Quality customer service is the lifeblood of any business.
If you understand that it costs more to find a customer than it does to keep one then you will appreciate the importance of good, quality customer service.
Unfortunately, with the rapid rise of online businesses it has become apparent that the focus has turned to pleasing the search engines as opposed to pleasing the customer.
I'm not disregarding the importance of good search engine optimization but what good is it if you can't provide good customer service? You may gave gained a visitor but did you find a customer?
Your online business goals should be about out offering quality information, speed, convenience and customer service. Lose any one of those elements and you will lose potential business. Your visitors want to find up-to-date information fast, they want to immediately understand what your site is offering them, they want fast solutions, easy navigation and they want good service. You must be able to respond quickly to questions, emails and put products in their hands fast.
Here are ten customer service tips that will impress any customer and keep them coming back for more.
1. Build your site and services with your customer in mind. Develop an “attitude" of good customer service by creating a site that that has your visitor in mind.
To do this, be clear about what you're offering and what your site is about. Great content doesn't mean much if your visitors can't find it, so strive to organize your site with titles and headings that are clear and descriptive with information that is logically organized and structured. If you have a call to action such as a newsletter sign-up or special contest, don't be afraid to instruct your visitor to participate.
2. Keep the ordering process simple and straight forward. Consider all possibilities of questions, problems and issues that a customer might encounter. Eliminate all possibilities of confusion.
3. Immediately following order placement, your customer should receive a confirmation email thanking them for their order. When the order has shipped, your customer should receive a second e-mail stating that the product has shipped.
4. Exceed customer expectations. If your policy states that orders are received with in 5-7 business days, try to achieve deliveries in 3-4 business days. It's always pleasurable to receive something sooner than you had anticipated, not to mention your reputation will have just jumped ten-fold.
5. State your guarantees, shipping and refund policies clearly. If you work in a retail business make it easy for your customers to return items. Simple things like including return labels within the packaging helps tremendously. Provide shipping costs prior to checkout instead of surprising them with shipping costs upon payment.
Always provide addresses and working phone numbers of your business on every page of your site. The worst thing a customer can experience is to place an online order, have a problem, then call a phone number and get no response or call back. A sure way to create frustration and develop a bad reputation.
6. Utilize live-help capabilities. Not everyone will utilize the services of live help, however just the ability to have a conversation with a live representative goes a long way to make the shopping experience more satisfying and help the customer feel more secure.
Even though credit card security has come a long way over the past few years, many people still feel more comfortable providing credit card information to a live person instead of an online form. Also, human interaction can increase profits as well because a live person can effectively cross-sell and up-sell to your customer.
7. Check on your customers after placing an order. Thank them a second time for ordering. Solicit your services should they have questions or problems. Also keep your customers aware of new offerings via e-mail (but only with their permission). You'll give them additional value without their having to return to your site.
8. Provide a FAQ's section on your website. Did you know that more than 80% of all customer questions are usually answered by just 20% of a support knowledge base. A frequently asked questions page on your website will answer their questions before they ask them by allowing your customers to be self-serving while saving you time and money.
9. Provide a simple search engine on your site. Most internet users prefer using a site search engine as opposed to browsing through pages and links to find what they need. A convenience web surfers always appreciate.
10. Let your customers rate you and your site. Ask your customers to complete a simple customer service survey. Keep the survey quick and simple and allow for comments. Take careful note of what your customers say and work to make improvements accordingly.
In case you haven't heard it before, “Customers Make Paydays Possible". Provide what they're looking for, keep them happy and most importantly, learn from them.
About the Author:
Elizabeth McGee has spent 20 years in the service and support industry with companies such as Hitachi and National Semiconductor. Elizabeth has moved her expertise to internet marketing helping businesses find trusted Marketing Tools, enhance customer service, build a home business online. Sign up for Elizabeth's free newsletter at: http://www.homenotion.com