Good customer service is a prerequisite for any ecommerce website that wants to be successful. It strengthens customer loyalty and retention in the future; it basically keeps them from wandering off to your competitors and purchasing from them. It’s a digital spin on positive word of mouth! If a customer has a bad experience shopping with a site, they have the enormous forum of the digital world in which to voice their annoyance and discontent.
Bad news travels fast online and a poor customer experience can result in your company being lambasted in a very public forum. Think how well your company can do with a strong SEO strategy and where it can land in the Google, Yahoo and Bing search results; now imagine that a bad customer review lands up on the rankings above or below your result. Online shoppers make up their minds very quickly and they are just looking for a reason not to buy your products.
David versus Goliath
In my previous blog, I wrote about the problems I’d had dealing with a small business and the abysmal customer service I’d received. It’s not just small businesses committing these infractions against their customers; big businesses are doing it too. Some small companies seem to think that they don’t have to provide a good customer service because of their size. Some big companies think that they’re above responsibility to their customers because they have survived this long.
In the end, both have a responsibility to do their best to offer customers excellent customer service. Strong customer service is a huge asset for businesses because it – like search engine marketing or SEO initiatives – can help to spread positive word about the business. Positive word will bring customers back time after time and as they tell their friends about it, the positive word of mouth will bring more people to the site.
Sweet Apples and Sour Lemons
I’m a bit of a computer game nerd. I had wanted updates for a game on my Mac – I won’t tell you what it is for fear of undermining my credibility. (Just kidding, but I’m still not saying.) I had two options: to buy directly from the Apple App Store or buy direct from the game’s company in question. I opted to go for the non-Apple company and I was appropriately punished for my choice.
I purchased the updates and breezed through the checkout process with ease. After purchasing, I found that the updates weren’t actually compatible at all (although this was never displayed on the website). When I emailed them (annoyingly there was no telephone number) to see about a refund, they told me that that wouldn’t be possible. They then referred me to an obscure section of their terms and conditions. They then reiterated the resolute and unwavering NO and told me that they would not offer me a refund. The service I received was so brutally blunt that I can honestly say that I will never buy from them again. Instead of offering a good service and a sympathetic ear, they were rude and trying everything they could to usher me away.
After I’d come to terms with my own anger, I went to the online Apple App Store with my tail tucked between my legs. As usual with all my Apple computer, music and movie purchases Apple gave me excellent customer service. The whole process was a breeze and they gave me advice from a place of knowledge and a foundation of strong, attentive customer service. In the end, I’ll sing Apple’s praises until I’m blue in the face and I will never go to the other company again. Ever. And my friends and family will never use them again. Ever.