard, and you understand their frustration. The longer you wait to respond, the more likely the customer is to share their “bad” experience with others and/or online.
  • Still not happy – What do you do if someone is still not happy with the product and service provided? My suggestion is to have the store owner or management make direct contact with the customer. Use it as a learning experience, and make sure to really hear what they are upset about. Let them do the talking… and listen! Take your findings back to your team and coach them. Secondly, offer the upset customer another opportunity to use your services again. You can offer them an additional discount on their next purchase or provide a “value added” service. For example, if you own a range, free range time and some ammo usually works. There is a cost associated to you, but the customer will feel that appreciation, and share their experience with others or online.

I’m still amazed at times when I receive poor customer service. There are just too many options to find what I’m looking for nowadays. But, if you deliver an extraordinary level of customer service, you will have me as a customer for life!!!

Be sure to make your customers happy over the holidays and deliver on your customer service plan that you create with your team.

Thank you for taking the time to read about ecommerce business strategies. I hope that you find this information helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please share in the comments box. I would love to hear from you!