Updated: Jul 3
When business owners think of customer service they usually cringe. The idea of having to take on aggressive inquiries, grievances, and seemingly meaningless complaints from customers is usually the biggest fear of many budding entrepreneurs. Negative feedback can make you feel worthless or feel like giving up.
In the creative industry sometimes we want to just create and not think about what other people want. But once you decide to take money for your products or services, you absolutely have to consider your customer.
In this article, I will address a few tips to make the customer experience and feedback process much smoother.
Creating a sense of security through website experience
Having a brand identity
Having a cohesive, easy-to-navigate website goes a long way. This goes back to having an established brand look and feel. Having the logo, color palette, high-res photos, graphics, etc. is the best way to keep your customer's attention. Consumers respect a business that takes the time to fine tune the details to create an enjoyable customer visual experience.
Having established policies
Creating a policies page on your site is important. Make sure it is easy to find, and that you remind customers of this page in each product listing.
Shipping and fulfillment policies are a REQUIREMENT. I put this in all caps because this is where you will probably get the most customer inquiries. Be very clear on shipping & handling, returns & exchanges, and what a customer should do if they do have an issue in these areas. If you sell on a marketplace, make sure to copy-and-paste your the most important policies directly into your listing descriptions.
Having an FAQs page
Potential customers enjoy knowing that there is detailed information present on your shop. It prevents them from having to click the "Contact Us" button and creating an FAQs page on questions you frequently receive from customers, or questions you know you should clarify before a customer purchases goes saves both parties time and energy. If you have an FAQs page, it should be a "living" part of your website, which means you should always be updating the page about changes in shipping, fulfillment, size options, product details, design process, etc.
Answering customer inquiries
It is important to answer customer questions in a timely manner. Waiting days or ignoring messages is a common BIG mistake that most businesses make. A good way to prevent this is by designating a block of time everyday to respond customer messages. Then check once (or twice) more for responses. An easy way to do this is to add the respective app for your online store to your phone and turn on notifications during a specific time each day.
Add a chat to your website
A chat will allow you to talk to customers in real time. You can also set your availability and have meaningful conversations with potential customers.
Leave it to the professionals
Hire a customer service rep to deal with customer grievances. This may not be feasible in your business's early stages, but when you begin to have high volumes of customers it may be a wise decision to outsource some of the customer service responsibilities to a professional.
How to use customer opinions to strengthen your brand
Let’s take a look at marketplaces like Etsy that thrive off of customer feedback. A positive review gives potential customers the opportunity to experience your products before they purchase. Receiving negative reviews from a customer will allow you to reflect on the quality of not only your products and services, but also the customer experience, from the time they enter your website to shipping and fulfillment.
Customer surveys are sometimes the best way to get answers to questions directly from people who use your products or potential customers. Surveys with added perks upon completion are an incentive for consumers who may have been waiting for that Free Shipping or 10% discount.
When in doubt, ask a question on social media. The easiest way to get customer opinions is simply by asking. Posing a question on a post our story may give you the data you need to move forward on a decision you were on the fence about.
What to do when the customer is wrong
If you are receiving the same types of feedback from multiple customers, it may be time to make some changes, but in rare cases you will experience customer complaints and bad reviews that are just not warranted.
Try to take the following steps when addressing a customer who may be in the wrong:
Thank them for their support and feedback
Clarify what your policies are
Offer them an opportunity to resolve the issue through a return or exchange (if you offer it)
If they are continuing to be disrespectful, trust, it is not worth the headache a time to go back and forth all day. You may want to offer a refund on the return of the product.
If the item is custom and you cannot refund, offer customer perks such as discounts on future purchases.
One unfortunate thing is that these steps may not work and you may have to end the conversation with no resolution. All you can do is continue to grow and improve your business offerings. If a customer doesn’t think highly of your product or service, the best ways to prove them wrong are by improving and never giving up.
Addressing a review on Etsy
If you are on a platform like Etsy and the customer leaves a negative review before reaching out to you privately, then you should reach out to them privately, clarify your shop policies, then ask them if there is anything you can do to resolve the situation. If they do not respond or change the rating (give them a few days or so to respond), then go ahead and leave a public response under their review— his will prevent them from being able to change the rating, but may be necessary if the review could effect your sales.
In a respectful way, thank the customer for the feedback, explain what policies you have in place that address their issue, and also make it known that you reached out to them privately to resolve the issue.
What this lets potential customers know is that you care about their feedback, that they can reach out to you if they have an issue with their order, that you have policies in place, and that you are not afraid to protect your brand. Now, this is something you should do only if you have proof that you were not in the wrong.
If you are in the business of making money, the customer's opinion is always key. This also is heavily influenced by who your ideal customer is.
If you are marketing to the wrong customer, this may impact their expectations of your product. For example, customers in their 20s may expect a different online shopping experience than those who are in their 40s.
The customer may not always be right, but they play a vital role in your business’s success.
Here are a few resources to help you through the customer experience: