Random thoughts about Customer Service

I made a sale to a repeat customer yesterday and got me to thinking a little bit about customer service because he said he was pleased by our prompt attention to his first request. This was really nice to hear, but I didn’t think I did anything special at first. Then I thought about that first interaction and came up a better understanding of what he meant. He had an event coming up and needed his order in time for it and wanted to be sure it would be there in time. We responded within a few minutes of his order being placed. Then followed through with getting the order there on time. Seems like a simple thing, but doing it made a single sale into a double sale.

I use technology to help me. I get email delivered to my cell phone so I can follow up on questions wherever I am, and quickly. I hadn’t considered it customer service at first, it was more that I just wanted to be more in touch with my business when I wasn’t on the farm, which for now is most days.

At a local celebration, I was able to use technology to accept credit cards. This was not only good for my business, it was good for my customer. They could buy the items they wanted without having to carry cash. Hopefully I have the process a little more smooth at the next show, but having options really is nice. And being able to do it without power was pretty neat too.

What about when things go wrong? How you handle those situations is just as important. Even when the problem isn’t anything you can control. Had an order, they paid for express shipping, overnight. We shipped as promised, but the post office didn’t deliver. We honored his request to have the shipping cost refunded.

How do you show you have good customer service on an Internet website? I don’t have any testimonials yet. I won’t ask for them, but assume they will come as the business grows and continues to provide great customer service.

Do you have stories to share about good customer service you received or how you provided great service in a bad situation? What about those bad situations where you can’t, for some reason, meet the customer expectations? What do you do in those cases?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

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2 Responses to Random thoughts about Customer Service

  1. Karen Cubic says:

    I have been in the alpaca business for just 10 months now, but I have owned another service based company for 15 years. In my opinion, customer service is THE most important thing you can do for your business. In my trucking company, if I cannot do what a customer asks, I never just say “No” and let it go. I always say I can’t do this, but I CAN do this! I give options. Sometimes my option won’t work for the customer, but often times it does. That saves me a sale, and lets the customer know that I care about his needs. I also try to get to know my customers on a more personal level. I find that when a problem does crop up, (and sooner or later one will), it is much harder to stop doing business with a “friend”, that with a “company”.

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  2. Our business has been primarily internet based for 14 years. The closest thing we have to testimonials is our eBay rating, which is somewhere around 3000 and perfect. If people question us, we usually refer them to that so they can look up comments and see all our happy feedbacks. We can now do the same on Amazon. In general I think the biggest confidence booster for most people is an up-to-date website, so they know you are actively in business, and prompt responses to emails. If you have what they want, most people will take a chance on you.

    We occasionally have to ‘eat’ some postage here and there, like when something gets returned because the customer got their address wrong, or something will arrive damaged and we’ll send a replacement out, no questions asked.

    In all these years our worst customer service incident happened just recently, when a shipment to the UK disappeared. The customer didn’t want to wait to see if Customs was holding it. We have never had a package go missing overseas, they usually get returned eventually, and it was worth several hundred dollars, so we didn’t want to refund him. Also, he had declined insurance because he didn’t want Customs to know the value and tax him on it. It was a bad situation all around, and there was no way to make him happy.

    At least in refunding Express Mail you can get your money back from the post office, since it’s guaranteed. We have tried other carriers, but we have always come back to the post office for the majority of our shipping. I have to say their service has been excellent, and very few things have been lost of damaged over the years.

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