2015 is technically our fourth year in practicing customer service, as our very first customer came to us in January, 2012. And in these three + years, we have learned a few things about customer service, and really, how to best serve graciously.
From the beginning, we viewed our customer as someone to serve, because in reality, the customer was allowing us to pursue our passion and in a subtle way, validating our pursuit. Customers are little gifts, and serving them is a way of saying, "thank you". Now, there have been a few that have made this "service" mindset really challenging, REALLY challenging, but in the end, it is always beneficial to try and understand their perspective, and do what needs to be done to resolve the conflict with grace.
Here is a list of five practical things that can be done to best serve your customers, especially if you run business through an ecommerce platform. Surely you're already doing most of these, but it's always good to be reminded, especially on a Monday!
- Response Time Consistency :: If you're the type that responds immediately to push that sale through, keep this speedy consistency with your customers even when they check in on their order, and especially after they have received their order. It builds rapport, a trust between the customer and your business. And if you're the type that takes a half day or couple days to respond, that's fine too, just maintain the consistency. This shows your customer that you're not just about the sale.
- Packaging :: Packaging can make the biggest difference and shows the customer that you value your own product, and value how they receive it. And in a way it reversely teaches the customer to value the transaction as a whole. If you're looking for packaging ideas, we'd recommend Pinterest. <- Click this link, or search for keywords like "Branding" - "Small Business Packaging" etc. Look for inspiration that matches your aesthetic, and practically, your product.
- Connect :: We live in busy times, I guess a more realistic description would be that we live in "distracted times". With your customer try to make conversation, it really makes a big difference. Comment on where they're from, or what they're doing with your product. Don't be afraid to make conversation, ask questions, or even send along emails here and there to share something with them. Obviously you want to be authentic and natural, and the more intentional you are with your customers, the more these connections flow.
- Handling the Small Fires :: Since most of our sales come to us as mirrors, being that they are large and fragile, we've had to put out quite a few "fires". There was a season in 2013 where we thought that we might give up because it was so challenging. But without the damaged mirrors we wouldn't be where we are now. Accept the challenge as a blessing, that could be the first step, and then respond the customer. If there is a damage work with the customer on replacing the product (if it is replaceable), give them a fair timeline and share in their frustration. It's easy to share your own frustrations, but it's better to share in their frustration. And don't be afraid to file claims and work with the shipping companies once you've worked with your customer. :: If you're working with an unhappy customer give them options, maybe they can send the product back to you for a refund, maybe ask if they want to keep it and offer a partial refund. Depending on what you make/sell this will vary, but in the end you want to leave the customer feeling like you honored them. **Disclaimer** Sometimes it's easy to let a sour customer take advantage, just use discretion here, and do what you think is best.
- Repeats and Referrals and Family :: These are the best customers to have! And with well practiced customer service they will come flooding in, along with the beautiful reviews and testimonies. With these customers there is an automatic rapport already established, and they make having a business really exciting.
Thank you for reading!!