When you think about customer service, you might picture large companies. But really, it's just a couple big words that really mean something very simple... connection. This is not going to be a long article in the way that you may have come to expect from me, but it is no less vital to your successful business due to it's relative brevity. Basically, the approach you take with your customers says more about you as a crafter than you might think and because of this it is important to consider what you can do to be the very best you can be!
- Respond to each and every contact a buyer or potential customer makes with you. Most of our communication will be virtual through email or Etsy convos. While that means it is unlikely you will be responding to someone's inquiry immediately, you should do so at the very earliest you possibly can. If it takes you a day or more to get back to someone (unless you have a good reason such as being out of town or your computer broke down), that is too long. At the very least, return their message to say you received it and will respond in detail by such-and-such time. Remember, the longer you take to get back to someone, the more likely they will continue to search for a similar item from someone else! Delay may cost you a sale.
- Use proper grammar and sentence structure! This may be more important than you realize. Many people will paint you in an unprofessional light if you neglect to use proper punctuation, capital letters where appropriate, and format. Even if your answer is "no, I don't do or have that", take the time to say it the right way!
- You should always start and end your responses with proper greeting and a sign-off. If you communicate back and forth several times, you can drop the greeting/signature... but not until you have developed a good communicative relationship with the other person. And at the end of all the messaging, once again sign off to complete it.
- Be honest. If you aren't able to mail something right away, tell them. If you experience unforeseen delay with finishing a custom item, tell them. Never forget that the customer on the other end of the transaction are real people and are likely excited and anxious to get their package! A little honesty goes a long way to encouraging patience and creating loyalty.
- Be FRIENDLY! If someone has taken the time to find, buy, or ask a question about your items, it means they already consider you to be worth their time! Don't disappoint them by being short. Take the time to respond to the effort they put forth and let them know that you appreciate them checking out your shop.
When Problems Come Up
- If someone has an issue lets say with a delayed package or damaged item... address it promptly and make sure they know you are trying your hardest to fix it! Tell them what you know. When was it mailed exactly. How was it packaged. What does the post office say about delivery estimates. Can the item be fixed themselves? What is your policy for returns and, in the individual case, are there any exceptions (such as if you failed to protect it properly with packaging)? Ask for pictures if necessary. Double check they gave you the correct address. Check the calendar in case of holiday delays. Sometimes, people will be unreasonable... but until you are certain of that, make sure they know you are taking their concern seriously and giving it prompt attention.
- Make sure you have your policies spelled out regarding returns, exchanges, etc. This speaks to your professionalism and gives you somewhere established to direct them.
Remember, most people that shop on Etsy are expecting to get a higher level of quality than they would at some box store... and that does not only mean in the items themselves! People are looking to make a connection to an individual through their craft and their service, and YOU are that individual! Make yourself stand out... take the time to prioritize all those who reach out to you and you may be surprised at the difference it makes in helping your business grow and succeed!