Business Operations Business Process Marketing

How to Deliver Great Customer Service as an Online Business

As the age-old retail advice goes, it’s easier to retain an existing customer than it is to lure in a new one. Moreover, small improvements in customer retention can yield sizeable increases in profitability – since the majority of your sales are coming from a minority of repeat customers. In the digital age, customers are better able than ever to take their business elsewhere. But by providing exceptional customer service at every turn, you’ll ensure that they never have a reason to.

But what does great customer service look like for an online business? Let’s take a look.

Be Available

When customers have a question, or a problem, it’s your opportunity to impress them.  Timely and effective customer service is the hallmark of a great company.  The longer that your customers have to wait, the more likely those customers will be to navigate away to a competitor’s website. If you provide multiple means of contacting your customer service representatives, including email, telephone, and social media, and even live chat. You should aim to be as responsive and helpful as possible across each and every channel. Customers can tell when they’re being stalled or put off – and they don’t appreciate it.

Encourage Reviews

Sites like Trustpilot helps your customers to take the leap to do business with a new or unfamiliar business. By cultivating a high score on your customer reviews, you will provide yourself with a powerful marketing tool, with which to draw in new customers. Incentivise reviews simply by asking for them. 

Here are 3 ways to encourage more reviews:

1. Ask your customers for reviews.

Many customers leave reviews online only when they love – or hate a business. You need to get more of your loyal customers to leave reviews by asking for feedback.  A surprising number of people will respond to a simple request to do something positive for you, especially if you ask sincerely and give a good reason for the request.  Try something like this:

 “Did we meet your expectations?  Please let others know about your positive experience with us by leaving us a short review. Helping others know about your great experience with us helps us grow our business, keep our prices down, and provide you with even better experiences in the future”.

2. Create incentives for positive reviews

Many platforms such as Google discourage the offering of discounts in exchange for reviews, however you can create other kinds of incentives for your customers to leave positive feedback. Try using  social media and online voting to find out about your customers’ favourite aspects of your business services or products.  You can reward some portion of the participants with some sort of prize in exchange. The thrill of the potential for winning a prize makes a great incentive to leave a review.

3. Make it easy to leave reviews

The very best ways to get online reviews is to make it easier for your clients to leave them. The use of a simple star rating function on your order confirmation page is a great example of making it easier to leave reviews.  You can also embed such a star rating function in your follow-up emails. In addition make sure that you have created a profile on Yelp, Google Local and Trustpilot and all other review sites that may be specific to your products or industry.

Respond to positive reviews to cement that feelgood experience with happy customers. Respond to negative reviews to resolve issues, and to demonstrate to disinterested readers that you’re willing to be constructive and learn from your mistakes.

Keep Customers Informed

Thanks to modern logistics, it’s possible to track a package as it moves from one place to another with incredible precision. This provides businesses with an opportunity to keep their customers informed of when the package is out for delivery. If there’s an unexpected delay, you can limit the damage by being upfront about it. 

This is particular important where items have had to be sent back because something’s gone wrong. Provide regular updates, and don’t wait for the customer to call you. If they have to chase you, they’re going to be unhappy about it.

Measure yourself

Bad customer service is a little like bad breath. You might not know you have it, until you start asking people to tell you honestly whether you are. Asking for feedback will allow you to refine your approach, and thus eliminate costly mistakes in the future.

There are a few ways of doing this. You might consult customers directly through online surveys, perhaps offering a prize for doing so in the form of a voucher (or a chance of winning a voucher). Or you might pay third parties to pose as customers, and compose a mystery shopping report. Metrics like waiting times can also allow you to improve the customer experience in very small increments over time.