Internet Marketing and SEO: The Importance of Customer Service
Internet Marketing and SEO is great for bringing customers to your site, but how do you keep them loyal once they’ve found you?
Customer service is just as important for online businesses as it is for traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ establishments. In some respects it’s even more essential, because you lose that ‘face-to’face’ contact that is so important in human interaction. Trust is incredibly important, if you can’t retain trust then you are doing something wrong.
For eCommerce sites, it is essential that you remain transparent, and, if for any reason you can’t fulfil an order the you must tell your customer. For example, I bought a teapot for my sister and her husband for their wedding present. I purchased said teapot from Royal Doulton, a well established and timeless brand. I arranged for the teapot to be delivered at my sister’s address as I must admit to running out of time in the lead up to the wedding, so I thought, that’s fine, I’ll get it delivered to their address, to arrive after their honeymoon. The delivery dates were stated in the purchase confirmation email, and it all seemed to fit in perfectly with the happy couple’s return. ‘Great’ I thought, ‘this all fits in perfectly’. Unfortunately, 6 weeks on, my sister and her husband are still waiting for their teapot. I would not mind if I’d heard from Royal Doulton explaining that the teapot was out of stock, or that there had been a mess up in the order or delivery, but despite repeated email correspondence from myself they have remained dumb. I will never buy from them again.
When you invest a lot of money and time into drawing visitors to your site it is imperative that you do your level best to keep them loyal to you. After-all, from a customers’ perspective it’s far easier to open a previously bookmarked website and buy directly from somewhere known and will honour your purchase, deliver on time, or if necessary, keep you informed if things go wrong.
Royal Doulton have sent me repeated emails marketing their summer sale – and whilst I can appreciate that my email address has just been added to a list, this has still proved incredibly annoying (and serves as a reminder about how they’ve messed me about and treated me, their customer, very poorly). Email marketing is very, very effective when the sender delivers something of use or value to the recipient. If you’ve screwed up the order (as I suspect to have been the case with Royal Doulton), then it just makes your unhappy customer even more disgruntled.
The Golden Rules of Customer Service
The best way to remain in business online for the longterm is to always remember the ‘Golden Rules of Customer Service’
- The customer is Always Right
I worked in retail and catering as a summer job when I was a teenager and if a customer made a complaint, even when they were being totally out of order, my boss always said to me ‘the customer is always right’. Listen to them, find out what their problem is. Let them know you are taking them seriously, it’s important to regain their trust. They are far more likely to forgive human error if they know it’s just a mistake, afterall nobody is perfect and the majority of people are reasonable.
- Solve their Problems
If a customer has a problem, whatever it is, do your level best to solve it. Don’t make them do all the work, if it’s out of your remit to solve the problem yourself, pass it on to the relevant person in your establishment and make sure you get an answer to take back to the customer.
- Terms and Conditions
Keep these short and sweet. It’s true that very few people read them, but for the few that do, make sure it’s legible and to the point. The very last thing you want to do is put your potential customers off from making their purchase.
- Know your products
If you don’t know your products or services very well, then the chances are your customer will go elsewhere. It’s really important that your staff are trained well in order to answer any questions that a potential customer may throw your way.
- Customer Satisfaction
This is really important. Your customer will appreciate you taking the time to ask if they are happy. Also, without asking your customers if they are happy with their purchase then you will never know if you need to make any improvements. This is also a great way of making more sales. Customer surveys are really powerful selling tools, you can use them to show your ‘trustworthyness’.
So keep in mind that if the goal of your internet marketing or SEO campaign is to improve sales and gain new customers, then you must look very closely at your customer service, and make sure it it top notch.