Even if you master all of the Internet marketing strategies out there–sales copywriting, search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, and social media networking to name a few–they are not worth a dime if you forget about basic customer service skills. All successful businesses understand and properly implement customer service skills and all share one commonality: satisfied customers.
As the old saying goes, a happy customer will tell one or two people, while an unhappy customer will tell 10. It truly pays to keep your customers happy. Especially when operating an online business.
As an e-commerce merchant, not only could an upset customer tell 10 of his friends, but he could also write about the poor products and customer service support he received in a variety of places. He could post on his personal blog, comment on other people’s blogs, voice his opinion on Facebook and Twitter, write a negative review directly on your website, or even criticize you on your own forum or message board.
Most importantly, once someone has written negative feedback about you online, it can be very difficult to get it removed. This means anyone can come across this negative review, including potential customers. While proper customer service skills could cost you some time and money, implementing bad customer service will cost you even more.
Below are four simple strategies to help you improve your customer service skills.
To help your customers know exactly what is going on with their purchase, use automated emails to thank customers for their orders, welcome them to your email list, or send transaction notices letting customers know that their items have shipped. Many customers have come to expect these courtesies, but not all e-commerce merchants provide them.
As an added element of surprise, you can include a coupon or discount off their next purchase thanking them for their business. You can also provide extra helpful information regarding the product they just bought from you. Once you know your customer has received his goods, you can send another automated email asking if he is happy with his purchase and if you can be of any further assistance.
This type of follow-up may eliminate any possible feelings of buyer’s remorse as well as reinforce the positive feelings your customer has toward your business.
A support page will answer most of the questions your customers and potential customers might have about your products or services. Depending on your type of business, you can include a variety of sub-pages in your support section. For instance, you can have a FAQ page, a page with supportive and helpful articles, a page that helps customers with your application process, etc. (Check out the Instabill Merchant Support page for more ideas.)
You can also create a special support email address, such as info[at]mysite.com, which will help you keep track of all of your customer service questions. This customer service skill will help you figure out what FAQs you should include as well as other types of sub-pages.
Oftentimes when you respond to a customer’s concern promptly and personally, he or she will generate more business for you by means of word-of-mouth marketing. You can even convert angry customers into devoted fans if you pay them the right attention and treat the customer as king. Acknowledge your mistake and fix the problem immediately.
There are many instances when a customer (or even a potential customer) needs to talk to or email you directly. One of the best customer service skills you can implement is making it super easy for people to contact you. Do not hide this information in a deep, dark corner of your website. You can use buttons that direct customers to your contact page or pop-up form. You should also provide your business’s contact information on every message you send.
People love to take short surveys, especially when they are unsatisfied. Send your customers a short questionnaire regarding the products or services they purchased from you as well as what you (the business owner) can do to make it better. If the requests are reasonable, implement new techniques and practices to improve your business.
This customer service skill will make your customers will feel like you are truly listening to them—because you are!—and will more than likely return for more goods or services.
Remember, you do not have to pay top dollar for top-quality customer service skills and you do not have to spend a fortune giving away free products or large discounts. Even a simple gesture like thanking a customer for his or her purchase can help you maintain a successful business. Most importantly, keep in mind that automating your daily customer service tasks will give you more time to respond to customer concerns and complaints, making your overall customer service skills faster and better.