Online Customer Service

Two tales for illustration and then some hints.

We wanted to pay a large online company only #70 by credit card kept getting this message:

“IMPORTANT! The address data are not valid. Please check your data.”

Certainly we had been doing something wrong, but it was not obvious what along with the message did not really help.very customer service phone number. We were told that the company: “….might have an issue with the address fields. Please try again later.”

We did. Same outcome.

Cue online support response and email!

I would like to confirm that a new debit has been arranged.

Outstanding! But another day:

Cue 11 more mails and 7 additional phone calls. The telephone calls were debilitating with people who could barely speak English. 1 call ended up in their US billing department – that gave the broker there a laugh – though not us.

On another, the phone was set down because the individual making the telephone was from the office but needed a text to telephone their charging manager. He was told that the account number was asked to move the telephone – obviously he couldn’t remember it asked why the account amount was obligated to make a call transfer when he had been asked to call the billing manager. That got him cut off.

Eventually we got to the base of it, we had filled in just two areas incorrectly – see and see why. So, yes, our fault, but guess what they won’t receive the renewal.

Story # 2.

We wanted to pay an online business #14 by a Significant online payment provider having received:

Now the issue here was simple – we do not use a credit card but a bank account as the source of payment. There was no reason it should fail there was plenty of credit on the account.

Anyway in the spirit of goodwill we decided to go to the site and check the particulars. They were right but, possibly changing to a charge card could work.

Except we were not ‘allowed’ to do this by their system.

Auto-responder reply to this email:

“Thank you for contacting Customer Service. Click on the hyperlink below to go to the website. To ask a question that is specific to your account, you must log in to your account.

Oh well, back into the website and send a “ticket”. Though the site actually says:

“Help by Email – Our Customer Service team is specially trained to address all account inquiries. Send us an email and we will reply promptly. Contact Customer Service.”

An email isn’t delivered but a kind served up! No response. Send a second “ticket”. No response. Email received:

“Your subscription to X has been canceled because your credit card was refused.You will not be invoiced for this Subscription again.”

Cue telephone calls x3. Automated menu programs that simply get more automatic menus that just get more automated menus which…

Called supplier and made other agreements, canceled payment supplier accounts.

What exactly do you need to do to make sure you provide great customer service? Firstly, remember that is Customer Service you’re following NOT ‘Online’ Customer Service – online is only part of good Customer Service. And, really, some of it’s law and the remainder of it is common sense.

Thus ON your website.

Companies Act 2006

If you are a UK limited company this act requires you to print in legible characters

  • – your business name
  • – your business registration number
  • – place of registration
  • – registered office address
  • – the title of the organisation where the customer is contracting, if this is different from the trading name
  • – that the VAT amount even when the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions
  • – membership details of any professional or trade institution, including any registration amount

In addition to this:

Prices on the website has to be clear and unambiguous and say whether they are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.
If the company is an investment company, the fact that it’s such a company has to be stated.
If the Business is a limited company exempt from the duty to use the word “limited” in its name, the fact that it is a small company must be said
Everything sounds a bit legal, but actually it is good marketing practice. Why do you want customers to know these things about you personally?

We recommend that they’re published in the footer on every page and that a contact number and email are BOLDLY on each page too. Customers trust companies that are open and honest – reveal that you’re honest and open in the easiest way possible: educate them “where you live”.

Detailed product / service pages

Accurate and detailed information, including easily available pricing information, on product / service pages may avoid the need for clients to call oremail. Provide detailed information of delivery costs and times, as well as general info about the product on offer. I simply hate it when I have to press the purchase button until they will inform me the price and it puts me off and means they lose trust, so if there’s an option at a similar cost that has been upfront, I shop there.

Provide comprehensive FAQs

This might help clients quickly find the answers to their queries about shipping, returns policies etc.. A searchable FAQs segment that covers every conceivable question will enable customers to get answers more quickly and take off the pressure client support staff.

However, a website is only a station and what you want are happy, high spending, loyal, repeat buying customers.

This usually means you’ve got to get it all right which means offline also. So:

Get the best possible individuals

There’s no way that the customer service quality can transcend the quality of the people who offer it. Think you can find the very best by paying the lowest wage, giving the fewest benefits, doing the least training? Oh yeah? Companies don’t help clients… people do.

Be good supervisors

How you care for your people is going to be the way they treat your customers. They are not “human resources” but people!

Staff take their cue from management. Are you polite to them? Can you listen? Can you attempt to adapt their requests? Show me lousy customer service and I’ll show you poor direction.

Be adaptive

If a client asks something particular, do all you can to say. The fact that a customer cared to ask is all you want to know. It may be an exception in your customer service policy but try to get it done. Remember you’re just creating one exception for a single client not making a brand new policy, though, that knows it may be such a fantastic idea that you embrace it.

Ensure that your returns policy as simple and flexible as possible after all Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have left themselves on it. By enabling customers to return product bought online to a store, as an example, you avoid unnecessary hassle and give customers more confidence to purchase.

Look at this response we received from Xcalibre the other day:

“This is possible however will require a lot of changes from this end. It will be quite a lengthy procedure. If you wish us to continue with this and move it to a new account please can you confirm this and I will pass this onto the dedicated department to deal with.”

Now that’s service!