Unlike face-to-face shopping, where customers can touch and inspect goods before making a purchase, online customers must rely completely on your ability to deliver exactly what they ordered. And there's nothing more frustrating for consumers than going through the process of ordering a product online, awaiting its arrival, and then discovering that the product they received is defective in some way.
Create a Simple, Logical Order-Checking Methodology
The old publishing adage "get it first and get it right, but first get it right" certainly applies to e-commerce. Buyers want to receive exactly what they ordered as quickly as possible. Make that happen, and you're well on your way to high customer satisfaction and lots of repeat business. Creating a simple, logical system to check and double-check each order as it passes through the fulfillment center will help reduce costly mistakes and increase customer service ratings. And, by combining your inventory tracking with procedures to double-check orders, you'll ultimately save on labor costs too.
Develop a Return and/or Exchange Policy
Returns are a headache for vendors and an inconvenience for consumers. However, they do happen, so make your return and exchange processes as simple as possible. Posting a returns policy in a can't-miss location on your site helps ensure that customers understand the refund and exchange rules before they make a purchase. It also provides clear instructions for customers to follow when returns are necessary.
Track Returns by Product Line to Determine Problem Areas
You will get returns. Welcome them. They provide an opportunity to fine-tune your sales and delivery machine, turning a one-time customer into a loyal repeat customer. Of course, not all returns will be caused by an error on your end; some can be attributed to a customer's change of mind, a manufacturer defect, or something else over which you have no control. If the problem can be traced to your process, fix it. If it can't, you must still resolve it to your customer's satisfaction.
Address Quality Issues on a Case-by-Case Basis
All items returned for alleged defects in quality must be carefully examined to determine both the cause of the problem and a customer-pleasing remedy. For starters, be sure to offer customers a quick and easy process for explaining the problem. The key to benefiting from this process is fully understanding the reason(s) for the return and then taking the appropriate steps to address it from the perspective of both your customer and your company's internal processes.
Assure Customers You Will Fix Any Problems
"This will be fixed" is the mantra. This will be fixed because we care about you, our customer. Remember to always acknowledge receipt of a customer complaint as soon as possible. Customer-focused companies make each dissatisfied customer feel that he or she has been a true agent of change, spurring the company to make improvements, not merely treat symptoms.
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