E-Commerce merchants, small and large, are making gains in offering the best customer service. My wife and I received a wonderful example earlier this week.
Gift-giving is a scared thing in my household. My wife takes it to a new level, and the recipients of her gifts – often myself and our two sons – are always amazed by her creativity and generosity.
So when Amazon shipped a Christmas gift intended for our 15-year-old son – a new mountain biking helmet – uncovered, unwrapped, for the world to see, straight from the manufacturer, we were a surprised and unhappy. Because we both work, it was he who was there to receive it when it was dropped at our home.
After a few deep breaths, we decided an e-mail conveying our displeasure to Amazon was the best course of action.
‘It’s not going to matter,’ my wife said. ‘We’ll never hear anything back.’
I was a little more optimistic, based on my experience covering e-commerce and online shopping issues. ‘Hmmm, not sure about that,’ I told her. ‘Customer support is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. I’d be surprised if Amazon didn’t reach out to us.’
Amazon’s Response: High Marks for Best Customer Service
We’ve blogged plenty about ways merchants can extend the best customer service (like Zappos) and how, because of the relatively new chargeback principles, customer support is more important than ever.
This is very evident in Amazon’s reply. Amazon contacted us via e-mail within 12 hours – not a bad response time for this time of year – and offered us three things:
- To keep, donate or dispose of the item we purchased (we’re keeping it).
- They are refunding the cost of the helmet including the shipping (it wasn’t cheap).
- With our next purchase, they’ll upgrade the shipping for free, in their words, to make up for the inconvenience it caused us (an excellent incentive – we plan to take advantage)
Amazon’s customer service did urge us to take advantage of their gift-wrapping services, which, in retrospect is an excellent idea.
Make the Customer Feel Valued
The best customer service a business can offer is vital for so many reasons. Consumers nowadays have power: they can turn to reviews websites and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustration.
Additionally, from an e-commerce standpoint, there is always the risk of chargebacks, the frequency of which can decrease with a little more customer focus.
We off three steps in achieving the best customer service experience you can give:
- Contact: By ignoring a customer issue – both positive and negative – a merchant is inviting trouble. Simple contact shows a customer they are valued.
- Apology/Acknowledgement: If the issue warrants an apology, give one. If the issue doesn’t, express appreciation for making contact.
- Solution: Again, positive or negative, have a plan of action centered around the customer returning to your store: A full refund, store credit or, similar to Amazon above, free or upgraded shipping on their next purchase.
Instabill merchant account managers pride themselves in live, one-on-one customer support. Our main telephone number – 1-800-318-2713 – goes straight to our account managers.