You may offer a great product or service, but if the customer’s experience is not satisfactory, they will tell other people and may also take to social media to share their woes. This will damage your reputation and your brand instantly. Here are some simple ways to ensure the customer is always happy.
The whole customer journey
Look at the whole journey the customer takes, from initial awareness of your brand right through to the purchase itself and, importantly, after the sale takes place.
When the customer arrives at your website, make sure it provides a clear message about what you are selling and an easy path to buy. They don’t want to be clicking different links and going round in circles. Make sure your online shop is easy to find and that each item has a clear photo, or photos, plus measurements and description. The more information you share here, the more likely someone is to buy.
If you don’t have an online shop, consider other ways people can contact you. It is sensible to include several options, including telephone ordering or email. Different people prefer different methods, so you need to cover them all. Make sure that the phone number and email address are easy to find and ensure you have staff available at all times during your published opening times to deal with calls and emails. Nobody likes to have their answerphone message or email left unanswered for days – or, worse, not answered at all. They will go elsewhere and complain about you to lots of people, and probably to your competitors.
Properly trained staff
All staff members who have contact with should be properly trained to deal with general enquiries and should understand the products or services you are selling so they can provide useful information. If someone is getting in touch to book a class or course, make sure they have access to the booking dates and details immediately. When a customer gets through to a knowledgeable person straight away, their confidence in your brand grows and they will be more willing to trust you.
You may have the option of a Chat function on your website to handle queries. If this is a robot, make this clear to the user. If it is manned by a human, make sure they are available when you say they are and that they understand all aspects of the business. Never totally replace the option of human interaction with a robot as there are always queries that a robot cannot answer and all this achieves is an angry customer who will complain to friends and colleagues, spoiling your reputation.
Your website needs to be designed to make the customer’s experience as easy and smooth as possible.
When the customer has found out all the information about a product or service and has decided to buy, make sure there are lots of ways to pay, including options like debit cards, credit cards, PayPal and Apple Pay.
Offer different delivery options, too. If someone needs something urgently, they will pay that extra amount to get it on time.
Think about the packaging you use. Is your business able to use recycled packaging, for example. Or can you cut down on wasteful plastic packaging? If you use environment-friendly or biodegradable packaging, tell customers that. It enhances your company’s reputation as a caring business and may save costs as well. If you offer a recycling service for your coffee pods, for example, that will be another plus for your business in the customer’s eyes.
Consider including a small, extra gift, or coupon for money off a future purchase, in the parcel. This will build your reputation with the customer and brand loyalty.
When things go wrong
Customer service comes into its own when things go wrong. In an ideal world, everything would go smoothly, but you must be prepared for problems. A willingness to deal with issues promptly and efficiently can turn an upset customer into a happy customer, despite the problem they are experiencing.
If a customer orders and pays for something and then you discover it is out of stock, make sure you let them know straight away. Tell them when it will be back in stock, send it quickly, and offer some form of compensation for the inconvenience. If the new delivery date is too late, offer an immediate refund and perhaps a discount voucher for a future purchase. If circumstances change subsequently, always keep the customer advised. And remember to apologise.
If your products are damaged in transit, offer a replacement to be sent straight away. If your carrier repeatedly damages your goods, despite them being well packed, consider moving to another provider. They are representing your company and their poor service can reflect badly on you.
A straightforward returns process is a must. Provide free returns if possible, and a variety of options to return so that the customer can choose the most convenient for them. Offering a selection of pre-paid sticky labels is a good idea. Make sure the returns form is clear about the return process and has space for customers to comment on the item. Make sure you read and act on any comments about poor quality or the fit of a garment. Paying attention to customers and filling any gaps in their needs will pay dividends in the long run. If a customer has had a particularly bad experience, a personal email or letter and a voucher could be all it takes to rectify the situation. If they have made a great suggestion for how you can improve things and you act on it, let them know and send a voucher or other token of appreciation.
Maintaining the relationship
If a customer complains, it is possible to turn around their negative perception with a quick response (in person or on email), an apology and a satisfactory explanation of how the issue will be fixed. Go above and beyond what they expect and they will be pleasantly surprised and tell others.
Whatever sort of experience a customer has had with you, you want them to come back in the future. It is worth following up after their purchase with a quick survey, to ask for feedback on the item, or simply to thank them for their custom and offer an incentive to return, in the form of a discount code or voucher.
Reputations take a long time to build and can be destroyed quickly if you don’t look after your customers. And access to social media means far more people will know if you have got it wrong – or right!