Whether you sell products online or in a brick-and-mortar store, reputation is everything. The success of your business depends on how well you manage your reputation. It doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the industry. It doesn’t matter if your marketing strategy works astonishingly well. If your reputation is tarnished, you will lose business.
Admittedly, reputation management is not easy. You have to deal with many complainers who take umbrage over the slightest mishap. However, while you can’t control quirky human behavior, you can stack the odds in your favor by taking practical measures.
One thing, for example, that really irks customers is that it takes a long time to get their order. Another thing that irritates them is getting something that they didn’t order. So you will be way ahead on customer satisfaction if you can ensure fast and accurate order pulling and shipping. While well-trained customer service reps might be able to persuade a customer to pardon a bungled first order, customers will go elsewhere if you mess up more than once.
One way to ensure a higher quality of service to exceed customer satisfaction is to improve your total quality control. You can do that by using logistics software to help determine your delivery process. It also helps to use plastic storage bins to stay organized. Additionally, take advantage of a new industrial barcode printer to create high-quality labels and barcodes for your products. These actions will make it easier to fulfill your orders without any mistakes.
The Role of Customer Service
Although business has always been challenging, because it is a complex activity with many moving parts to coordinate, it isn’t getting easier. While technological innovation since the turn of the century has certainly improved the efficacy of business processes, the level of competition has also risen. It is now easier for entrepreneurs to start a new, low-cost business on the Internet.
Customer service, then, rather than stringent manufacturing standards, superior goods or distribution systems, is the differentiating factor between a popular business and one that is facing entropy because it doesn’t have a robust customer base.
The Flow of Communication
Every purchase a customer makes involves a flurry of interactions. These interactions may take place in person, on the telephone, or via the Internet. They can last seconds or hours. The customer requires constant assurance that they have bought the right product at the right price and that it will be delivered quickly and accurately. When there is silence, or a gap in the sequence of communication, customers panic.
Here, for instance, is how the flow of communication might occur after an online purchase:
After a customer places an online order, they expect to see a confirmation page to thank them for the order. This reassures them that their credit card number went through.
When they check their emails, they expect to see another confirmation, reassuring them that their product will be delivered. If it’s a digital product, they expect to be given a link to access their product. If it’s a dropshipped product, they expect to be told when their package will arrive on their doorstep.
If customers have questions about their order when they receive it, they expect that someone will answer their call. They become irate if they are routed to different departments, or worse still, greeted with a voicemail message.
So customer service starts with orchestrating the flow of information. Customers need to be reassured that all is well and that they will receive everything they paid for and if there is a problem that somebody will address it.
The reason why customers are nervous about their orders is because scams occur on the Internet. Customers don’t want to get burned.
Your reputation is created through customer stories. When customers have good or bad service, they tell others about it. Sales pages that are not replete with plenty of glowing testimonials are likely to convert poorly. Given the ease of communication, customers share their stories on social media, through blog posts, through comment boxes, and through forums.
Be Honest When Things Go Wrong
The quickest way to assuage angry customers is not to try to hoodwink them with excuses or tall stories about why their order went awry. You also have to fulfill every promise you make on how you will fix their problem. Customers quickly catch on to deception. If you are not sincere, you will be labeled a snake oil salesman.
Resolve Complaints Quickly
Don’t delay your response. The longer you delay your response, the angrier customers get. Even if you address a small incident in the best possible way, you will not satisfy customers if they had to wait awhile for their problem to be acknowledged. Customers don’t care if you are slow to respond because you are understaffed and received a large number of complaints to process. Consequently, you must have an efficient process in place to address customer problems that might arise long before customers even arrive on your website or come to your store.
Customer service, then, is about ensuring that customers get what they want as soon as possible, keeping the lines of communication open, honestly addressing problems that arise, and doing everything quickly, from delivering products to handling complaints.
In closing, some words of wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, will emphasize the delicate nature of trust in the business world. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” he said, “If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”