Providing great customer service online
Make sure your small business has the excellent online customer service they want. Melinda Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady, is one of America's leading small business experts and is a paid contributor for Wells Fargo.
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Hi, I'm Ed Lawler for the Wells Fargo Business Insight Series. Today we're talking about providing great customer service online. Joining me is Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady and author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. Thanks for joining me today, Melinda.
Thank you for having me, Ed.
Today, providing excellent customer service online is crucial, as consumers increasingly buy products and research brands on the web. How can a small business owner begin to provide digital service to clients?
First, customers should be able to reach a service representative directly from the company's website. A great tool is livechat.com, which enables staff to communicate with website visitors right from your home page. It's also important to post the hours this service is available. And when setting your hours, keep in mind that you may have customers in different time zones, or even international customers.
How can a small business owner prepare staff to use these tools, and interact with customers on the web?
One essential step is to develop your return policy, and make sure that it's somewhere prominent on your website. You also want to empower your customer service staff to fix problems up to a certain dollar amount. Something like, if it's under $100, they can fix it for the client.
You should also be using a customer relationship management program, or a CRM, to track your interactions with customers. You should use this software to organize and store customer information and interactions. This will help you foster rapport with customers and keep them coming back.
Melinda, do you have any tips for interacting with customers online?
Train your team to handle situations that are likely to arise frequently. Create a list of frequently asked questions that you get from customers every day, and give your staff guidelines for responding to them via email or in person. Also, share these frequently asked questions on your website. This gives customers all the information they need when making purchasing decisions.
What steps should service representatives take after the initial online customer interaction?
You must ensure that your customer service representative follows through appropriately. If a customer contacts an online representative with a complaint, the representative should contact that customer again after two weeks to confirm that he or she is satisfied. Also, the customer should always interact with the same representative. While online interaction allows your business to be available to everyone, never underestimate the power of picking up the phone and providing one-on-one contact.
Another key aspect is to follow through with customers to say, "Thank you for your business." A simple way to do this is to set up an automated email response that's sent 7-10 days after a client makes a purchase from your website. Showing a little bit of gratitude will make your business stand out from the crowd.
What is the most important element of providing customer service on the web?
The timeliness of your response is key to great online customer service. This is especially relevant regarding unhappy customers. Respond to all customer complaints right away. No business owner likes seeing negative comments on social media, or his or her website, but honest feedback is a gift. When you address customers' concerns immediately, you build trust, and a more positive relationship with that customer going forward.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Melinda.
It's my pleasure.
And thank you for joining us for this segment of the Business Insight Series. To learn more about how Wells Fargo Business Banking can help you, visit wellsfargo.com/biz. In the meantime, we wish you continued success.