July 26, 2000
It's All About Customer Service
Good online customer service equals more online sales
Have you ever wondered why people flock to Amazon.com to buy books online when other sites offer lower prices? It's the same reason why Amazon has a customer return rate near 75%; it has great customer service.
One of Amazon's biggest strengths is that its customer service representatives respond to all customer e-mail. True, they may use one of many generic response letters, but customers can't usually tell the difference. Response is a powerful thing; even if a customer is upset, he or she is more likely to return if the store addresses the issue.
Good customer service results in loyal customers. This is especially important to jewelers because people are more hesitant to buy luxury goods online due to the financial risk involved. Potential customers need to be wined and dined. Responding to e-mail complaints or questions, providing FAQs or education guides, offering a toll-free number for a more human touch and providing information about returns, shipping and insurance are all extremely important to the customer. Remember, if customers can't find the information they want, they'll go somewhere else.
Making your online store customer-friendly is necessary and can be as simple as making your site easy to navigate and compatible with all computer platforms and older computers (do you really think a customer would go out of his or her way to download a new browser or use a different computer to view your site when other stores are a simple click away?). Other customer-friendly features include having large product images so customers can see exactly what the product looks like, providing detailed product descriptions, offering the option to browse through products by category or search and adding in helpful extras like gift guides or fashion trend reports. Customers really want to be informed about the product they wish to purchase. A customer looking for a piece of jewelry will only be frustrated if all you offer is a small image and short description.
If you still doubt the need to bend over backwards to make each customer happy, consider these statistics from Datamonitor, a market analysis firm:
Online retailers must take customer satisfaction seriously and realize online selling is different from in-store selling. To make online sales, jewelers must compensate for a customer's inability to try jewelry on and ask a salesman for help when shopping on the Web.
- Poor customer service cost online retailers a combined $6.1 billion in sales last year.
- If better customer service had been provided, 7.8% of abandoned online transactions could have been salvaged last year.
- The average company could have improved its online sales figures by 35% last year if it had provided better customer service.
- by Julia M. Duncan