Earn Your Client’s Trust & Keep It
Small Business Insights: Customer Service
Just about every time I turn around, there is some new piece of technology or some new buzzword-filled marketing trend, that is claiming to be the magic pill that web-based businesses have been searching for to get more sales. Just do this one unique thing, they tell you, and all your e-commerce dreams will come true. The “one thing” almost always conveniently involves spending money on a product or service that promises to be the “it factor” you’ve been missing.
Can I tell you a secret? In all my decades of experience as a small business owner myself, I’ve only found one thing that really works, and it’s as old-school as it gets. What I’m talking about is great customer service. Taking care of people is the oldest practice in the book, but it works. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten contracts because, according to the client, I was the ONLY person to call them back – and that’s just the simplest form of customer service.
Even in today’s more impersonal Internet age, taking care of clients really, really works, and here’s why:
It Costs You Less Money and Less Time
There are tons of ways to get attention in the e-commerce world, and most of them cost money, time, or both. Putting together advertising campaigns, studying the buying habits of your target audience, paying for PPC ads – all these things take valuable resources. I’m not saying these things are bad. Most of them have their place in your toolkit of ways to attract attention. But great customer service is one of the most affordable, and least time-consuming, ways to boost your brand.
Why? Primarily because it costs far less to retain customers than it does to attract the attention of new ones. Once someone buys from you, his or her impression of your great customer service is all it takes to encourage repeat buys. With new customers, however, you have all the money and work of getting their attention in the first place.
It Reduces the Need for Damage Control
There is nothing more time consuming and detrimental to your brand image than when something goes wrong for a customer. Today, customers won’t just yell at the nearest store clerk, or demand a refund from the shift manager. They take their grievances to social media, letting all their followers and friends know that you’ve let them down in some way. So now, not only do you have to take care of the original problem, but you’ve got to do some PR to get your brand’s image back up to snuff.
That is why offering excellent customer service up front, with crystal clear communication and fast availability is vital. You can avoid the need for damage control in the first place.
It Opens Doors Behind the Scenes
Believe it or not, great customer service isn’t just about pleasing the customers. The better you treat the people who give you their money, the more likely you are to get opportunities “behind the scenes”, so to speak. A more traditional example is that of being asked to sponsor or partner with a charity for a promotional event. Charities want to partner with companies who represent the same commitment to people that they have, and you want to be introduced to the vast audience that a well-known charity has. A more modern-day example is that of working with a social media influencer. If you’ve earned yourself a reputation for being great to work with, influencers with audiences of millions are more likely to want to represent you.
These behind the scenes opportunities can be traced back to how well you treat your customers because potential partners and investors are taking note.
Customers Will Pay More for Better Customer Service
Finally, great customer service is worth it to your audience. How worth it? Many studies have shown that consumers will pay more for stellar service that makes the shopping experience better. Here’s a great example: If you go to Amazon, you can buy an extremely expensive diamond ring. You’ll pick it out, put it in your cart, and have it sent to you – and hopefully, it’s the right one. But if you go into a Tiffany’s, you are treated like a VIP, with knowledgeable staff giving you a boutique style experience. They show you products, offer you water, and generally treat you like royalty as you browse. That kind of customer service makes the entire experience feel richer, and in return, customers are willing to pay more because the service makes the cost seem worth it.
Those are just a few of the reasons why great customer service is valuable for an ecommerce brand. You may not be able to give your customers a Tiffany boutique experience – but you can, and should, invest in your customer service to make it stand out from the competition.