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Ecommerce Forum

I don't get other business owners

 9:51 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Other web biz owners constantly amaze me. I couldn't begin to count how many times stuff like this has happened to me, but here's just a few in the last week...

1. Took the time to send an email to a biz that I had purchased personal things from, just to tell them that I thought they had the best site by far in the niche... Which is true, they do... The other sites for the niche are hideous. But I did have one small caveat... I mentioned they sent one wrong item the other day, but I told them it's OK... I can use it eventually. No reply. Now... Even if they're too lazy and rude to thank somebody for a major compliment, they at least had the business obligation to apologize for a mistake... I would kiss somebody's a** if they let me off the hook for a mistake.

2. Sent an email to another biz owner and told them how good I thought their site was and also thought they offered some good products. No reply.

3. Had to email a local biz three times to get a quote for a job before they finally answered... then when they did, they didn't apologize for ignoring me the first times, and also acted like they couldn't care less if they got the job or not... Even though their site has the usual sales BS all over the place, telling you they'd "be happy to email you a quote for any job".

4. Emailed a biz that sent me items which were not as advertised... They had a photo of something that was not exactly the model they sent. After looking into it, I realized it was the manufacturer that took the wrong photo. I emailed the retailer and told him right up front that I wasn't really complaining, because I would still keep it... but I said I just wanted to let him know that the photo was wrong, so he wouldn't have problems with other orders. No reply for a week, then when he did he had this totally defensive attitude, like I had just insulted his mother or something. No apology, no thanks... Nothing.

Keep in mind... These are not giant companies or something... These are small businesses. So my question is... What the heck is up with these people? Are they lazy? Are they ignorant? Are they just overly defensive and think every little problem is a personal attack on them? I have never once to my knowledge, ignored somebody's email. Never. No matter how annoying, or how much trouble it would mean for me. And I certainly have never ignored a complimentary email. I have no idea why anybody would do that.



 10:16 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was writing a post on our blog on this topic with respect to agencies. It's amazing how many businesses don't understand what good customer service is. Being upfront, transparent, and kind goes a long way in this world.

I also don't get it because I am such a firm believer in integrity, trust, and transparency. It's at our company's foundation, but our foundation is completely different than the foundation of other companies.

Whatever justification is behind being able to disregard such basic qualities of good service at a company's core baffles me. I think part of the reason why is because when you're online, some people think that just because you don't see the person you're interacting with, there's more room to disregard them as if they were never there. But when you meet them face to face, they smile and nod and have a happy-go-lucky conversation with you.



 11:36 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I hate to admit this, but...

Sometimes I have been negligent getting back to customers - even those that thank me - because I've been so swamped trying to do too many things at once.

With the economy the way it is, unfortunately following up with customers has been relegated to the back burner on certain days.


 12:03 am on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here's a rule of thumb I find works well: People are stupid. Heck, I should get a T-shirt made up that says that, except I'd probably offend even more poeple than that time I said my sites don't get penalized.

There's a forum in my niche where the sales people did a big thread on SEO. It was like you took DP and Warrior forums and mixed them together - loud AND stupid. Anyway they're actually ranting about publicly about how much a niche directory owner was making from listings. Being the helpful diplomat that I am, I pointed out that in the first month I'd made 7X what I'd paid for an annual listing. Then I called them a pack of idiots because they were worried about how much someone else was making rather than how much they were making (might have screwed up the diplomat part). I suggested that if I was going to worry about anything, it was how I could pay even more for a second listing.

But that's people for you, if they have to pay someone $1 in order to make $5, they get all worried that you're making $1. Many would rather save the $1, keep it for themselves. The fact that they'll have $4 more doesn't get on their radar.


 12:17 am on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Planet13 That's totally understandable. I wonder if there is a way around that situation. A forum, or a blog that answers frequently asked questions?

@wheel Totally agree with you on your last point. I struggle with giving myself sometimes. I know I will get back more than what I give, but that first act of giving makes me nervous or seems risky. I wonder if it's a "collect shiny things and don't share them like a monkey" syndrome.

Working on it every day!


 9:52 am on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Trouble is that email makes it easier to communicate and computers mean that businesses both small and large don't have the levels of clerical staff that they did 30 years ago.

I certainly don't have time to respond to every email. In my first office job in the early 70s every single customer letter (it was all letters then of course) had to have an acknowledgement in the post that night. That isn;t something you see anywhere these days.


 3:28 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Its called natural selection - a wonderful system that ensures only the best/strongest/smartest of a species survives in the animal world, and which in the human world, deftly & supremely separates out those who shouldn't be in a consumer-based business or perhaps, no business at all, with those who just simply shine doing the simplest of things and who are attentive to all the detail of life.


 3:29 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

We respond to every single customer email, no matter the content of the email. Some emails are so way out there that they could easily be ignored but we still respond. An example "we love your products and want to sell them too, please email me the distributors you use and/or let me know if you could drop ship our orders". We strive to reply to all emails within hours, but at a most within 24 hours. We are not a one man or woman shop though, we do have customer support reps in house that take the bulk of the email.


 3:30 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yep, if you email me about business, it takes a stake and holy water to get rid of me.


 3:46 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd be curious if those who find it difficult to keep up with replies, especially single person shops, have spread themselves thin across so many communication channels and become overwhelmed with which one to turn to next. By communication channels I mean, telephone, email, Skype, online chat, Facebook, Twitter, the list goes on...

If streams of communications were consolidated to 1 or 2 sources such and telephone and email would you then get a better grip on it?


 4:05 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Good point. I really only work via phone or email. And it's mostly by phone.

Added bonus, my wife acts as receptionist so she fields much of the customer service and non-relevant inquiries. So I mostly only have to deal on the phone with actual clients or potential purchasers.

I also try to stay on top of my email. If I get an email and it's not responded to, it stays in my inbox. And I try and keep my inbox empty. I've got 3 domain registrations in there right now that I'm working on, and a favor for a competitor that's been there for a couple of months. The last one is low priority, but it'll look at it until its done.


 4:46 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

dpd1 SHHHHH! This is how us small businesses that respond to emails and do the customer right have an edge! :-) We realized this long ago, my wife's site is small and minor, but the people in the niche still order from her because the competitors are morons in these respects. They all have huge sites with thousands of products, but they drop ship, take three weeks to deliver, and never respond to emails. Leave them be! :-)


 4:55 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

LOL @ SilverShine - So true!


 4:55 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sometimes it just comes down to who the person is that gets these "open letter" type emails. If it is a level receptionist or a sales guy they may not care to reply. Maybe their pay is crap, maybe they are swamped.

Sometimes a phone call is better, or an email directed at the owner/president or someone higher on the chain. I realize that a lot of the time that isn't possible, but I know there is a often a huge difference between a response from an employee and a stakeholder.


 8:24 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

We strive to reply to all emails within hours, but at a most within 24 hours. We are not a one man or woman shop though, we do have customer support reps in house that take the bulk of the email.

I believe that your support reps want you to think that they answer every email.

A few unhappy customers will email daily (if not hourly) as long as you (or your support reps) continue to reply with anything but a full refund of their purchase + shipping + pain/suffering.

If your support reps tell you they answer *every* email, that's a bit unusual. I have to believe that there are some customers that go directly into the bit-bin?


 8:31 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Added bonus, my wife acts as receptionist so she fields much of the customer service and non-relevant inquiries.

I'd like to have a wife that does that. Actually... I'd like to have a wife that does anything.


 10:12 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

jwolthuis, we have a customer support tracking system which generates an id for all incoming email among other things. Essentially it creates a ticket. I can view a report to see what emails have been unanswered and for how long. Its a sort of queue. In general we do refund an unhappy customer without question. We start by trying to rectify, as the issue escalates we escalate the response until its a full refund. Keep in mind our orders are relatively small, about $70 on average. We do strive to be perfect and we go above and beyond in every way possible, so our unhappy customers are rare, we DO have some and a few irate ones but again they are rare.


 12:35 am on Jun 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

My experience has been that most people will actually put up with quite a bit. As long as you tell them what's going on and treat them with respect. Ignoring people is the absolute absolute worse thing you can do.


 5:07 am on Jun 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd like to have a wife that does that. Actually... I'd like to have a wife that does anything.

She also seems to take it as a challenge to cook something enticing and different for dinner every single night. I am one fat, happy man.


 7:35 am on Jul 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

A few gems I experienced today...

A vendor who use to be pretty decent, apparently slipped into insanity recently. They dumped their whole old site and replaced it with a horrificly screwed up one, where thousands of categories are not alphabetized... They took away the ability to see if something is in stock, and then added a feature where you have to "register" to buy. I tried to register, then it said I have to have a 'customer ID' to do that. 15 minutes later after digging through my invoices from last year, I find my ID and put it in. It says thanks, then refuses to let me in. Then it sends me an email saying that I have not been 'allowed' as a customer yet. Apparently they have to 'allow' you to be their customer and give them money. Which I have already done in the past, giving them thousands of dollars. I guess that's not enough to be able to freakn' buy something on the site. I deserved it, since they took 3 months to refund payment on an overcharge last time I used them, and it took about 8 calls to finally get them to do it.

Next site was another vendor. Out of the last two orders (my first with them), they put in the wrong items each time. So they're two for two. (I've never sent anybody the wrong item a single time in 10 years) I went to email them about it and found that they have an anti spam confirmation setup on their email, so I then had to spend 10 minutes filling that out. It's like... 'Sorry, we don't like wasting our time with spam... So we'll make our customers waste their time instead'.

Third try today was searching desperately to find another vendor to sell me the stuff I needed from the first guys. Virtually every site I went to was a total disaster. I tried the least of the offenders... went through the painful process of navigating their site to get all the right parts... Had to fill out the info twice (no auto repeat on the shipping address)... then on the last step it informed me that I had to buy 100 pieces of the item to meet the minimum. I wanted 5. No mention of this anywhere on the products or on the site.

Is business really so good that people can do this stuff? Seriously... Shocking.


 11:04 pm on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is a reason such a high percentage of small businesses fail. Many small business owners fail to recognize the importance of customer service, and listening to customers. They get all wrapped up in everyday B.S. and forget that the customers matter...a lot.

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