Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

Why customer service is SO important?

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

Estimating the total startup and operational cost of an (eCommerce) website is not necessarily difficult, though the total cost can be surprising.

Most people focus on the development cost of the core website, without factoring the ancillary development costs, let alone the operating costs.

And it is the ongoing costs that seem to catch many out.

There is a fairly widespread belief (based at least on my own observations) that once the website is developed and launched, it does all of the work.

This is attune to assuming that once the physical store is established, it will run itself.

And obviously it won’t.

You get what you put in. Customers are customers whether online or offline, and their demands don’t change.

Dipping your toe in is not the answer. Expecting instant gratification is not a reasonable approach. Pulling out the second you don’t see hyper-performance is like shutting a store down on the third day after you see no sales.

Indeed, there are a hundred blogs just in the points above.

Instead, this (brief) blog is about the specifics of Customer Service and the fact that running any customer-facing online venture requires not only investment in ongoing customer service, though exceptional customer service to truly succeed and excel.

Anything but, and you will be sidelined as with any business with crappy customer service. It is just no platform to grow.

Is customer service really that important?

Life would be great without customers.

The fact of the matter is that no matter how well we seek to deliver and perform – and indeed, do deliver and perform – customers will still have questions, requirements and complaints.

My observation is that the ‘immediate gratification’ nature of the Internet magnifies this, though even if you send a dozen emails between purchase and delivery, a section of customers will have issues.

Some (many?) users will put up with a sub-optimal website/buying experience, though a poor customer service experience is guaranteed to drive them nuts, and undo any good work you did selling to them.

The experience a customer has with your website only starts with purchasing the product.

When we analyse the ‘sales funnel’ of a website, we focus on two types of attributes:

  • The Positive Attributes: the Motivation of the user, the Value to the user and the Incentive offered to the user. (M + V + I).
  • The Negative Attributes: the Anxiety within the user and the Friction the user experiences making the purchase. (A + F)

Most ideally, the positives outweigh the negatives and if achieved, sales are made.

It is the negatives and exclusively, ‘Anxiety’ that almost exclusively becomes the issue with why customers reach out for service. And why they panic, often for no good reason.

Worst still, the relative importance, relevance or impact of the customer’s ‘Anxiety’ is disproportionately and usually excessively amplified far over and above what it should be. They become (relatively) irrational.

We could spend years understanding human behaviour, though the fact is that customers become strange and strangely demanding once they’ve supplied their credit card details.

They start to wonder about the status of their order. They become concerned about missing vouchers. They received the wrong product. Who knows?

How you deal with this is the make-or-break of the experience your customer has with your website. They become long-term customers and espouse your brilliance to friends, or they turn on you.

Your web developer should be able to guide you and give you the tools to assist, though the ball is ultimately in your court.

There is a good blog on the matter at eConsultancy. If you’ve nailed your website and you’re converting customers, it surely must be your focus.

Trust me, it is no different to offline. Treat them well and they’ll return. Understand the costs of doing so, though appreciate the return.