Q:My online orders are down. How do I improve customer service online?
A: If your online orders are down, faulty customer service could be to blame. The best thing to do is to think like the first-time buyers visiting your website. Your business is an unknown commodity to these people, and they have many unanswered questions: Is this a legitimate company? What if I pay for a product, and they don't ship it? Who do I contact with a question or complaint? How do they handle returns and refunds? Meanwhile, customers who have already bought from you had these questions answered when they placed their first orders.
The goal of any commercial website should be to make customers feel like they're actually holding or seeing your product in person. One way to increase customers' comfort levels is to have information-driven pictures accompanying your product descriptions so there's no confusion about the products. It's also important to make your site easy to navigate so it quickly answers customers' questions about deliveries, payments, shipping and refunds. And make sure your website contains your company's complete contact information, including the company's mailing address, phone numbers and important e-mail addresses.
Next, get serious about delivering good service. Create a strict time frame for responding to customers, and install an automatic e-mail response generator that lets customers know their orders have been received and also lists the items to be shipped. Send another e-mail when the order actually ships. Amazon.com is a good model for this strategy.
An automatic e-mail response to customer e-mails sent via your company website is another way to let customers know their message went through and that it will be answered shortly. Even better, make a company representative instantly available through e-mail and phone. With online sales in particular, you must practice the three A's: accuracy, availability and accountability. Practice makes perfect, and the payoff will be huge.