3 Easy Ways to Avoid an Online Customer Service Disaster
Over the past month, the QLP Blog Squad has had our fair share of online customer service disasters. I spent over 2 hours on EA Games live chat trying to resolve a mistake, Jill had a flower delivery website clear out all of her information because of “inactivity,” and Jeff…well, you’ve read about many of Jeff’s customer service experiences.
Since many of us have come from retail backgrounds, we’re usually pretty lenient about gaps in our shopping experiences (e.g. I’ll never argue over a $0.05 price difference). But some companies have pushed too many buttons. The most obnoxious part is that a handful of frustrating experiences could’ve been completely avoided if the companies had just done a few simple things. Based on our collective experiences, here are ridiculously easy ways to avoid a customer service fiasco.
Don’t promise something that you can’t deliver.
Who cares if I promised next day shipping? I have to make my tape fort now!
I’ve been back and forth with a novelty items company for months now. We’ll call them “Company B.” Company B has a lot of issues with their business model, but mostly, they never do what they claim they’ll do. First of all, when ordering my collection of ornaments, it was indicated to me that Company B would send me an e-mail each time they sent out a part of my collection.
As you can guess, I never got these e-mails, just random charges on my credit card. When I e-mailed Company B’s customer service, their ping back said that they would respond to all e-mails within 24 hours. I received a reply in 72 hours.
Takeaway: Confirmation e-mails are key. They’re easy to set up, easy to send, and your customers will get an instant sense of ease. Also, unless you are 100% sure that you can reply to someone in an allotted time period, don’t guarantee it. I would’ve been content if Company B stated that they would reply to be “in a timely manner.” Nobody will complain if you deliver more or faster than promised.
Don’t try to sell to angry customers.
I know you're mad that I sent your order of high-end napkins into the fires of Mount Doom...but how about some acrylics?!
Fellow blogger Amy has been in an e-mail war with an Avon-esque company that we shall call “Company A.” Amy ordered something from Company A about a month ago, and received an e-mail saying to expect her order in 5-7 business days. 12 business days later, Amy still hadn’t received her order.
She e-mailed them, and somewhere within the back and forth, they tacked on a reminder to check out their website for new and exciting products. Not in an e-mail signature, in the actual body of an e-mail. Even though Amy has finally been united with her purchase, she is never ordering from Company A again.
Takeaway: One of the goals of customer service is to deal with complaints fairly and quickly so that you can salvage a lifelong buyer. However, advertising another product or sale within your customer service e-mail is just throwing fuel on the fire. If your customer is currently fed up with your company, asking them to purchase something else can lose their business for life.
Don’t hide or exclude important information.
Tra la la, I can't hear you asking for easy to read information!
Company B doesn’t list any of their “fine print” stipulations about subscription collections on their product pages, front page, or in their FAQs section. Company A asked Amy for her order number without ever designating which of the multitude of numbers was her order number.
Jen had a rough time with an online costume shop that I’ll call “Company C.” After a series of frustrating attempts to buy a custom costume, the company finally processed her order. After waiting two weeks for production, Jen went to track her dress. However, the tracking number she received was not found and was never processed. Since this was a time sensitive order, Company C told her that they will rush the order so she can get her dress in time.
Long story short, due to UPS and Company C, Jen didn’t get her dress on time. A working tracking number would’ve shown that the package was delivered, and she only needed to go to her apartment complex’s office to find her order.
Takeway: Take the extra time to check and double check that all order information is presented clearly and accurately. Make sure that tracking numbers and links are updated and working. What will take an extra few minutes now could save you hours of customer service headaches later.
Customer service fiascos will never be 100% avoidable, but you’ll definitely see a decrease of complaints if you follow these simple suggestions. If you make it a painless process for the customer, they’ll be much more likely to patronize your company again.
Consumers, have you had any customer service disasters that could’ve been easily avoided? Companies, have you made any changes to your order processing or customer service that have helped you avoid conflicts?