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cusomer-serviceWhen you’re dealing with customers face to face, it’s easy to identify what constitutes good service. But if you’re starting an online business, you’ll quickly realize it’s harder to quantify what actions will ensure your customers get the best possible service from you and your staff. This article gives five tips for a good foundation of customer service from your online business.

Be Human

Even though you’re representing a company or organization and not simply yourself, show that the business is run by people who care — show compassion, kindness and empathy in your dealings with the public. There are many examples of companies that have done just that and have gained their customers’ respect and loyalty.

Personalizing your communication is a good way to start. For example, tuck handwritten thank-you’s or “Checked by X” notes into post office mailers before sending, have live chat available on your website or post videos or photos of staff on your social media profiles. When customers interact with an online business they know is staffed by real people — and they know those people’s names — they’re more likely to feel like they are in good hands.

Research instances of amazing customer service from online retailer Zappos. In one famous story, a woman called to return a pair of boots that had been meant for her husband, who had since died. Not only did the company accept the return, but they sent the widow flowers.

Follow Up on Feedback

Don’t let your customers who send you feedback — positive or negative — think they’re speaking to a robot. Acknowledge any feedback you get, even if it’s scathing, in a polite and professional tone. Then, when you act on the suggestions given, let your customers know their comments helped you, were listened to and have been addressed. Send thank-you’s to customers who let you know about accidental gaffes (for example, typos on your website or blog). Don’t be shy about acknowledging these things on your social media feeds as well.

Remember the Words “Thank You”

Are you grateful for your customers? Of course you are! They’re the ones who allow you to stay in business. But don’t just feel grateful, show it. Let your customers, clients and suppliers know you appreciate their business, feedback and cooperation. Look at ways to create customer appreciation events or campaigns that will promote your business and demonstrate your gratitude to your customer base.

Have a Good FAQ Page

One of the best things you can do for your customers is save their time and energy. Make things easy for them, and they’ll remember that and return to you when they need your products or services. If you’re an online business, one of the most important things you can do to save your customers’ time is to have a well-curated, comprehensive page of frequently asked questions on your website. Ask your Web developer to make it easy to search.

Maintain Unflaggingly Polite Communications

Let politeness be your guide when it comes to communicating with your customers. You don’t have to be needlessly formal, just respectful and businesslike with a hint of your personality shining through. Even after you have been in contact with a customer for numerous exchanges, don’t fall into a habit of skipping salutations as you may with a close friend. Each email should start with “Dear …” and their name, and end with an appropriate tag such as “regards.” You should also let customers know of other ways they can contact you, such as telephone numbers or live chat options.

If you choose to do a live chat with a customer, don’t forget that standard rules of politeness also apply here. In fact, it may help you to be more polite on a live chat than you would be in person for two reasons First, if your customer is requesting a live chat session, he must have an urgent issue to discuss with you and may be sensitive to any perceived lack of etiquette. And second, it’s likely he is a new customer or potential customer and you want to make a good first impression.


About the Author: When Belinda Smith started her first online business, he had no idea that the experience would end up being more useful to her than the profits from her sales.

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