Common Customer Service Mistakes All Online Stores Should Avoid

If you can imagine it, it can be purchased on the web. From everyday grooming accessories to automobiles to real estate, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that can’t be bought online. With countless online stores filling every conceivable niche, the proprietors of these establishments face stiff competition from all sides. As such, repeat business and customer loyalty have become more important than ever, and to obtain them, stores must embrace the tenets of good customer service.

To help your online store flourish and ensure that it remains in business for years to come, make a point of avoiding these all-too-common customer service blunders.

Allowing Customer Emails to Linger

When communicating with customers in a traditional retail setting, you have no choice but to provide immediate responses to concerns, complaints and queries. However, interacting with customers online is a different story. In many cases, email is their only means of reaching out to you, and if you don’t feel like responding to a message in a timely manner, you technically don’t have to. After all, it’s easy to ignore a customer if they aren’t standing right in front of you.

While it may be tempting to adopt this type of blasé approach to answering customer emails, this can ultimately hurt your enterprise in the long run. If a customer feels as if their needs are being ignored, they’re unlikely to give your store repeat business. Additionally, in the age of social media, many disgruntled patrons won’t hesitate to share their disdain on Facebook, Twitter and other popular outlets. So not only can refusing to answer emails result in the loss of individual patrons, it also stands to create negative buzz around your store. To avoid this, make a point of answering every customer query within 24 hours of receiving it.

Poor Payment Processing  

In the digital age, consumers aren’t fond of unnecessary waiting, especially when it comes to online shopping. As such, stores that needlessly belabor the checkout process and/or utilize less-than-perfect credit card processing software often draw the ire of patrons. For many modern-day consumers, speed is the name of the game, and if your store is unable to provide it, countless others can. This is why it’s important to seek out dependable card processing programs and prioritize speed and convenience when fine-tuning your store’s checkout apparatus.

Impolite Tone

In addition to responding to customer emails in an expedient fashion, you’ll need to strike the right tone in your communiqués. When composing email replies, many people utilize a minimalistic, informal tone. While this tone is suitable for texts and emails between friends, it won’t do you any favors with unsatisfied customers. Even if no offense is intended, such a tone suggests that no real thought goes into your replies and that customer queries are barely worth your time.

If you’re going to take the time to respond to customer emails, you may as well do it right. This means using proper spelling and grammar and composing complete sentences. Additionally, take care to use polite language and avoid coming off as curt or combative, even if a customer is being particularly difficult.

Failure to Choose One’s Battles

As any experienced retail worker can attest, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with unsatisfied customers. Unfortunately, many online retailers make the mistake of meticulously sticking to their guns and refusing to budge when it comes to store policy. Even if your policies regarding returns, refunds and exchanges are succinctly laid out on your site and/or digital receipts, some customers will inevitably demand special treatment. Of course, whether they receive it is up to you, but in some instances, it will be in your best interest to bend the rules a bit. For example, if a loyal longtime customer wants to return an item past the designated return date, you’d do well to let them. Refusing this request may result in the loss of repeat business, which will ultimately cost you more than a single late return.

Far too many online store proprietors treat customer service as an afterthought. Since online retail lacks the face-to-face component of brick-and-mortar retail, a fair number of store owners put customer service on the backburner. However, by adopting this approach, they’re essentially encouraging patrons to take their business elsewhere, and in the age of digital shopping, mistreated customers can easily find more agreeable alternatives. In the interest of keeping your customers happy and your business financially solvent, steer clear of the mistakes discussed above.

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