As ecommerce business owners, we tend to think in terms of policies, inventory, and operations. But the most important part of our businesses is customers. A customer-centric organization considers how every decision will impact the customer experience.
Here are some ways good customer service can be incorporated into your store policies.
Make It Easy to Return Products
If you know a customer bought a product from you, don’t require him or her to produce a receipt or prove they purchased it. With today’s sophisticated customer relationship management systems, it’s imperative to know the buying history and habits of your customers. A robust CRM will come in handy in so many scenarios.
Make Free Shipping Easy
If you offer free shipping, be sure your shopper is made aware. If a purchase qualifies for free shipping, make it automatic so that free shipping is tallied before payment in the checkout process. Don’t require customers to look up a coupon code online or on your website.
Honor Your Warranties
My bed manufacturer made me jump through many hoops, with several inspections, before it finally honored its own warranty. I found out later that our problem is a known issue and the manufacturer was hoping to drag it out long enough so the warranty would run out or we gave up. Needless to say, this is terrible customer service.
Make Customers Lives Easier, Not Harder
Leading retailers offer easy technical support and return procedures. Forget rigid company policies or processes that are designed for your internal efficiency alone. Design your customer service and procedures outside in — make it easier for customers.
Dialogue with Customers
You will add value to your company's products and services by offering something customers want and need. Monitor all customer interactions — your call centers, your emails, social media. What are customers saying about you and to you?
What and how are your customers engaging your on your blog or your website? Are you providing a way to dialogue? When was the last time you surveyed customers? What questions did you ask? What did you do with the data? What actions did you take as a result of the survey? How are customers using your product? What features are missing and what would like to see in the next iteration of your product?
Ask, also, why shoppers dislike your company or your products. Why do customers return products? Why do they hesitate to place orders? Are there hurdles or obstacles to ordering? Would customers purchase more if you offered PayPal as a form of payment? Are you able to offer shipping service based on membership or similar to Amazon Prime, where customers don’t need to think about shipping costs? Can you offer your products as a monthly subscription, such as monthly gift baskets?
Emphasize Customer-centered Values
Making life easier for customers relies on a company’s values. Are you communicating these values to your customers?
Your customers are your most valuable asset and you need to invest in them, not treat them as an expense line item — i.e., customer service department. If your relationship with your customer is only as good as your last coupon campaign, then you’re missing the point. You need to have a relationship so that customers will want to do business with you over the long term. Company profits comes from repeat customers.
As marketers, we may be guilty of always looking for new customers. We should also try to understand existing customers. It’s much easier and less costly to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. What would your organization look like if you worked toward improving the customer’s total experience, emphasizing customer retention programs? What kind of changes would you have to make in your business processes to achieve a positive customer experience?