As part of our series on starting your own business, Sage Business Expert Darren Bull looks at how customer service forms a crucial part of your business strategy and how you can improve your interaction with your customers.
I’ve noticed that of all our e-commerce clients, those that are most successful are totally and completely passionate about what it is they are selling. For example, LessBounce, a sports bra e-commerce website, is run by Selaine Saxby, a fitness instructor and dedicated sportswoman. She lives and breathes the lifestyle of her brand, which creates the reason for her business’ existence.
Similarly Hingstons, a website selling items that help you home-make and home-grow products is run by John, a farmer from the South. They are both so passionate about their businesses, that this comes through in their website and in the knowledge and advice they provide to their clients. If you love what you are selling, your passion will certainly reach and inspire your potential customers.
Arguably, more important than any other aspect of your e-commerce business is your reputation. Outsourcing the things that someone else can probably do better than you, will free up your time to focus on what’s really important; customer service and products.
A great product range will capture people’s attention and, coupled with fantastic customer service, will mean that price will become a far less important part of the buying decision. Learn from your early customers – engage and interact with them and find out why they bought from you and not someone else. Make sure you are committed to the best customer service you are able to deliver, and if you are not good at customer service, find someone that is and get them involved in your business. Some of the most important areas of service to focus on are:
- Fix something quickly and at your expense when something goes wrong
- Use a good carrier – it will save you money in the long run
- Use clear pricing – no hidden costs
- Operate a good returns policy – the bare minimum isn’t considered acceptable anymore
- Deliver on your promises – always
- Collect customer reviews – the good ones boost your reputation, the bad ones give you a chance to demonstrate your commitment to customer service
Build the brand
You may not be Versace or M&S, but from day one, you are building a brand. Make sure you are accessible and clearly communicate the fact. Be approachable, welcome feedback and comments, and have a voice. It may only be your voice at the start, but it’s important that your e-commerce business isn’t a faceless entity. Think of some of the most successful retailers like Lush and Innocent for example – they ooze personality and charm.
Darren Bull founded Metakinetic in 2005, following a successful career running one of the country’s largest online retail teams. An expert in e-commerce, Darren consults with a wide range of Metakinetic’s clients on varying retail challenges, from conversion rate optimisation through to channel strategy. Darren is also central to the development of Metakinetic’s e-commerce solution, MetaCommerce.