Well if there’s a topic to get us all heated under the collar it’s got to be this one?!
Involved in internet marketing or not, EVERYONE has a few terrible customer service stories.
But hopefully some good experiences too!
I could go one about my own experiences as a customer all day (I really could) but I’m not sure how helpful that would be for you.
So instead, let me share with you my 3 part simple approach for providing customer service as part of your web business.
1. Dedicated Email Address/ Support Desk
You could use a GMail or Hotmail account but far better to set up a email@example.com address.
Not only is this more professional for your customers, it will also help you filter your emails when they arrive. For example, I have all the messages to my various support emails go into dedicated folders.
Another solution is to use helpdesk software such as Hesk (free) or Kayako. Although I know I’ll probably have to end up using some at some point I prefer email as this gives the customer a more personalized service (in my opinion).
If you have any kind of business you’ll know that the same questions are asked time and time again. Answering them individually can be a real slog and a big waste of your precious time.
To avoid this you can handle FAQs by doing 2 things:
a) Template Emails
I find these a massive help for more simple admin issues like difficulties logging in, lost passwords, etc. They can also be helpful in dealing with affiliates as well not just customers.
However, it’s crucial to remember that you should always personalize your template emails to the person you are responding to and this includes addressing them properly, adding/removing sentences and so on.
There’s nothing worse than receiving a generic, seemingly automated response to a specific question!
b) FAQ Videos/Guides
For repeated questions over time I create either FAQ sections in my product download areas or even tutorial videos as well.
It might seem like a bit of work at the time but creating FAQs really delivers passive rewards over time. In fact, I think even found out about this idea originally from The 4-Hour Work Week!
3. Nightmare Customers
Over the years I’ve worked in a number of client facing roles: Guitar teacher, filling station attendant, helpdesk representative and in McDonalds.
Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter whether you are running a lemonade stand or an online business, you WILL have problem customers from time to time.
Of course, sometimes customers have a genuine grievance – maybe you messed up. In these cases, and also when any customer isn’t as happy as they could be, I’ll always try to correct that in any way I can.
However, there are some people who:
- Never say please or thank you
- Abusive (or bordering on) in their emails
- Never grateful for any offers you make to help them
- Just generally mess you around
In my different niches I’ve probably sold to well over 5,000 customers since I started in 2010 and I’ve experienced these extreme cases maybe around 5-6 times.
So as a percentage it is small but when it happens to you (if it hasn’t already), you WILL remember it, trust me!
It doesn’t matter how good your product is, how you offer to help, how timely and genuine your responses are you can never do any good with these kinds of people. So it’s crucial you don’t get sucked into a pointless “vortex of doom” with these guys…
What I do myself and recommend is:
i) First try to help and if that doesn’t work then…
ii) Refund them, whether they asked for this or not
iii) Delete them from your subscriber list
iv) Email them politely and inform them of this, ask them not to do business with you again and wish them well for the future
Never, ever, ever, however big the temptation is, ever, lose your temper in your email.
Don’t even be mildly sarcastic! It might feel good to retaliate at the time but it’s never a sensible idea, regardless of the circumstances.
Instead just be firm and polite.
Any remember, their rudeness might be directed at you but to be honest yesterday it was probably someone else either online or some poor assistant in the supermarket. And tomorrow it’ll be another person.
So as hard as it sounds, don’t take it personally!
Instead, just keep overdelivering with content and products and your best to look after your customer base.
Any juicy customer experience stories you would like to share? Either providing as the provider or the customer? Would love to hear your thoughts below…. 😉
Helpful tips there, as always. By the way, I loved your opening sentence, ie “heated uder the collar.” It was most fitting, considering your radiator ordeal.
Haha, thanks John!
The plumber has just left as I type. I gave him a bit extra as he agreed to take some extra junk to the scrap yard for me 😉
Cheers – Rob.
I am 66 years old , I have found over the years people just do not know what maners are, I have also found you do not do anything for any one, A friend of mine was out of work, I let him work with me on my window cleaning round, behind my back he went and told my customers I had retired and he was there new window cleaner, people are in for what they can get for there selves, people of my age group all say the same thing, there is no pride, no maners, no respet today, the other day I opened the door an Indian laddy, I throught she was going to pass out, Any way I trust you Rob, Thank you N White
I guess we’ve all been ripped off in the past but I try not to get too cynical. I trust people by default but make sure I don’t leave myself to exposed if I can. If someone takes advantage, they get backlisted for sure!
Cheers – Rob.
good tips as usual Rob, but politeness should be with us always not only inresponding to rudeness e-mails.
Always treat your customer or friend as you would like to be treated.
I will adapt this tips to my blog http://erwinmentel.com sustomers.
And see you on top.
Wise words and thank you for your comment 🙂
Cheers – Rob.
Good points as always. It is unlikely to actually be an omission or problem on the marketers part in the first place. That’s not to say that all internet marketers are without fault! It is more likely as you say that these people are just looking to find fault and it happens to be your turn today. It could be the supermarket assistant tomorrow. If they picked on their boss in the same way they might get a rude awakening!
Great to see you here as always 🙂
In a some cases the marketers are to blame I think which is why I would advise always sending an email before people buy – just to test that customer support! You make a great point there, thankfully those people are few and far between – but you do need to know how to deal with them in the right way.
There is nothing but NOTHING worse than “help tickets” issued through automated help desks.
There is one, who I will not name, u.k. prominent operator who does this.
I have never had a reply in less than 2 days, my last has had no reply (other than being provided a ticket No) but I have had 2 requests for feedback on the reply I got. (And No, the reply is not in my spam file)
Needless to say, I have opted out
And dear Chris Farrell – another with whom I have spent money will not get anymore of mine!
A year or so ago he sent an e.mail saying how his wife was unwell and a UK meeting to which I and many others were lined up for was to be put off.
So I sent a “get well” message – to which I had an automated response instructing me to follow the ticket procedure as otherwise my e.mails would not be read. Goodbye Mr Farrell – another customer lost.
If you get to the point – which with a huge volume is bound to happen – and you or an assistant cannot immediately handle as you do now in an exemplary manner – at least call it a “reference” and make it look personal, rather than picking a ticket at the deli counter and waiting for your name to be called!
By and large the “abusers” on the net are cowards who would not dare to make the comments and demands offline – the only good thing is that because it is not face to face it is easier to be dispassionate. But unfortunately it is also easy to perpetuate correspondence which means they win.
Your advice to simply cut them off and forget about it and get on with the next good thing is absolutely correct.
And we should always try to pass on our thanks to people too. It does make the recipient feel good
Thank you Rob!!
Yes, I know that’s hate by a lot of people which is why I’ve tried to avoid it. Another 2 things I dislike are automated phone calls and call routing systems when you phone up a helpdesk.
Don’t be too hard on Chris though (although I know what you are saying), he’s a good guy really (I’ve met him twice in the UK and US) and for beginners his content is pretty solid. If he tried to answer all of his queries I’m sure he wouldn’t get anything done. Hence the outsourcing and helpdesk software.
Thanks for your comments, it’s always great to hear from you here on the blog 🙂
Cheers – Rob.
Whether you’re a fan or not of Robert Kiyosaki, he does reveal a few ‘pearls of wisdom’ one of which I’ve always found true is:
“A third of the people will like you, a third of the people will dislike you and the remaining third are indifferent either way”.
If you can keep this ratio in mind it can stop you making the fatal error of ‘trying to please everyone’ – you can’t and you won’t.
Whilst it’s easy to press the delete button on the verbal abusers you also need to make sure you don’t waste your time pandering to the ‘polite moaners’ either.
They are the ‘silent assassins’ who can eat up your time without you knowing it 🙂
“polite moaners” – a nice way of putting it too Ian! I don’t seem to have too many of them but you are right. Personally, I’d ideally like to help EVERYONE but with so many people wanting a chunk of your time you owe it to yourself and the serious customers you have to direct your focus on the areas which will get the most results for all concerned.
Cheers – Rob.