Today one of the challenges we face is just as the internet is an amazing avenue to market your website, products and even yourself it is equally an amazing way for disgruntled users to tarnish your otherwise good name. The internet has given a voice to everyone. Good bad or indifferent people of all walks of life speak their minds freely in every conceivable way on the internet. They also tend to be braver and more disrespectful as they can use the anonymity of the internet to hide behind. So with that said if you work in an online environment long enough you are going to upset someone enough where they will feel it necessary to berate you beyond reproach. I know for a fact most of these people would never act this way or even say anything at all however that isn’t what we are dealing with here.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you did in fact make an honest mistake and messed up a customer’s order. Maybe you shipped it late or you sent the wrong item. This customer decides that this is the end of the world blasts you on the popular forum or facebook page. If it was in fact your fault, admit it. Respond politely, honesty and with dignity. Accept responsibility for the mistake. Your customer absolutely doesn’t want to hear nor do they care that the UPS or FEDEX guy didn’t show up on time. The only thing they know is they ordered a particular item and you failed to deliver it. So own up and apologize publicly. You would be amazed at what a simple apology can do to calm an irate customer. Now let us say this doesn’t calm them down. Publically offer to make it right. Perhaps offer a coupon code for them to use on their next purchase. What is important here above all else is to take the high road and maintain integrity. Do not under any circumstances lose your cool and retaliate. Continue to offer to help the customer and anyone else reading the post will quickly see who is trying to fix the situation and who is simply there to stir up trouble.
Another solution is heading it off before it ever happens. If you know you did something wrong, such as you discovered you sent the wrong part to the customer because you attached the wrong shipping label to a package, call them first. Do not wait for the customer to be surprised. If you call them before they notice it shows you are on top of your game as a company and it will also give you the opportunity to control the flow of information. You can apologize for the mix up before the customer even has time to get mad about it. More often than not this will solve the problem assuming you have the correct part on the way.
Once again I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to maintaining a high level of composure. Trust me when I say you will be tested like never before. People will say horrible things, make threats and demand ridiculous actions from you. Simply apologize and offer reasonable solutions. Never argue as it will only escalate the situation and make you look unsympathetic. Again if they are acting like a crazed person on the internet it will quickly become evident. If you have a particularly tricky situation give us a call and we will do our very best to help you smooth over a bad situation.
A couple weeks ago I touched on the complaint that many retailers feel they have nothing to sell online through a distributors feed on their website. I think I proved that simply is not and should not be an excuse. I wanted to take the time to expand on that with another idea. I have no doubt that you brick & mortar store owners and probably a hand full of the virtual store owners have piles of products lying around that are collecting dust. There is a certain “big box” retailer out there that sells these oddball misc. items on-line in their “Bargain Cave” section. This is a brilliant idea. First of all it gives you a chance to sell off some items that have been setting on your shelves for years. Secondly with a well written product description page on these items you can help expand and tune your sites SEO. These products along with your descriptions and images will add to your sites unique content which we all know shows favorably in the all seeing eyes of Google. So in one shot you can sell off some old inventory, optimize your site and make a few bucks in the process. I can’t possibly see how this would not be something you would want to do. If you need a little refresher course in uploading your own products to one of our sites please give my support team a call at 1-800-699-0820 ext 2.
They say the key to any good healthy relationship is communication. I could not agree more with this statement. Many of you may not look at the retail store owner to customer as a relationship but it most certainly is just that. Like any other relationship these also require time, effort and most importantly COMMUNICATION. It is far too easy for E-commerce store owners to silently hide behind the digital wall that is their website and not acknowledge a customer’s concerns. How many of you have had this scenario play out where the customer ordered a product through your website only to find out it is no longer in stock. This is a prime opportunity to reach out to a customer and see if you can help meet or possibly exceed their needs in another way. E-mail them or even better call them up. Thank them for their business and offer them a viable alternative. Maybe you will sell them something else and maybe you won’t. What is important here is you will be showing them a higher level of customer service than most see in dealing with web based businesses and you are building that relationship. In taking that little time out you will be giving the customer a positive view of yourself and your store. You will also be given the opportunity to showcase your knowledge of the products being sold in turn building that ever elusive customer confidence. This all goes a long ways the next time they are surfing the web looking to make their next purchase. I will go a step further on the topic. Let’s say you are late in delivering a package to a customer or for one reason or another it will not be there at all. Do not under any circumstances make your customer wonder what is going on and make them contact you as a result…trust me they will be upset with you at this point. The better mindset or approach is “bad news is still better than no news”. If you are proactive and contact the customer first and give them honest information you will serve yourself well in the ways of damage control. Things do go wrong or change from time to time and people understand that much better if you are upfront about it in the first place. Remember everyone has a voice on the internet these days and if you don’t communicate with your customers they will “communicate” about their experience on every social media, forum and blog outlet they can get their hands on. So speak up and reach out to your customers and let them know you care. Good communication can help preserve and grow your business to new heights.