Dave posting yesterday about how bad customer service can effect your online reputation got me thinking today. It made me want to share some tips how we (Dream Systems Media) practice good customer service with our own businesses, and get amazing testimonials sent to us.
IMO – The first rule of customer service is to be a good listener. If you are not able to sit and listen to your customer without getting defensive thinking you know everything then you will never do well at the customer service game. Anytime issues arrive we make sure and do everything we can to build a relationship of trust, even if they are start raving mad at something that has happened.
The last thing you want to do (even if you can’t help them) is to insult the customer so badly by not listening to them, that all they can think about doing is going and letting everyone they know how awful they think you are. Where do they go and do this you ask? They go and let people know on blogs, review sites and forums, and believe me – all those will start ranking for your business name, and you will find yourself with a bad online reputation management problem! If you are sincere, and take the time to listen, and let them know that it is in your best interest to find a solution to the problem – that is all they are really looking for. Once you find that common ground, and have the trust built with them, it makes dealing with the situation much easier. They might not like the solution you provide, but they are not going to let everyone know how horrible you were (because you were not).
If you have to remind people about a return policy they obviously did not read, its much better to be on their good side, then rub it in their face. I have had people who have been so mad, I used this method to calm them down, they ended up keeping the product, and then sent me an email a month later telling me how sorry they were for calling in mad, and how much they love the product now. It all comes to pass by building that relationship with every customer you get. This is not going to happen every time, but it is going to help your return rate be much lower, and your customer service rating go through the roof!
Where is my money?
Think about when you order something online, and you don’t get an email after you hit the “purchase” button confirming it. You then look on the website and either don’t find a phone number, or call one thats listed – only to get no one. You are sitting there thinking your money is lost, and you may have just become another statistic of someone being scammed online. You send in emails, and when no one gets back to you and you panic. Your next step is to contact your credit card company and do a charge back. This is the process that happens when bad customer service is offered.
The 6 Steps of Online Customer Service
If you don’t want this kind of a customer service nightmare to happen to your business, then you need to take a look at these 6 simple customer service steps:
- Auto-Responders - using auto-responders to notify customers as soon as they purchase will help them not worry about the order they just placed. Also make sure you have other emails set up and ready to send out as soon as anything changes on their order (status, shipping, back orders etc) . In other words – you need to be holding their hands through the entire process of buying from you.
- Tracking Numbers – Provide tracking numbers to the customer as soon as you have them yourself so they know exactly when to expect their packages and not keep emailing you – bugging you. Let them keep pinging the UPS or FedEx website checking the status if they are THAT impatient. Better then bugging you, and losing confidence when you don’t respond right?
- Toll Free Number – Have a 24 Hour Toll Free Number listed on your site on all pages. Make people confident that they can get a hold of you no matter what time it is. If they are considering making the purchase at 3 am in their underwear, they might see the phone number that says you can call 24/7 – it will make it a much easier choice for them to purchase. They know that they can at any time if a problem arises.
- 3 Forms of Contact – you should have several forms of contact on your site to promote those warm fuzzy feelings of potential customers. I would suggest – phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses at the very least. Now-a-days you have social networks where people can stay connected like Twitter, Facebook and what not. You could always use those mediums as forms of contact.
- Follow Up – After everything has been shipped, and the customer receives order, you want to follow up with an email, or phone call making sure that everything was satisfactory throughout the whole process. Just doing this is impressive enough, and people are going to be more then willing to give you a testimonial based on this alone. I can’t tell you how many times we get emails from customers sharing testimonials because we followed up with them and made sure everything was ok.
- Listen – Again, I feel this is the most important step in the whole process – If there are issues then you need to hear the customer out, and see their side of it, and what they want. If you build a relationship of trust with them, it will be much easier to tell them bad news (if you have to). Good customer service, and someone willing to listen will make all the difference in the world and save many sales for you.
If you follow these 6 steps I promise you that you will have less problems, and have many more testimonials sent into you. Anytime you can get customers saying good things about you, the better it is for you. If people ever ask you where they can submit a testimonial, you can let them know to either email you, or submit it to review sites like the following: Thanks to my friend Newspapergrl for sharing these online review sites with us all – These are the places that Google Local pulls their reviews from.
- Virtual Tourist.com
You should also encourage your clients (if they are pleased enough with you, they will be willing) to leave reviews on sites like Google Local, Yahoo Local and all of the other major search engines local results that allow reviews. It really is an easy thing to do – show them your listing, and then click on the link where the reviews are at, and it will ask you to write a review. It really is that simple, and it will do more for you then you probably realize at this point.
So besides sharing the testimonials on your site, you should encourage users to leave reviews about your business on review sites. This is a great method of link building too. Review sites rank well with the search engines, and provide trusted links that will help your site rank much easier. All this from good customer service? Seems worth it to me! Thoughts?