great customer service

Have you experienced great customer service recently?  Have you offered great service to your customers recently?  What about great customer service when shopping online or selling online?

Offering great customer service to your customers may be more important online than anywhere else.  Whilst it is easy enough for a customer to walk out of a bricks and mortar store, or just walk past, it is even easier for customers and potential customers to go elsewhere online.

Great customer service isn’t about always getting things right.  It is also about how you deal with your customer when things go wrong.  Just recently I had what turned out to be a great experience with an online purchase.  I purchased a small item on ebay – costing only a few dollars.  It turned out that the company was out of stock of that product.  I received a very nice email telling me the item was out of stock and apologising (yes, feeling disappointed at this point).  Then the email went on to say that they had already issued a refund AND had sent an alternate product (getting the refund without having to wait was a great start, then being provided an alternate product was a huge plus for this company).  The alternate product, whilst not exactly what I wanted, will do the job and what could have been a very annoying experience was turned into a very pleasant one.

Of course you can’t always give a refund and also provide an alternate product free.  However when things go wrong, look for a way to make it a positive experience.  The first thing to look at is your communication with your customer.  Bad communication can make even the best situation go bad, however good communication can help rescue a bad situation.  If something goes wrong, prompt and courteous communication can make a difference.

The next thing to look at is how can you rectify the situation.  Is an acknowledgement or apology required.  Is a refund in order or a replacement product?  Maybe you can offer an inexpensive item free as a good will gesture, or a free upgrade, discount voucher or servicing or whatever suits your situation.  Simply rectifying the situation as quickly as you can after you become aware of the problem may be enough.

Next take a look at how you can avoid that situation in the first place.  Was an item that was ordered out of stock?  What process can you put in place to ensure that this does not happen again.  If an item was damaged when it arrived at the customer, maybe you need to look at your packaging or shipping methods.  Is there a communication problem?  How can you fix it in the future?

And when everything is working well and you have happy customers, don’t forget that a little extra service can make for even more repeat business and great referrals.  What special touch can you add?  You might consider sending an email, letter or a card thanking the customer for their purchase, particularly for larger purchases.  Add a personal touch to make it special.

Don’t forget the simple stuff – be prompt, courteous and reliable, make your website easy to navigate and provide relevant information which is easy to find.  I hate it when I can’t find out how much delivery is until after I create an account – puts me off every time.  Is there something you are doing (or not doing) that is turning potential customers away?