Your customers form the basis of your business, so looking after their needs is a must. This doesn’t just apply when they’re clicking “buy”, but throughout the entire buying cycle, from the earliest stages of research through to post-purchase support.
Every interaction you have with a customer is an opportunity to show that you care, and it’s worth the effort. Done well, customer service can turn one-off shoppers into life-long customers – and can fuel word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are 10 top tips for ensuring that your customer service is on point.
- Be friendly
Although your customers can’t see your smile over the phone or online, they can still get a sense of being welcomed and appreciated through your written communication or your telephone manner. Prepare cheerful, friendly emails and invite customers to contact you with questions or queries – and go that little bit further by asking whether there’s anything else they need or that you can help with.
- Be communicative
Time is of the essence in retail, and especially in an eCommerce environment where differing time zones and shipping times can add additional wait time to the purchasing process. Being responsive to enquiries and complaints will reduce potential frustration while showing that you care – very often a complaint can be turned into a positive experience if acted on promptly and thoughtfully.
Tip: Speedy is one thing, but rushed is another. Don’t be so quick to respond that you end up making mistakes or affecting the quality of your customer’s experience. If you need time to address an issue, promptly acknowledge the customer’s message with an assurance that you’re looking into it.
- Be open to feedback
Understanding a customer’s experience is key to being able to improve on your service quality- or to keep on doing a good thing. Customers are generally more likely to tell you when they’re unhappy than when they’re pleased, but it pays to seek out feedback to get the full picture. Send out surveys or write an email explicitly asking about their customer experience. Asking for honest opinions takes bravery, but it’s a must to ensure you’re providing the best shopping experience you can.
- Be thoughtful
You probably have your major bases covered, but don’t forget the small things. Sometimes it’s these little gestures and extras that really make an experience stand out for a customer. Email tracking information, package an item with stylish wrapping paper, or include a personal note thanking a customer for their purchase.
- Be knowledgeable
As a shop owner, you’re the expert in your business – and that includes the products that you sell. Ensure that you know your products inside and out, and that you can deal with any questions or issues relating to pricing, shipping, and returns. If something stumps you, refer the customer on to someone with the required know-how, or let them know that you’re looking into it.
- Be surprising
Show your customers you care by offering small tokens of appreciation during events and holidays, or on special occasions such as their birthday. It’s a great way to build rapport and to show that you value them as more than someone who buys your products. You don’t need to get extravagant – a card or a bag of sweets can suffice.
- Be empathetic
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to think through an experience or situation they way they might. This can be handy from anything to resolving problems to considering whether a product description hits the mark to whether your store design is appealing, on-brand and intuitive.
- Be engaging
New customers are great, but life-long customers are the holy grail of retail. Put effort into building strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers – not only will you meet some great people along the way, but these customers will happily help market your business by spreading the word amongst friends and family.
- Be generous
A little generosity never goes astray, whether in your personal life or in business. Look after your customers by offering discounts, giveaways or other special promotions that recognise their loyalty. These can work particularly well when tied into special events, holidays and occasions – as they show that you’re in touch with the things that are important to your customers.
- Be thankful
We’re all taught as kids that “please” and “thank you” are magic words. This remains true in the business world. Always take the time to thank your customers for choosing to support your store and products, and show gratitude for your customers’ patience when it comes to things such as resolving issues or delays.
It’s time to provide great customer service
With luck you’ve ticked off every one of the 10 tips above – if so, congratulations on putting your customers first and on the solid business you’re building as a result.
But it never hurts to go that little bit further or try that little bit more. Whether you’re a customer service pro or someone just cutting their teeth on retail, think about the things you value when you’re shopping for a product – and try to offer that same quality experience to your customers.