How not to do customer service…

December 14, 2012 9:48 am

I’ve had a negative ecommerce experience this week that got me thinking about how lacking some internet retailers are in customer service. So if you’ll allow me 700 words of your time, I’d like to share my experience!

I would have liked to shop local and checked out the quality of an important item requested from Father Christmas this year. However, the item I was looking for, a Fender Mini Stratocaster guitar for my son, was unavailable anywhere near me, so I scoured online. Not looking for a package, or any extras – the deal maker for me was going to be price vs delivery speed vs delivery price. So my internet search began! I used Google shopping, which I often use for price comparison on items.

Bingo! Lowest price item with free next day delivery! So I quickly placed my order and got my order confirmation through and waited.

Next day – no show. Ok, it’s Christms and it might be Mr Courier at fault, so left it another day before emailing asking if my order was winging it’s way to me. No reply. Next day, again no reply.

So we’re now 4 days after ordering, and I’m a little impatient (as we Internet shoppers are when we’re told next day delivery!) so I decided to call and find out what was going on. Mr Shop explained that I should check my order confirmation and read the fine print:

All Items are subject to availability. Generally, if an item is showing on our website then the item is available to order. However, during busy periods we may be in a position where we cannot supply an item or there may be an unexpected delay in despatch. If this is the case, we will let you know as soon as possible.

That’s in the fine print after I placed my order! In my opinion, both as a consumer and an e-commerce developer if this is the case you either make the item unavailable to purchase or prominently display “Back order” and an estimated despatch date. I don’t consider having to call 4 days after a no-show delivery to find out the same as “if this is the case, we will let you know as soon as possible.”

Mr Shop’s defence was “other companies don’t tell you an item isn’t in stock” I’m sorry Mr Shop but they do…and if they can’t fulfill my order on the terms that I was paying for they’d at the very least give me a courtesy call or an email. So hey, guess what I did…I just cancelled my order and gave my custom to another company.

This month our ecommerce clients are flat out with orders and we’ve advised them to use the busy Christmas period to showcase their excellent customer service and their unique selling points. Check out who are offering free Christmas gift wrap and cards, and who are giving away a free item at the checkout.

 Tips to improve your online customer service:

  1. Treat your customers as if they were walking into your shop!
  2. Be polite, friendly and give them as much information they need. A friendly tone in an email is always refreshing
  3. If you can’t fulfill an order – don’t take the money in the first place!
  4. Inform your customers immediately of any delays, or order problems.
  5. Communicate with customers at all times both before delivery and as part of your aftercare service.

Part of our ecommerce conversion optimisation service is ensuring that these things are delivered through the site, with all the correct customer services procedures in place so your customers, like I was this week, aren’t left disappointed with an impersonal service and poor customer experience that is too often found online.

If you’re a retailer wanting to improve your online customer service or would like a review of your process, drop me a line here or give me a call at our Birmingham office on 0121 371 9224.

Categorised in: Blog