Communicating with customers can be daunting since you need to give off both a professional and a warm vibe, even in the most difficult situations. Conveying any negative emotion will instantly change the customer’s opinion about you and your store. The Hubspot research team found that 89% of customer service professionals agree that customers are more likely to share a highly positive or highly negative experience than in the past. This likelihood to share means that your company has a chance to generate word-of-mouth that can really benefit or hurt your business.
Customer service is a valuable way to develop a loyal following, to retain new customers, and to provide memorable experiences. If you are lucky, loyal customers will love your store so much that they will refer your store to their family and friends. To prevent negative experiences, here are some of the most common rules that every store owner must know.
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1. Treat your customers as individuals.
Your customer is a human being and they want to be treated as such. As Salesforce noted in 2016, 66% of customers are more likely to switch brands if they are not treated as an individual but as a number. Some easy ways to make sure you’re treating your customer like an individual are:
- Include light personal information in your conversation to help foster a connection. Not everything has to be about the customer’s request or need – you can bring up any similarities to show that you are genuine when it comes to helping customers.
- Feel free to compliment their choice of products that they decided to purchase from your store – remember that specificity always makes a compliment seem genuine.
- Share a small gift in their order as a token of appreciation. For example, you can leave a handwritten thank you note along with a discount code for their next order. A small gesture can go a long way and can turn someone into a loyal customer.
2. Be honest.
Honesty is always the best policy. Customers expect transparency and providing false information can lead to negative experiences. Ruby Newell-Legner found that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience. It is not worth it to cause a negative experience based on lack of honesty.
Be clear about what you are capable of doing for the customer. As much as we want to make customers happy, we never want to give false information to do so. At ShopPad, we say “under promise, over deliver.” When facing difficulties with third-party services or suppliers, tell your customers clearly how long those difficulties will take.
3. Know your customer.
Accenture and Nextiva report that 33% of customers who abandoned a business relationship last year did so because personalization was lacking. Customers are always impressed when you remember them or their previous conversations with you. Because of that, it is important to keep your customer service organized, whether you use a help desk software or an email account with a variety of email folders.
Here are some examples of you acknowledging your customer:
- Use the customer’s name when addressing them. It is always best to address them more specifically than “Hello there,” which is vague and lacks the feeling of getting the support the customer needs.
- Use their preferred method of communication. Does the customer like to talk on the phone or through email?
- Check back in with the customer a couple of days later with an email or survey. Let them know that you care about their experience and that you would be happy to help with anything.
- Inform your customers on where their order is.
Store owners tend to forget about a customer’s post-purchase experience in the desire to increase sales with the pre-purchase experience. Although the user friendliness and the store’s professional design may attract customers to land on your store, those features will not matter in the long run if those customers end up purchasing only one time on your store.
We recommend using a tracking app like Tracktor that gives your customers on-site tracking. The app has proven success of reducing customer service tickets and even increases the possibility for return purchases. It directs customers to the information that they are looking for without having to interact with your customer service in the first place.
4. Have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page.
When making a purchase on a website, customers tend to flock towards the Frequently Asked Questions page to see how long an order can take to arrive, what the returns policy is like, and more. Microsoft reports that over half of consumers say that the main reason they cannot resolve an issue on their own is because there is too little information online. Don’t be that store that leaves their customers in the dark. Creating a simple and informative page on your store can cut down questions and reassure consumers that your store can be trusted and is worthwhile of an experience. Here are examples of FAQ pages:
- Traditional (Question / Answer): It is straight to the point and customers can easily understand each commonly asked question. You will notice how the first few questions are more about their products while the last few questions concerns with the store’s hours and information.
- Witty: If it’s on-brand for your store, don’t be afraid to add some personality to your FAQs. They can seem a lot more human this way.
- Organized with a knowledge base: This type of FAQ is great for customers who have in-depth questions and need some answers from a variety of subjects.
5. Accept Feedback Enthusiastically.
Bill Gates once famously said that “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Dealing with unhappy customers can be the worst of times but it provides great insights on what made the customer unhappy and what can you do to prevent customers in the future to feel the same way. If the customer is unhappy about the product that they received or with the way they were treated, take the opportunity to thank them for letting you know about their experience. Let them know that you will take the conversation as a learning experience and that you will strive to improve the experience in the future.
You could even compile a list of requests, wishes, and improvements that your customers would like to see. For instance, you can compile all the feedback from your customers and organize it into different categories. Then, you can keep track of how many customers mentioned those things to you and find out the key pain points that your customers face.
Don’t just accept feedback. Do something about it.
6. Respond in a timely manner.
Time is important to customers and providing slow response times can be very frustrating and time consuming. 66% of adults say that the most important thing a company can do is value their time.
We recommend putting your store hours on a Contact Us page. Another example is to send an automatic email reply with the support hours to customers who leave a message to your store. It is important to set expectations for your customers and exceed your customers’ expectations when possible.
Here is ours:
Overall, the goal of providing customer service is not about meeting customers’ expectations but rather communicating effectively what your capabilities are – and then walking the extra mile. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of how you would like to be treated as you purchase a product from your own store.