A young friend of mine launched an Etsy business this month. I watched from a distance as she carefully photographed and listed her products. She celebrated her first sales…and then came hot on the heels of those first transactions, her very first return.
She was devastated. She took to social media to share her disgust with the person who didn’t read her listing. The customer thought they were purchasing one type of item, when in fact she did not sell that item.
I don’t know what the final outcome was of that transaction, but knowing my honest young friend, I suspected she eventually refunded the customer’s money and moved on. However, a few things stood out for me in the story, and I thought I’d take a moment to share my perspective on customer service, particularly in an ecommerce or retail environment.
(A note from me first: I worked in retail, in the trenches so to speak, for two years. I ran a successful ecommerce business for over a decade. I managed marketing for an upscale retail store. I have a peculiar love of retail. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s my thing. What can I say?)
- The customer may not always be right, but should always be treated as if THEY believe they are right. In other words, you may have done nothing wrong. You may have provided the exact service they requested. You may have listed the product clearly on your Etsy store. But if they are unhappy, they are unhappy. That is the fact you must deal with – their unhappiness. Try to make them happy, even if they are not right.
- Issuing returns should be rare. If you find you are constantly issuing returns, it’s time to check your marketing. There’s a gap somewhere between customer expectations and what you are offering.
- NEVER take your frustrations out on social media. The second you start posting about your customers in any way, the second someone, somewhere, is going to read those comments. I don’t care if you set your privacy status to super-duper lock down mode. Word will get out that you talk trash about customers, and they won’t shop with you anymore. Don’t do it. Just walk away from your computer before you share something you’ll regret.
- You know the old chestnut about how you get 80% of your business from 20% of your customers? It’s pretty accurate. If your customers aren’t repeat customers because what you sell isn’t conducive to repeat business, they tell others about their experience, and that brings more business to you. Be always on your guard against poor customer service. It can kill your business faster than you think.
Good customer service is often what sets apart similar products. People choose to do business with companies that treat them like valued customers, not like an annoyance. If you have any unhappy customer, accept graciously their feedback, take what you can and leave the rest.