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Customer Service Online

18. November 2010 20:26

customer service

There are lots of things to consider when you plan to take the leap into eCommerce.  One of the most neglected, but most important, is customer service.  A lot of businesses assume they can set-up a website and payment solution and it will take care of itself.

Due to the fact that customers cannot physically see/feel the products you sell online prior to purchase you WILL get customers asking you questions.  The amount and type of product queries you get will depend on the type of products you sell on your website and the prices they sell for.

The other type of customer query you will need to deal with concerns fulfilment.

“When will my purchase be dispatched?”

“My purchase hasn’t arrived”

“I was sent the wrong colour product”

“My order was missing XYZ product”

What is your delivery charge?”


Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page

If you spend some time creating an FAQ page on your website you can avoid a lot of emails and phone calls about the most common customer queries, but you still need to be responsive to customers and give them customer service when required. 

This is more important online than in a physical shop because they have bought a product from you without ever meeting you or your business.  They have put a certain amount of trust in you and your business.

Customer Service Touch Points

Set up various customer touch points such as a dedicated customer service email inbox, a free-phone or local rate customer service phone line and make sure you answer customer queries promptly.

Proactive Customer Service

If there is a problem with a customers order, then let them know as soon as possible and how you plan to resolve the issue.  Most customers will be happy to wait a bit longer or choose a similar product as an alternative. 

Remember if you screw up you could lose any repeat business from those customers!  On the flipside if you provide a great service, you are more likely to get recommended to others and generate more sales.

Picture used under Creative Commons from Alan Cleaver


Category: Ecommerce

Understanding the Purchasing Cycle

7. January 2010 17:28

The customer buying cycle defines the stages a customer goes through while making a purchasing decision.

The purchasing cycle is important because customers need different information at each stage of the process.

In order to maximise the effectiveness of your website in generating revenue you need to optimise your website to help the customer at each stage.

The Purchasing Cycle

Lets look at each stage of the customer purchasing cycle.

 The purchasing cycle

Recognition of a Need

The customer has identified that they need a certain product or service.

This is where your marketing campaigns can be used to raise awareness of your products and services. Think email newsletters, search marketing campaigns etc…

Research Stage

This is the information gathering stage.  The customer maybe weeks or months away from making a purchase.

The internet is increasingly becoming a tool for product research, so it’s vital that you provide as much information on your website as possible to help potential customers at this stage.

Because a customer maybe months away from making a decision it's a good idea to try and make sure you can proactively contact them to remind them of your company’s products and services.

Try to get them to sign-up to email newsletters, request a call back at a specified time etc.

Analysis Stage

The customer has decided they need your product or service but they have not yet committed to purchasing it from your company.
They are now looking into the features and benefits of your product/service and comparing it to your competition.

You need to provide your customers with your unique selling proposition (USP) - Why should they purchase from you?

Consider the power of testimonials from previous customers to give people confidence in your company and its products and services.

Make it easy for the customer to compare the features of your product/service with your competitors solutions.

Provide detailed and accurate product specifications so the customer can determine whether it meets their needs.

Buying Stage

The customer has decided to purchase and is buying your product.

This is your opportunity to offer them special offers, convince them to purchase a different product or service or additional products.

Post Buying Stage

Product/Service has been purchased.  You will need to follow up the purchase with good customer service keep your customers satisfied.

Remember: Retaining existing customers is important as attracting new customers is much more difficult and costly in comparison.

Not Providing Good Product Information Can Drive Your Customers Away!

1. January 2010 13:42

In order to sell or promote products on the web you must provide good product information in order to give your customers confidence before they click the buy button.

When customers shop online they require more product information compared to shopping for the same items in brick and mortar shops as there is no tangible product to hold no salesperson to ask and no product displays to read.

As a result of poor product information many ecommerce websites are losing sales to competitors who are spending the time to make shopping online as painless as possible for their consumers.

Here’s an example of a few misleading ecommerce pages from a large UK clothing store.

Confusing product images

In this case the product has several images and a decent amount of product information.
However when would you realise that you were only buying the shirt and not the matching tie?

It doesn’t mention anywhere that the tie is not included or sold separately.

Conflicting product descriptions

Another item from the same store features a pair of suit trousers, but if you look more closely you’ll notice the conflicting product information.

Are they machine washable at 40 degrees or dry clean only?

After looking at these two products would you have confidence purchasing items from this store?