By Lauren Carter
Top ten tips for providing world class customer service
When customers buy from you on Amazon they don’t necessarily distinguish between buying from you and buying directly from Amazon. It’s well known that Amazon has fantastic customer service which means the customer will be expecting the same from you. If you are using FBA then most of your customer queries will go through Amazon but occasionally a customer will look up your storefront and contact you directly so you need to be prepared to deal with these.
Customer service is absolutely vital; great customer service can seal the deal on a lifetime customer but if you get it wrong you can end up with a bad review or an A-to-Z guarantee claim (Amazon guarantees all products from third party sellers will arrive on time and as advertised). These are damaging to your account health, will reduce the chances of you winning the buy box and too many of these will lead to an account suspension or even a ban.
We’ve put together our top ten tips for providing the very best customer service that even Amazon would be proud of!
You receive a message from a customer; they are upset that their order hasn’t arrived yet. You look into it and find that you’ve missed the order and it hasn’t been shipped. It’s tempting to tell them it’s on its way and should arrive soon to keep them happy. It’s a little white lie that gets you out of having to explain yourself but in reality you’re just causing more trouble for yourself. When the product does arrive the customer will see when it was posted and they will be even angrier than they would have been if you had simply told the truth. On a similar note, if a customer asks for something and you know you can’t deliver then say no. There is no point putting pressure on yourself to do something.
Admit to your Mistakes
If you make a mistake own up to it, message your customer to explain what has happened and explain any steps you’ve taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Apologise and refund some money or throw in a free gift to show how seriously you are taking the error. It’s tough to admit you messed up but the customer will appreciate your honesty and will be more likely to shop with you again.
Go the Extra Mile
You’ve just got back from your afternoon post office trip, you’re about to put your feet up and have a cup of tea and you see a message from a customer. They want to buy a product from you but they need it to arrive next day for a special event, they acknowledge you don’t offer next day delivery but they have offered to pay extra for the cost of postage. You would be well within your rights to say it’s not possible.
Put yourself in the customers shoes, imagine how thrilled you would be if the seller was able to deliver for you and save the day for your special occasion. It might be a pain to run back to the post office again but that sort of service is how you get loyal customers who will leave excellent reviews and tell their friends. Of course you need to remember point one, never promise something you know you can’t deliver!
You might think your customer is being pedantic and complaining over nothing but the customer should never know that, always apologise and be empathetic. Let them know you care about their problem and want to make it right. If it is a small issue then all you need is a small gesture to make it right, you might not be happy about doing it but you need to think of it as a cost of doing business. If you can stop small problems from escalating then you will be able to keep your business healthy in the long term.
Through Amazon you need to respond to all messages within 24 hours. In reality you should be responding as quickly as you possibly can. If a customer asks a question about a product, get back to them and you might make a sale. If you take too long the customer might buy from somebody else who was able to answer their enquiry immediately. Every sale matters to your business and you should be doing all you can to secure sales however small.
Personalise your Responses
It’s a great idea to have responses ready to frequently asked questions but it’s worth taking a bit of time to customise the message before sending. Nobody likes to think their complaint is being dealt with by a machine; small personal touches can go a long way to making a customer feel you really care. Always use their name and mirror words they have used in their message to show you have read it.
No Question is Stupid
You may get customers asking questions where the answers seem obvious to you. The answer might already be in the product description but they have taken the time to message you and you need to take the time to message them back. You might think the answer is obvious but if they need to ask perhaps you need to look back over your product description and see if you can make the information more clear. Treat every query as though it really matters to you.
Know Your Rights
While it is true that you should be doing everything you can to make sure your customers are happy and sometimes this will mean making sacrifices you need to know when to say no. Sometimes customers will ask too much and there is nothing you can do to satisfy them. Make sure you know your rights as an Amazon seller, if a customer is asking you to do something which doesn’t fit in with Amazon’s terms and conditions you can say no, if a customer is causing problems and you suspect they might complain to Amazon you can contact Seller Support to make sure they have your side of the story.
It is worth coming up with a set of rules with regards to how you handle various complaints, so you may decide that for a late delivery you will refund shipping, if a low cost item arrives damaged you will send a replacement, it is up to you to decide how you want to handle complaints but try to be consistent. It will make it much easier to decide what to do when an issue arises and you won’t make a snap decision to give a full refund in a panic to make things right when really a small gesture would have been enough.
Stay Calm and Think Long Term
Sometimes you may get a message from a customer which makes you angry, customers are not always reasonable. Take a moment to calm down before you reply, walk away for five minutes if you need to. Sending angry responses back will only make the problem worse, you need to think about what negative feedback or an A-to-Z guarantee claim would do to your account health. You might be reluctant to refund but if the alternative could be damaging to your account health you will be putting your whole Amazon business at risk.