I have been thinking a little bit about customer service lately. I mean, I am always sort of thinking about it. It’s a huge part of every business so I just wanted to take some time to explain what I do when I work with customers and maybe it will give you some ideas or maybe you can give me more ideas. When I was reading The E-Myth Revisited this summer, it said to always keep your customer in the forefront of your mind. Every decision you make should be thought of in how it will effect the customer. I think that helped me really focus more on the what the customer wants, not just what I think will sell. I was also watching Oprah the other day when she had young millionaires on. She interviewed the young man that started and runs Zappos. Aside from being an overall very impressive and down to earth person, he said that his company was not a shoe company, but a customer service company. He was so frustrated with bad customer service out in the world that he started his own company. So here is my list of things I do to try and make customers happy:
1. Listen to what they want: Customers are pretty good at telling you what they want, we’re just not always that good at listening. Whenever a customer asks me to come up with a product especially for them, I always end up making it for my shop, knowing that they are not the only ones. These products have outsold all the ones I came up with myself. Also, when I work on a custom design, I always try to do exactly what the customer says. I may not think the colors they picked work together, but that’s not my call. It is my job to make them work in the design they want.
2. Be personal but efficient: Every customer wants to feel as though they are special to you. And really, they are, because without them, there would be no business. The problem comes when you have to balance large volumes of orders with the challenge of making each one personal. You still want to be able to deliver a consistent product in a reasonable amount of time. To achieve this, I am personal where I can be and I set up systems to take care of the rest. (Another E-Myth lesson: let systems runs your business) So I’ll just take you through processing an order (you didn’t ask, but hopefully it will be helpful):
- An order (or four) is received in my email inbox along with payment. I enter all the information into a program called Bento which allows you to customize how you organize your information and files. I check to see of they are a returning customer. This is where I have developed 2 slightly different systems. I immediately layout a proof of the order and send a confirmation email with the proof attached. This is all system based. But the email I send is friendly and I always address the customer personally. If you are a retuning customer, I welcome you back and skip the introductory stuff.
- Once the customer and I have finalized the proof, I will mark that on their order and send them an email stating when the order will ship. I have a page for each customer and what they have purchased.
- Once I have about 10 or so orders to process, I sit down and start printing. Bento allows me to see a checklist of the orders I have completed and which ones I have not. I merely go through the orders one by one and print. While the order is printing, I fill out the shipping envelope with their address and I write my thank you note. **A personal thank you note is no place to try and save time** I do have a formula for my notes, but I have a place for personalization. The following is an example:
- Sarah, Thank you so much for the order! At Avie Designs, we strive to bring people together. I truly hope that these calling cards help Lisa meet and connect with new friends. Thanks again and keep in touch. (little drawing of heart) Avie
- So the letter is a formula I always use, I just trade out the names and items. It’s a simple trick, but has a big pay off. Of course, if you are a returning customer, I would say something like “Sarah, Thanks again! I am so glad that you were pleased enough with your labels to return. I truly hope you enjoy these just as much. Please keep in touch. If this is their 3rd or 4th time, I thank them for their continued support in my business, or I mention something personal that I have learned about them through email like “I hope your move goes well” or “I just know your sister will love these.”
- Then, I clip my printout, envelope, packaging and thank you note together and put in my “ship on Friday” folder. Then I go back once they are all done and cut and package them all.
- Lastly, I fill out my feedback on etsy.
3. Organize your work space: Quickness is a large part of customer service. When you complete something quicker than your customer expects, they think that you are either on top of things or that they are your only customer. Neither of which is really a bad thing. I get SO many compliements and thank yous for being so prompt. I have a place for all my shipping supplies that I ready before I try and process my orders. I have a place for all my papers and ink cartridges for when I run out.
4. Be nice: I personally think that niceness goes a super long way in any situation. I am a firm believer in the old saying “You can get more bees with honey than with vinegar” But it is especially true in customer service. Some may say it’s the basis. I will admit that there have been times when I have had a difficult customer (very far and few), but I treat them with the same kindness and respect I treat my very favorites (you know who you are).
5. Remember that they are your business: Without customers, you would have no business. Just try and be thankful for each and every one even if you don’t really want to. I have heard many times over that it is much cheaper to keep a customer than create a new relationship. That is why you should work extra hard pleasing the ones you have.
**I hope this helps and does not come off as bragging. Please leave tips on what you think is great customer service.**