Saturday, May 30, 2009

Customer Service Tips, Chapter Two

As promised, here is the next installment in my Customer Service Tips series. This week I'll talk about the importance of communication as it applies to selling online. Just for the record, I have no idea how many chapters will be in this series. I'm just making this up as I go along!

Compelling Telephone Operators at a Switchboard Cigarette Case by sweetheartsinner

Communication is imperative when selling online, since the customer cannot touch and hold your product to examine it themselves. An accurate description is important and gives the customer more confidence in your product.

Of course, it goes both ways. The customer has to READ the description!! I've had several experiences recently where customers overlooked important details in the description, such as the size of the book, and were surprised when they received a smaller book than expected.

The Communicator - sticker pack by bullfight
When scrutinizing what I could do to prevent this from happening again, I concluded the details got lost in the text. I used to write my descriptions in paragraphs but have now revamped my descriptions on my newer listings so they are a bulleted list, which I hope is easier to read. I've also tried to incorporate a ruler and my hand holding the book into my photos to give a visual gauge of the size.

Communication also encompasses email correspondence and Etsy's internal email called convos. I get a lot of convos regarding custom orders and inquiries about my books. If I don't respond to them within a reasonable amount of time, I risk losing the sale. Unless I am away for the day or out of town, I always respond to my convos within a few hours or less. My computer is in my studio so I hear the email chime go off when I'm working (unless I've got my music too loud!).

Communication. screenprinted radio transmitter tower necktie by toybreaker

On the other hand, a mistake I often make is responding too quickly to convos. Sometimes in my haste to be prompt in my reply, I don't fully think through what I'm saying. Just the other day I shot off a response to a potential customer without a formal greeting and my usual "thanks for your inquiry, yadda yadda" closing sentiment. I felt bad about it as I always try to be polite.

By far the biggest mistake I've made to date was not thinking through a custom request before I quoted a price. It was for an international order and trying to estimate the shipping cost for a product I've never made before freaked me out. Lucky for me the customer never followed through with the order, so I had a narrow escape!

Communication, Two Birds collage by afiori
Following through on my end with communication via email and convos builds the customer's confidence in my product and trust in my service.
Here are some of the ways I follow through with my customers:

-Responding to convos in a timely manner.

-Shipping promptly.

-I do what I say I'm going to do, within the time frame I've stated.

-If I run into an obstacle which prevents me from keeping my promise, I let my customer know as soon as possible.

-I try, when I have the time, to touch base with my customers to be sure they received their book and are happy with it. Most don't ever respond, but at least I've made the attempt.

I'm certainly no expert and have learned most of this by trial and error! I hope you found this helpful. This by no means is an exhaustive write up on the subject. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on communication as it applies to selling online!


Kiley said...

Totally off topic, but I know bullfight and I love her stuff!

Cathy said...

Great advice, Beth! I just started doing the same thing with the dimensions of my items - listing them separately from the rest of the description. On some of my items, I've even photographed them next to an apple to help customers visualize the size.

Bern said...

Good points! All so true. Very true indeed.

Valerie's Essentials said...

Wonderful Info... Great job and great pics!

Anonymous said...

Great info Beth! Good Job!

Just wanted to let you know that I have a blog award for you.

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