Keeping customers well informed about the purchases they make at your store should be your top priority, both before and after the sale. Addressing your consumers’ concerns and inquiries in a timely and competent manner will help minimizes disputes and reduce chargebacks.
Web-based merchants need to go a step further than their brick-and-mortar counterparts when developing their communication channels, because, by taking away the face-to-face interaction, their starting position already places them at a disadvantage. In order to overcome this hurdle, e-commerce merchants must establish a customer service strategy that ensures that consumers can easily and quickly get answers to their questions and concerns. Implementing the following best practices into your customer service procedures will help you achieve that goal:
- Allow customers to contact you by email. Your customers will often have questions or concerns about the product or service they bought or about your return or refund policies, for example. By providing customers with an easy way to contact you via email, followed up by a prompt and sufficiently informative response, will help minimize customer disputes, which often lead to chargebacks. The following best practices should be followed:
- Display your email contact option in a way that is clearly visible and accessible from anywhere on your website. Placing the contact link within your website’s header or sidebar would usually do the trick.
- For a more efficient handling of customer inquiries, provide separate email contacts for questions regarding your service / product information, customer support, back order / shipping information.
- Develop a response policy for email inquiries. Consider implementing the following procedures:
- Use auto-respond emails to acknowledge receipt of email inquiries. In these auto-responses you should provide information on the expected time frame for submitting a complete response. Stick to these time frames!
- Make sure that you have sufficient staff to handle the incoming inquiries in a timely manner.
- Establish standards for email inquiry response and monitor your staff’s performance. Consider implementing the following concrete steps:
- Set a standard time frame for responding to 100 percent of all email inquiries (for example 1 business day). You may consider using shorter time frames for responding to 75 percent or 90 percent of the inquiries.
- Monitor your customer service staff’s performance to ensure that these standards are met and make adjustments, if necessary.
- Provide customers with a toll-free telephone number for customer service support. Some customers may not be comfortable with via email correspondence or may just prefer discussing their concerns over the phone. Telephone customer service may be costly, but it is an option that you must make available. Specifically:
- Prominently display your toll-free customer service number on your website. Just as with the email option, placing the link within the header or sidebar will usually ensure it is present on every page of your website.
- Make sure that your customer service department is adequately staffed to handle the incoming calls on a timely basis.
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