Continuous improvement of the overall customer experience has always been my guiding principle ever since I have decided to go full-time with my online selling gig. Perhaps, this is because I have worked in the customer service industry all my life and I really do believe in the value of customer service.
Even if my online selling business is small, I have always protected and valued my relationships with my customers right from the start and I highly suggest that you do the same regardless of the size of your business.
I’m here to share with you guys, especially to my readers who are also online sellers, some basic tips to improve the overall customer experience of your buyers.
Start Before Customers Even Contact You
Some people think that customer service starts once the customer contacts you. If you want to succeed in online selling or in any other business then you should take it a notch up and start taking care of your customers even before they contact you.
So, how do I do this?
I am in the business of selling second-hand goods and all of my merchandise is sold online. So, my online postings/listings are technically my first medium to indirectly interact with customers (both actual and prospective customers).
A customer will only contact you if they are interested to purchase your item. Keep in mind though, that even if only 1 customer contacts you for the day, it doesn’t mean that only 1 customer saw your listing.
So what I do is that I make sure that all my listings have:
1. Clear Pictures – Online shoppers don’t have any way of seeing the item until the time that they receive the item on their doorsteps. In order to help my customers make an informed decision, I always provide clear pictures showing all the important details of the merchandise.
2. Honest and Accurate Description – A picture is really worth a thousand words, but, sometimes, an online selling app does not allow you to post as many pictures as you want or need for an item.
In order to help my customers make an informed decision with their purchases, I always provide an honest and accurate description of the items that I am selling, and these include:
- Actual measurements
- Flaws and other imperfections if there are any
- Details that did not register well in pictures such as color.
3. Payment and Shipping Options – All of my posts also include payment and shipping options and shipping schedules to help my customers and myself save some time in answering frequently asked questions.
4. Set the Right Expectations – I also include some important reminders on all of my posts in order to set the right expectation for customers before they even contact me.
This is actually intended for new online shoppers because people who have been shopping for second-hand goods for quite some time already know what to expect. Some of these reminders include (but not limited to):
- Common reasons and the possibility of shipping delays
- Possibility of some minor flaws with the item
- Reiterate that the items I’m selling are second-hand goods which mean there’re signs of usage
- Customer responsibility such as checking the sizes and reading the description before they make a purchase.
5. Keep Your Stocks in Good Condition – To ensure that your customers will receive their items in good condition, you should maintain your merchandise in their optimal condition.
In my case, since I’m selling second-hand goods such as clothes, bags, and accessories, I put them in individual packaging and I clean my leather goods frequently to prevent molding and to prevent leather bags from developing some bad odor.
I also installed two electric dehumidifiers in my storage room which I run alternately to keep my items dry regardless of the weather.
I do this because most of the time, items do not get sold right away especially during pandemic times. I’d like to ensure that my items are as described.
If in case the items have been damaged (due to storage) prior to shipping, I do inform my customer ahead of time and initiate a discount/cancellation depending on the situation.
Once a customer gets interested in an item that you’re selling, they will proceed to either:
- Buy the item right away
- Haggle for a lower price/Make an offer
- Ask more information
Regardless of the customers’ reason for sending a message, I always start my response with a greeting and an expression of gratitude. And then followed by a direct response to their inquiry.
“Hi! Thank you for sending me a message, regarding your question…”
“Hi! Thank you for making a purchase.”
It would be best though to address them by their first name, however, in my experience, a lot of online selling usernames are actually not the real names of my customers.
Provide Updates Consistently
After a sale has been confirmed, the next step is usually receiving the payment. Sometimes, a customer will add a few more items and you will have to revise your invoice.
Once I have received the payment, I usually thank them and set the expectation again regarding shipping.
By this time, you should already have the customer’s name since they have provided you their shipping details.
Good morning/afternoon/evening. I hope all is good.
Thank you very much for your payment. I will send you the tracking number on or before Saturday as soon as it becomes available.
Once I have shipped the item. I will then proceed in sending them the tracking number and a picture of the package.
This is to confirm that your package has been sent to (Name of Courier) for shipping and the tracking number is (Tracking Number).
Do let me know once you have received your package.
Most customers at this point will just thank you and that would be the last conversation unless they order again or if they have any complaints with the package.
Some customers do inform me once they have received the package. I take this opportunity to solicit feedback from them. And sometimes, I also take this opportunity to inform them if I have new listings coming up.
Thank you for confirming that you have received the package. I’ll greatly appreciate it if you could provide feedback.
By the way, I will be posting new items on Saturday starting at 9 AM. It will be posted on (Name of shopping website).
Feel free to check it out. Thanks!
Exceed the Expectations
Aside from making sure that I communicate properly with all my customers. I also make sure that I over-deliver and under-promise at all times.
I know that I have mentioned this already in my past articles but I’d like to mention this again because this has helped my online store a lot.
What do I mean by over-deliver and under-promise?
After a customer pays, they are expecting two things from online sellers and these are – the tracking number on the date of shipment that you promised and of course their package or the item that they bought.
I always make sure that I ship ahead of time. If I indicated in my listing that I ship every Saturday then I will ship on or before Saturday.
And also, all packages include a freebie. And I also don’t mention that they will receive a freebie with their orders. I like surprising my customers (in a good way).
Handle Complaints/Dissatisfactions with Care
Once in a blue moon, a customer will complain about the item that they have received.
In my experience, a lot of these issues are because of the size.
Sadly, even if I already have indicated the actual measurement on posts, some people still order the wrong size.
But customers are customers.
And even though I already mentioned in all of my listings that I don’t accept returns, I do accept their returns as a one-time courtesy.
In my years of selling online, I have not actually refunded anything yet because all customers in the past had only asked for a replacement.
When dealing with dissatisfied customers, always bear in mind to keep your calm and to avoid using strong words.
The goal is to find a meeting point that is fair to both of you.
Sometimes, you might think that accepting the return is not fair to you because the customer made the mistake and you provided all the information that they needed.
However, if you think about the long-term sustainability of your business, accepting the return as a one-time courtesy might also be beneficial to you in one way or another.
I’m not saying that customers are always right because sometimes, they aren’t. Situations and responses will of course vary depending on the circumstances.
In my case, since I’m selling very affordable second-hand goods, I always ask myself, is it worth having an argument with someone I don’t know and probably will never talk to again for $5? Is it worth getting stressed and the possibility of getting negative feedback on my profile?
Online selling is an ever-changing industry and handling customer interactions is an art in itself. There are so many things that can be improved on due to the advancement of technology as years go by.
For example, in the past few years, payments are usually done via bank transfers and even remittance centers. Nowadays, due to the massive adoption of GCash, a lot of customers are opting to send their payments via their mobile wallets.
There are also more couriers now compared to when I started and the new couriers are offering a more affordable alternative compared to the most established ones such as JRS Express and LBC.
Utilizing the most cost-effective and the most cost-efficient options does improve the overall customer experience so always be on the lookout for this.
In the Philippines, a lot of people are also using crypto. Perhaps in the near future, payments can also be done using cryptocurrency. Who knows, right?
You can also improve your online selling craft by listening to your customer feedback, learning from your past mistakes, and learning from the best practices of your competitors.How to Improve Overall Customer Experience Click To Tweet
Do you have any additional tips to add? Feel free to comment down below. Thanks!