Let me quote an incident I was a victim of. Sometime ago, I had ordered for a lovely ‘Write on me Pot’ in the shape of a cup and saucer for my mom, as a gift on Mother’s day. I knew she would love it and had ordered it well in advance. However, when the package arrived, I was utterly disappointed to see that the product was in pieces quickly wrote back to the online store (itshandmade.in) where I had ordered it and attached a picture of the broken pot on their Facebook page. Although the reason for the breakage was the packaging and shipping, the store promised to replace my purchase and assured me they would send another piece at the earliest.
When the second piece arrived I was devastated to see that it was broken too! This time I adorned the avatar of the disgruntled customer and vented out my frustration by ranting on their FB page. Again the online store responded quickly, apologised for what had happened and said they would take care of it. The final package arrived, this time intact and with a lovely note and a little gift from the shipper. Only then did I realise, that it was not the online store’s issue at all and it was the retailer (Poppadum Art) who had to replace my product and ensure good and safe packaging.
So irrespective of whose mistake it was the online store had managed the situation so well without posing a lame excuse or playing the blame game on the retailer or the logistics company. All this so that I did not feel cheated. And till date, my view about itshandmade.in has remained extremely positive and I love my ‘Write on me Pot!’
There are a zillion articles on Customer Satisfaction; but ecommerce companies sometimes fail to realise who is responsible in satisfying customers. Is it the brands? Is it the customer service teams? Is it the logistic service providers?
Over a casual conversation, the General Manager of a service provider app company in Bangalore once told me “All you need to do is be human about mistakes. Mistakes happen. Accept them and apologize. And if this is done with a human touch and not a standard robotic reply, customers forgive you.”
Marketplaces and online stores should give power to customer service agents to react aptly when customers call with problems. Right now, they are given standard scripted replies and have to follow that. Instead, if they can take a call on what to do, the service provided will be more personal as well as useful to users.
A customer does not know how the backend of your business works, for him he has one touch point where he made a purchase, so your ecommerce store is the only one responsible to ensure his satisfaction. He will not appreciate it if you ask him to call on the customer care number in case his purchase is damaged or call the exchange department for an exchange transaction. All he cares is for someone to sort out his issue.
So even if you have dedicated people out there to solve different issues, it is important to respond to your customer and you as an ecommerce store take the effort to connect him to the right person to sort out the issue.
Amazon has set good examples when it comes to customer service and resolving customer problems. The screenshot below has a gist of one of the Amazon Live chat services to solve customer problems. It is admirable to see the level of personalisation and human-ness in the responses.
“I once had a bad experience with late delivery of a product on Flipkart. I had not received my order for more than 10 days and their status did not read so. Even though the delivery was through a direct vendor, the only way I could express my displeasure was on calls and mails to Flipkart. After many email exchanges and harsh warnings of order cancellations; my product arrived.” says Arun, a keen online shopper. When asked if he would go back and shop on Flipkart after this incident he says “We don’t have much of an option. But I really hope they figure out a way to ensure we go back to them by choice and not because of monopoly. They could have given me a discount voucher on my next purchase but did not do so. It becomes their responsibility when such mistakes happen, because when things are smooth they are the ones who take all the credit!”
The latest cases of the Mi3 flash sales on Flipkart has caused a lot of uproar among dissatisfied customers, who either couldn’t manage to get their hands on one, or landed with a faulty piece. In no case is it Flipkart’s mistake, yet the comments that flood Social Media sites don’t spare the ecommerce giant.
Sites like Flipkart are always under the radar for customers to backlash. It is not easy to deal with but it comes with the kind of business they have opted to be part of. If you are a middle man, you will need to deal with antagonism on either side of their business- from your customers and your vendors.
eBay has found a way around this. Some eBay sellers send personal emails to customers after they place an order, regarding the dispatch details and even a contact number/id for any complaints or support. There are times when they even request customers not to post their issues on eBay’s social network! Sellers are themselves careful and may be threatened of being blacklisted if customer complaints increase due to their negligence. For all of us who have been taught the importance of e-mail communication in the online era, these guys are actually using it to their benefit.
A lovely article on Dealing with Unhappy Customers outlines 7 steps to follow when dealing with difficult customers.
Step 1: Adjust your Mindset
Step 2: Listen Actively
Step 3: Repeat their Concerns
Step 4: Be Empathetic & Apologize
Step 5: Present a Solution
Step 6: Take Action and Follow-up
Step 7: Use the Feedback
Following the above steps to the word will help you deal with customers and actually turn challenges into opportunities for your business. It is important to put a smile on a customer’s face after you’ve screwed up. It is solving a customer’s problem or complaint and sending him out the door feeling as if he’s just done business with the greatest company on earth; that separates successful customer service driven organisations from the rest of the pack. It is not rocket science! An easy way out is to get hold of John Tschohl’s book- Loyal for Life– an easy read on how to take unhappy customers from hell to heaven in 60 seconds or less!!