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Delivering WOW
ssgumby




msg:3958111
 2:49 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

The zappos article got me thinking about their success. We try hard to deliver WOW customer service and I feel we are successful for the most part.

What do you as a retailer do to deliver WOW?

What makes you different than your competitors when it comes to customer service?

 

simonuk




msg:3958149
 3:31 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I try to reply to all emails as soon as they come in.

If I don't have the stock to send all an order I still send part of the order and swallow the extra cost of the postage (It is my mistake after all).

I supply the tracking number in the dispatched email as well as contact numbers in case they need us. The client being able to track the order is a nice touch on our part but it has also cut down on the time spent tracking them on behalf of a client.

I have email running even in the evenings so people still get a swift response back out of hours.

Jack_Hughes




msg:3958157
 3:39 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just do the basics right, be responsive, ship in a timely manner... answer the phone. Amazing how few suppliers do that.

ooglek




msg:3958417
 9:04 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

A phone number that is answered by someone who is empowered to give fabulous support. Jack Hughes is right on.

We're all trained (by whom, I know not) to believe that customers are stupid, fussy, and demand refunds all the time for no good reason.

While that can be true, and extremely annoying, an angry customer who can call and get instant results is your BEST time to not only keep your customer, but to make them happy.

Just today I got a call from a customer who was happy, just needed something. Before I got off the call, I asked him if he found anything about our service annoying, or anything that could be improved. He actually had some really good suggestions that we're going to put in place. On top of that, our customer is now further invested in us because we listen and are easily accessible.

And earlier in the week, a customer called about an unrelated issue, and told me that the only reason he wasn't at one of our competitors was because we answer the phone and can work with him on his needs, even though the competitor offers the same service for a less money.

Yes, customer service can be annoying and frustrating, but at the end of the day, it's an opportunity for you to keep a customer happy, possibly encouraging them to spread the word about your product or service, and to get really great feedback on how you can do your job better.

akmac




msg:3958451
 10:03 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

We anticipate our customers needs and deliver the products in person the morning of the day they intend to order it.

We have an infinite return policy, are open 365 (365.25) days a year and offer free 24 hour technical support and product counseling in our customers preferred local accent and/or dialect.

Our products are always in stock, priced well below wholesale, and have double lifetime warranties.

Customizations, alterations, and exchanges are welcome.

We offer discounts based upon each individuals special circumstance, and will continue to discount until a customer stops asking.

Since the Customer Complaint of 1996 (after which the entire customer service department was sacked and senior management was executed) we've been running smoothly at a growing loss each year.

MrHard




msg:3958488
 11:09 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

we've been running smoothly at a growing loss each year

and will continue to discount until a customer stops asking

WOW, your still in business.

akmac




msg:3959138
 6:32 pm on Jul 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

OK-Seriously- it is the small things that matter. The customers we all want to gain and keep are not unreasonable. Clear communication on product, price, and delivery times are enough to meet (and in many cases exceed) expectations.

So, once we've done that? We try to personalize a bit more. We put a hand written note in each package-briefly thanking our customer.

Sometimes, I'll check back with a customer to see how they are enjoying their item-make sure it fits, etc. I've never had a customer less than thrilled by this personal contact (via email) and it often leads to additional sales.

Currently, I have a couple customers for whom we are building custom widgets of high sentimental value. I've photographed the items at various stages and will surprise them with a series print showing the process.

Obviously, this isn't feasible with every customer- but with customers spending Nearly $10,000- the time it takes is a small price to pay for providing the WOW.

dickbaker




msg:3959231
 10:03 pm on Jul 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sometimes, I'll check back with a customer to see how they are enjoying their item-make sure it fits, etc. I've never had a customer less than thrilled by this personal contact (via email) and it often leads to additional sales.

I do that with every order, and customers really appreciate it.

Beyond that, I'll spend as much time as necessary with a customer finding a product with all of the bells and whistles he needs. I've sometimes spent an hour on the phone for a $25 profit on a sale.

From 1978 until last year, my job was advertising photography. Art directors expect to be treated as royalty, and I obliged. I kept a log on each art director with notes about his favorite foods, drinks, kid's names, etc. When he/she arrived at the studio in the morning, I had fresh strawberries or whatever other snacks he/she liked on the table. The refrigerator was always filled with the person's favorite drinks. I "gifted" them often, including wedding gifts and gifts for their new babies.

Customer service with ecommerce is ridiculously simple by comparison: an email acknowledging the customer's order and indicating when the order will arrive, and a follow-up email to make sure they're happy. And customers rave over this!

grelmar




msg:3960272
 1:58 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

A phone number that is answered by someone who is empowered to give fabulous support.

The way that's worded sounds cliche, but it's true nonetheless, and unbelievably important.

Some do's and don'ts:

DO

- Make sure that the people answering the phone have been trained extensively
- Make sure they have the power to fix 90% of problems without "getting in touch with a manager"
- Make the phone# 24/7
- Treat you customer support staff like gold. If they're happy, and feel well taken care of, it comes through in their interactions with customers.
- Determine a cycle whereby senior personnel sit in on (or even answer) the support line for a day every now and then. (For us, we're offering a highly technical service/product - we actually make each of 4 senior engineers spend a day a month on the support line - you'd be amazed how many problems "vanish" never to be seen again, after one of these guys hear about it from a customer).

DON'T
- Have a support line that's answered by an answering machine.
- Outsource your support line. People know what's up when someone answers the phone sporting a thick East-Indian accent and calling himself "James" - there's a good chance they're just going out hang up, you'll never hear about it, and you've lost the customer for good.
- Outsource your support line (pt. 2) - Outsourced support services get paid for call volume - they have no vested interest in providing long term solution to those "nagging" problems. An internal employee down the hall from you gets tired of getting the same call all the time, and starts pestering people to "fix the damn thing."

I could go on and on... but I'm going to be late getting to work if I do ;)

Chrispcritters




msg:3960416
 5:31 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've seen companies customer service departments argue with customers for 30 minutes over a few dollars. The customer service person thinks they are "saving the company money" by not issuing a credit to the customer. What they don't think about is that it costs the company way more a few dollars to pay for the customer service person's time, the call, the computer, the cubical, rent, etc. Sometimes just being financially pragmatic results in "better" customer service.

HugeNerd




msg:3960617
 10:08 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sometimes, I'll check back with a customer to see how they are enjoying their item-make sure it fits, etc. I've never had a customer less than thrilled by this personal contact (via email) and it often leads to additional sales.

I do that with every order, and customers really appreciate it.

While this is amazing service that I, as a consumer, would certainly sit up and take notice of, it isn't feasible after you grow to a certain volume. I think the company I work for would love to do so, but we'd have to increase our price to pay for the additional employees it would take. We do use a 3rd party service for feedback, but it is extremely impersonal (automated) by comparison. I'm sure from the outside the difference is even more striking if you purchased from your site and mine.

Note (Answered a call while writing this): One easy way to make customers happy is to work with a manufacturer who has a good defective allowance policy. One of my manufacturers provides me with a refund at the end of the fiscal year (a % of my overall invoices) which acts as a defective allowance. Assuming their defective allowance adequately covers the actual cost of defects and warranty replacements (hasn't been short once yet...fingers crossed) I can actually add it to my bottom line. Win-win situation for me and the customer -- more money for me, hassle free warranty replacement for the customer.

Actual WOW moment for me recently: A mistake was made by a mechanic while doing some work on my car; forgot to tell me about a line-item on the work he was doing...at my request. My car was finished on time with the mistake having been cleared up without my knowledge of it ever even existing. It would have been $35, so not going to break the bank. Still, they told me about it and said it was on the house. I'd go back there in a heartbeat. In fact, I am going back there with another car in th coming weeks. Even if they manufactured the problem themselves, I was impressed.

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