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How to Manage Customer Services in your Online Business

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 15 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Customer Services Online Business

The relationship that all businesses have with their customers must be developed and maintained. The levels of customer service that you offer in your new online business will be in direct proportion to the number of loyal customers you find return to your online business again and again.

Consumers are looking for businesses they can trust and that not only can sell them the goods or services they want to buy, but that can also offer them world-class levels of customer service as well. With thousands of other online businesses just a mouse click away, it is vital that you offer high levels of customer service within your online business from day one.

Customer Service and Online Businesses

Because your customers will reach your online business via the Internet you don’t have the physical contact a high street store has with its clients. Because of this distance, you need to work twice as hard at developing a close relationship with the consumers who come to your online business. As the Internet has developed as a retail channel, lessons have been learnt by all online businesses about how customer services should be handled. These lessons include:

Personal ContactOnline businesses have learnt that customers like the convenience of shopping online, but when they have a query or a problem they like to contact the business in person. This can be via email as long as you can reply very quickly, but most customers like to use the phone when they need to query their order, or sort out a problem. It’s therefore vitally important your online business can offer this level of customer service.

Returns and ReplacementsThe distance selling regulations state that your customers have the right to return goods if they are not satisfied with them. E-commerce enterprises have learnt that an efficient returns system is not only cost effective for them, it also promotes long-term loyalty with customers. As they know they can easily return any goods, they are more likely to shop regularly with your online business.

Fast Delivery TimesThe Internet offers customers a fast way to buy services, but when it comes to purchasing goods, the speed with which they bought the goods is expected to be matched with the speed of delivery. Some E-commerce businesses have next day delivery on all of their goods. If your online business can offer this level of delivery, it will enhance your enterprise’s reputation.

Complaints and ProblemsMany of the least successful online businesses had no management of their complaints and problems procedures. This is a fatal mistake that all E-commerce businesses have learnt from. Complaints need to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. The customers of your online business know that sometimes things go wrong. How your business handles these incidents is one of the key factors consumers use to decide which online businesses they will shop with in the future.

Educate Your StaffThe management of customer services starts with the people that will be handling your customer service queries. The more educated they are about your online business and the goods or services it sells, the better they will be able to handle customer service enquires when they come in.

Keep in TouchGood customer service isn’t just about how well your online business deals with problems and complaints. Customer service is also keeping in touch with your customers. Email has become a superb way of reaching the customer base of your online business with special offers, discounts and news about your business. Be careful though, as there is a fine line between regular contact with you customers and spamming them with email messages.

Automate your Customer Services

Over the last few years there has been a drive to automate customer services to reduce costs. Online business in particular has been keen on these systems as it could enable them to reduce the number of customer services representatives they have on staff. Customer Relationship Management or CRM systems come in a wide-range of platforms to suite every size of business. However, don’t think that a CRM system can replace all live customer services staff as they are still needed to help some customers with their enquires.

There are a number of CRM systems that you could install in your business. Some of the market leaders include:

  • Prophet 4
  • ACT!
  • Really Simple Systems
  • NetSuit CRM +
  • SugarCRM
  • vTiger

The management of your customer services is a vital component in the success of your online business. It’s easy to think that automated systems are ideal for an Internet business, but the reality is that customers still demand a personal contact when they have a query or issue with their order. CRM systems can help you build an efficient customer management system, but they should be just one element of your overall customer support platform.

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