Return to: GROK Dot Com 8/15/2001
Who Ya Gonna Call? Customer Service!
You go into a great big department store, and at the very back of the second floor there's a little office suite called "Customer Service." Most of us don't give it a second thought Ö we simply think of it, if we think of it at all, as the place we go to wait in line when things go wrong.
E-tailing is a different world. Your customer service, the degree to which you keep your customer delighted, starts the instant he or she lands on your website. In e-business, customer service isn't where you go when you have a problem, and it certainly isn't what happens after the sale is completed - it's everything that goes into creating a superior online shopping experience from start to finish.
Think about it. You don't have any online sales people moving about, interacting with your clients and representing your products, your sales philosophy, your guarantees, or anything else that is distinctive about your business. You rely exclusively on your website to do this (even an acknowledged brand in the bricks-and-mortar world can fail if you don't rethink your online approach to customer service). A prospect arrives at your home page (or somewhere within your online store) and is immediately in need of customer service.
During shopping, customers use service to find or inquire about products. Do you have this item? Is this sold separately? How much comes in one of those bottles? Is this product compatible with that product? A host of questions is behind even a single purchase. So how are you going to help them get the answers they need so they want to make the purchase from you and not one of your competitors?
During the buying process, customers need service to explain billing issues, receipts, payment options, the checkout procedure. This is a critical point for most shoppers, and you don't want them abandoning their shopping carts in confusion, frustration, or because they don't trust you.
Once the order is placed, customers need to be able to check the status of an order being processed. They want their purchase acknowledged, and they like follow-through. They may even want to track its shipping status. Give them everything they need so they have the cyberspace equivalent of carrying that item home.
When the item is received, customers may have questions about how it works. Something may be missing. They may decide the product isn't suitable. They need service to handle exchanges or returns. Do you give prompt, knowledgeable and complete responses to questions? Do you answer questions, or do you point them somewhere else, making them do more work and causing them to get more frustrated? Do you quickly, efficiently and cheerfully honor your guarantees? Assist with billing errors?
The keys to great customer service are in things Iíve mentioned before:
∑ Make it simple and easy for your visitor to find information and navigate your site.
∑ Give them helpful and descriptive information about your products or services.
∑ Prominently display your toll-free number and other help tools.
∑ Make it clear and simple to buy from you.
∑ Give the customer a reason to place his or her confidence in you - inspire trust.
Customer service on the web is a comprehensive package, an on-going dialogue with your shopper. Don't miss out by thinking it's a little office hidden at the back that the customer calls when there's a problem after the sale. By then, itís much too late.
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Return to: GROK Dot Com 8/15/2001
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