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Excellent Customer Service:A Must In Today's Business Climate

No matter what business you're in, excellent customer service is important. And nowhere is it more important than in the online retail business. In fact, it is the retail business in general that has led the way in setting the standard for excellent customer service. With all the competition in today's business world, you simply must be responsive to every visitor to your shop.

When offering a product online, remember that you're offering a product that people cannot see in person, or touch. In most cases, there is no face-to-face or even telephone contact. Thus, occasionally you will have a buyer who wants to return an item, or who needs assistance while visiting your shop. You must take good care of them. If you don't, they will turn elsewhere.

So what is excellent customer service? Here are a few guidelines that will help you to provide the best customer service:

1. Treat buyers in the same manner in which you would want to be treated:
Should you receive a complaint from a customer, begin by putting yourself in their shoes to try to see the problem as though it were your own. Next, be sure that your responses to buyer questions are pleasant and courteous. Such statements as "We appreciate your patronage" or "Thank you so much for your inquiry" are very easy to write, and go a long way towards making the customer feel appreciated. Be sure to re-read your correspondence before sending it, to be sure it is written so as to be well-received.

If you have a customer who is unhappy, always offer a settlement, a compromise, a goodwill gesture, or some options. Don't just dig in your heels, claiming that you're right and they're wrong.

2. Be sure to reply to all purchase orders, questions and offers in a timely manner:
We highly recommend responding to inquiries within 24 hours. If you'll be out of town or away from the computer for longer than a couple of days, we recommend you put your shop in Vacation Mode, which allows you to tell visitors how long you'll be gone, and when they may expect to hear from you. To put your shop in Vacation Mode, go to Edit Shop Info in your shop, and choose Vacation On/Off near the top. You can choose a message that lets visitors know you're away, and this message will replace your regular contact information while you are on vacation. If you return home earlier than expected, you can turn it off when you return. Otherwise, on the day you previously selected to indicate the end of your vacation, our software will automatically turn Vacation off for you.

3. Send follow up emails to buyers:
Stay in touch with your customer throughout the purchase and shipping process. Let them know when you have received their payment, and when you plan to ship the item. You might also let a buyer know when their check has cleared. (If you do hold checks until they clear, a good place to list this in your shop is under Other Information so buyers know this ahead of time.) Once you've shipped the item, let them know approximately when they may expect to receive it.

4. Give customers the benefit of the doubt:
Try to assume the best. For example, if you don't receive payment, take the time to check with the buyer as they may have had an unexpected circumstance arise. Always get the facts before passing judgment.

5. Honesty is the best policy:
No one is perfect – not even Ruby Lane shop owners! If you misplace an item that has been purchased, or it breaks during packing, or you forget to ship an item until a day later, whatever the situation, the truth is always best.

6. Keep all email correspondence:
Your Ruby Lane shop is a business. All businesses keep records of their transactions, so be sure to keep all emails to and from your customers, and prospective customers. Even correspondence that may seem old or unnecessary should be kept, just in case. You may choose to file older documentation in other folders, out of your Inbox. We recommend that you keep all shipping documentation, as well.

7. Use common sense:
Do what needs to be done to make a transaction happen. If a buyer's email bounces back to you as undeliverable, then pick up the phone and call the buyer if you can. Sure, it's a long distance call, but it is a common follow-up courtesy, and the cost of doing business. A little creativity can save a situation, and increase your business.