11 tips for better online customer service
by Keris Lahiff
Online customer service is imperative if you want to retain a loyal customer base in an increasingly web-based business world. Essentially, doing business online means communicating with your customers in a different way – without the intimacy and interaction a shopfront affords, your website needs to create a connection with the customer.
“Online customers are literally invisible to you (and you to them),” says Micah Solomon, international customer service expert and entrepreneur. “It’s easy to shortchange them emotionally. But this lack of visual and tactile presence makes it even more crucial to create a sense of personal, human-to-human connection in the online arena.”
Here are some tips on how to provide better online customer service:
1. Get real
Offer the option of talking to a real person. If your business doesn’t have a shopfront, ensure your contact details can be clearly found on the website, including a phone number. A website without any point of contact is a frustrating experience for a customer when they encounter a problem or need a question answered.
2. Details, details, details
When selling a product online, ensure enough information is provided, such as descriptions, specifications, pricing and delivery details. Since the product isn’t tangible to the customer, they need to know as much as possible to allow for smart purchasing decisions and ensure they aren’t disappointed when the product is delivered.
3.Give a little
Provide value adds to the sales process, such as automated tracking or discounts on large orders. These will make the customer’s online shopping experience even more valuable and create a sense of loyalty.
4. Be open to suggestion
Offer the option of feedback, especially at the end of the purchase, so that customers have a forum to make suggestions or compliment the service. Follow up once the product has arrived so that you can monitor the entire sales process and its effectiveness.
5. Mind your manners
Automate responses throughout the sales process. For example, if a customer sends an email, automate a response thanking them for their enquiry and give an approximate time for someone to contact them.
6. Be safe, not sorry
7. Create an experience
Go the extra mile when packaging the product. In a top-end store, a customer will receive their purchase nicely packaged in a branded bag, and sometimes even gift-wrapped. Approach the delivery of the product the same way – ensure the customer is excited to receive the product and thinks it’s Christmas when it comes to unwrapping.
8. Make friends and influence people
Create a personal way of connecting with the customer, whether that be through personalised, follow-up emails with special discounts or suggesting other products they may enjoy.
9. Watch your words
Since most of the business’ relationship with the customer will be online, think carefully about how you engage with them. In emails, for example, the customer will have no idea of your tone. To compensate for this, exaggerate courtesies and reread all correspondence before hitting that send button.
10. Make and meet commitments
Customers like certainty. When conducting business online, give deadlines for the business’ actions. For example, instead of saying ‘we’ll get back to you in a couple of days’, give an exact time they can expect a response by. More importantly, when giving a commitment, ensure you can keep it. And if there is a chance you cannot, keep the customer informed as to the progress.
11. Ask for feedback
In-store purchases have the advantage of being able to read the customer’s reactions throughout the sales process. For those selling online, the business will be selling blindly. To gauge whether your customer service is up to scratch, ask the customer for their feedback.
In the vast web environment, adding a human element to your website will help you stand out from the crowd and allow for better management of online customer service.
If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.
Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.
Published on: Monday, December 05, 2011blog comments powered by Disqus