It may sound trite, but that old business saying we’ve heard since our first high school job still rings true. We all know today that there’s nothing more important than customers – and future customers – for eCommerce growth and Shopify sales.
The cardinal rule of business has always been that a company must provide quality service to its customers. With the rapid evolution of retail sales on the internet, ever-changing technological advances, and reduced face-to-face customer service experiences, “the customer is king” means so much more. eCommerce growth depends on not only saying you believe in excellent customer service but going above and beyond to provide it.
Why is customer service so important?
As we know, customers are critical to your Shopify business’s success. It’s on you to provide an excellent first impression of your business and services and to maintain that trustworthy, quality image. Their perception of you is their reality. Here are a few examples of why your customer is truly king.
Keeping customers happy is easier (and cheaper) than attracting new business
If you handle your own marketing, you know how true this statement is! All kinds of companies pour resources into attracting new clients when they should be focusing on improving the service to returning customers. Repeat, long term business is what drives eCommerce growth for many stores. Satisfied buyers are more likely to refer their family, friends, and other business contacts through word-of-mouth referrals. They do the work of marketing for you! If you have a steady stream of ongoing business, there’s no need to put so much time, money, and effort into attracting new customers.
- Connectivity has its ups and downs
Speaking of word-of-mouth, customers have never been more connected than they are now, in the internet age. eCommerce can be an excellent opportunity for people with great ideas or products. We can take advantage of platforms like Shopify to reach people across the world who need or want what we’re selling. But connectivity is a two-sided coin. What once may have been one lousy customer interaction can now be shared with millions. One poorly handled transaction can damage the consumer perception of your company with your entire customer base.
● Without customers, there are no Shopify sales
Yeah, this one is pretty obvious. Can you think of any company that doesn’t need customers or clients of some kind? No matter what type of customers you have, the growth of your Shopify sales depends on them! Get to know your customers, make what is important to them relevant to you, and develop your customer service policies from there.
● Exceptional customer service will set your store apart
Don’t just guess at what your customer wants or how they want to be treated – ask them. When customers see you value their opinion and experience so much that you ask for their personal views, you’ll build more brand trust and loyalty. And don’t stop there. Implement policies and develop products that fit what your customers are requesting. Nothing will drive your Shopify sales more than customer’s getting exactly what they want.
How does bad customer service affect your eCommerce growth?
Honestly, a bad review from a single unsatisfied customer can devastate your eCommerce growth. Just one poorly handled interaction can slap your Shopify store with a bad reputation worldwide, thanks to the Internet.
Customer service is especially vital to brands just starting. Reputation is everything in our review-driven world, and one or two unsatisfied customers in your first month of business can sink your store. You don’t have to be new to the world of online sales to feel the burn either. Even an established store can experience a drop in Shopify sales after receiving a negative review.
Keep your focus on the big picture. It might be hard to allow a customer to be right in the middle of a dispute, but that’s the smart way to go in business. Don’t risk tanking your sales and keep in mind that in retail, the customer is ALWAYS king.
15 ways to maintain excellent customer service
When your store is brand new, and you’ve only got a handful of customers, it isn’t hard to keep on top of excellent customer service. You can provide personal attention to each of them, and you always have a feel for what they want.
That can change quickly as your Shopify sales increase. You may have to add employees, which separates you from personally interacting with your valued customers. All that eCommerce growth is excellent for your wallet but can damage customer service. Your best bet for maintaining that small business feeling for your customers is to develop a customer service policy and enforce it.
Here are some ideas you can use to be sure your clients are still getting the service they deserve.
- A written customer service policy. Share your customer service principles with your employees. Make sure they know the rules and can rise to your standards of behavior. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but make sure you’re clear that “the customer is always right.”
- Support your employees in maintaining superior customer service. Employees that feel supported are just going to work harder – and better- for you and your customers. Give them ways to solve customer problems independently and reward them for practicing your methods consistently.
- Be inspiring with your passion for customer service – it’s contagious! Show employees how excellent service increases eCommerce growth and Shopify sales. Increased business isn’t just good for you; it’s good for them and their future at your company.
- Strive sincerely to provide better customer service than any other store in your industry. Customers and employees alike will feel this sincerity.
- Listen to your employees. Hold regular meetings to hear your employees’ opinions on how customer service can change and improve in your business. They’re the ones dealing with customers day-to-day. They’ll have all the new ideas.
Tell them what they want to hear
There are specific key phrases that can smooth over interactions with customers for you and your employees. Share them with your staff and make sure they understand the importance of these retail “magic words.”
- “Let us solve that problem.” Customers want to buy a solution to their problem. A direct approach to solving their problem is something any customer will appreciate.
- “Can I help you?” By asking this question, you’re giving your customers the chance to explain exactly what their problem his and how they want you to help. Don’t try to guess what a customer wants; just listen. Making a customer feel heard will also make them feel valued, inviting repeat business.
- “I’m not sure, but I will find out.” If you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question, be honest! Most people can tell when someone is faking an answer, and that can ruin your credibility. Integrity is essential in this age of faceless online shopping interactions, so being upfront and honest about your knowledge and abilities will set you apart from other shops.
- “I’ll take care of that personally.” Tell your customer you’ll make it your responsibility to make sure they’re satisfied both with the delivery and the product. Let them know they can come to you with any questions or concerns.
- “I appreciate your business.” This simple sentence, said with sincerity, means more than just “thanks.”
Keep it personal
One underutilized tool for increasing customer satisfaction with your business and encouraging repeat business is the follow-up. As soon as you express your appreciation for their business, ask a customer if they’re happy with your customer service and your products. Beyond that initial follow up, here are a few more helpful ways to keep your business on your customer’s radar – in a good way!
- Keep them informed. Whether through a mailed flyer or an email newsletter, let your customers know what you’re doing to provide a more excellent product or to improve your customer service experience. Make sure they know it isn’t all about the Shopify sales for you – it’s about making things easier for them.
- Include a handwritten note. Again, don’t worry about making it elaborate. Just a quick handwritten note tucked in with a customer’s order, expressing your gratitude for their business.
- Make things personal. Text, chat, and email make communication fast and easy, but it eliminates all the benefits a salesperson has in face-to-face conversation. Or at least voice-to-voice. If you’re having trouble communicating with a demanding customer, consider calling directly or, if they’re local to you, setting up an appointment to sit down and work the problem out. Sometimes just putting a face to the problem can make things smoother.
- Make a note of special occasions. Send cards on holidays, significant anniversaries, and birthdays – maybe with a discount code included – for your loyal customers. Gifts are a great way to follow up as well. Everyone remembers a complementary product or service from a brand they like. Don’t worry about making it too fancy, just a little something to show customers you put more thought into them than just making a sale.
- Share interests. If you see a read a new book or article you think may interest a customer, share it! If you see a movie or hear of an event or organization they might like, pass it on! Shared interests and common ground builds trust and loyalty.
How to deal with dissatisfied customers
Even after your best efforts, every business is going to have unsatisfied customers. Most customers never tell you they’re unsatisfied in a direct way. They leave a negative review or write a Facebook post letting everyone they know not to shop through your store. Keep this in mind the next time a customer complains directly. Thank them for the opportunity to improve your product or service and change their minds. That comment alone will probably give them some pause in their righteous anger.
Here’s how to handle your next customer complaint to achieve positive results:
- Just let your customer vent. Getting all their irritation out in the open will probably cool them off a lot more than all the placating in the world.
- Explain your side – but be polite!
- There are no excuses in sales. It isn’t the customer’s problem if an employee made a mistake or your supplier was running late.
- Don’t put off fixing the problem. If a customer takes the time to come to you with their complaint, show them you value their time and effort by not delaying the solution.
- Give your sales and customer service employees the power to solve problems for customers. Let them bend the return policies a little, or give them the option to offer a discount or coupon. Make sure they know they have manager support behind their choices.
Long live the King and your Shopify sales!
No matter how long you’ve owned your Shopify store, an essential part of maintaining your eCommerce growth will always be your customers (current and potential). The way you treat them will make or break your business in the long run. Make sure your customers never feel like they’re just another transaction. Let them know how much their business means to you, both with your words and your actions.