When it Comes to Customer Service, Think Communication Galore…
The most important thing you can do for your customer in business is communication…Galore! There is no such thing as too much communication with a customer during a transaction.
I’m always surprised at the number of people who thank me for my customer service and communications on Etsy, or for responding quickly, and I get a lot of 100% positive feedback based on my customer communication alone.
This tells me that others are not communicating, since I get this comment so much, and the customers are so elated like they never see it.
So I’m writing up how I like to provide customer service through communication during a transaction. And in particular for Etsy, but this can apply to all business transactions and customer service.
Good Customer Communication from the Start
One of the worst things after you purchase something as a customer, is to never hear from the seller. You have no idea if your credit card was charged, if they got your order, and if your item is even coming.
Even if your product is great, you can lose customers based solely on poor customer service communication.
I have a fabric supplier who does this to me as a customer. I keep them as back up and my last resort, and if they would only communicate with me more, I would use them all the time, because their fabric quality and prices are excellent.
So, even with highest quality and best prices they lose, because I can’t have my customers hanging, because I’m left and hanging as the customer.
Good Customer Communication Fixes Things That Go Wrong
The other thing that communication does for you is build trust, and when something goes wrong outside of your control, because you have established your credibility though communication, these obstacles can be overcome.
There was a time when the Canadian Postal Service went on strike, and my customer’s package was lost for good. I had worked with this customer to get her custom order just right, and to make sure that it arrived in time for a Wedding she had to attend. I also asked her to contact me, or let me know when it arrived, and sure enough, it didn’t.
Because I had established a good rapport, and covered all of the details in my communications, she trusted me to solve the problem, and worked with me through the mess.
I ended up sewing another order last minute, and shipping overnight express, as we checked each other’s e-mails hourly, to see if she finally got it, or if it finally bounced back to me. I was able to keep her happy and satisfied through that giant fumble, but I know it was because I laid the groundwork first.
Customer Communication Tells Them You’re On Their Side
I’ve had a few other events like this, and I am always able to keep everyone happy, because they know I’m accessible and upfront.
Here are some key communications to keep your customer service effective, especially when things go wrong…
*If anything goes wrong, always thank your customers for pointing it out, and never get defensive.
*Always apologize, and offer a way to fix something, or ask them what they think you should do.
*Let them know that you are on their side.
Here are the points of communication that are vital to establishing a good reputation with excellent customer service.
Yes, it does take more of your time, but when customers have the ability to leave good or bad feedback for the public to see, you only get one shot…
After receiving an order, contact your customer by name ASAP to let them know you received their payment and confirm their order. Recite back the dollar amount of the transaction and the details of the order, so that they know you got the right information.
If the payment is still processing, let them know that it is in progress, and you will contact them again when the payment clears.
During this initial contact, if anything is unclear, you can address it, like the customer’s color choice, if the item is a gift, and do they need a gift note, or if the shipping address isn’t clear or confirmed. If you need to hear back from them, let them know that you are looking forward to it.
I keep templates of my e-mail responses for all of these situations, so that I can just copy and paste the basic information, and change any details necessary to save time.
Once you have all of the details you need to complete their order, it is always good to tell them when their item will be ready, and that you will write to them again to confirm that their order was shipped.
Let your customer know that you shipped their item, and give the shipping address to show it is correct.
Always thank them for their purchases and business in every communication, and if they have given you any personal details, address those as well. Also, let them know that you appreciate hearing back from them about their packages arriving and for their feedback.
I think if you establish that you are a person, and not just some business(thing) in your communications, it makes the whole process much more human, and yes, forgiving for any arising and unforeseen mishaps.
*Just a few very important communication tips…
Use customer’s first names in your communications. Like I mentioned, the two of you are people. Keep it professional, but personable.
I use “Dear” and “Sincerely” in my letters. Always thank them, and always include your business links and information they would need to contact you.
I generate a lot of traffic back to my shop based on my e-mail signature links alone. The more communication you have with your signature at the end, the more your customers see this information.
Just remember to not do any of this…
Customer Service and Communication is About Respect & Hospitality
Ultimately, treat your customers like guests in your home. They are special, and they should know it from you, because you have communicated it so…Galore!