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Five tips on online customer service

I opened my Etsy shop in February 2014. 3 years and more than 6,000 sales later, I can only be so happy that I jumped and went for it. I'm also so glad because of all the amazing reviews I have received from fabulous customers all around the world.

You may want to open your first online shop too but you're worried that you may not really get 5 stars reviews straight away?

Then read on, this post is for you.

★ 1. Be present through conversations and emails
Always answer emails and messages within 24 hours (even on weekends). Especially if it's about a client purchase and they have a question. I often have people who purchase products on Etsy and they missed out on the promotion and I don't want to keep them waiting for their free product. Sometimes it also happens that their credit card didn't get through and they'll ask you to do something about it. Although you know you can't solve this kind of issue, they don't know that, and so you're still the one responsible to inform them on the process.

I personally check my emails every 2 hours when I'm in the studio, and twice a day when I'm on holidays. Just to be sure it's all ok. Also update your shop's About page if you're on holidays but want to continue selling your products (you'll want to leave your shop open if you sell digital products!).

★ 2. Follow up with your customer within 3 days after their purchase.
Whether it's about a delivery timeframe for their order, or whether it's to follow up on a digital product purchase, ask them how they're doing and if they need any help. It will definitely make them feel like you care and you'll be likely to have a good review just because of that.

★ 3. Listen to them and take into account what they want.
Give your clients what they're asking for. Of course, if it's a refund on a digital product and it goes against your T&Cs, don't do that. But if they get in touch saying they'd like to see more of this or more of that, do take it into account and think about how you can make it happen. Because ultimately, your shop will work if people see the things they're looking for, not the other way around.

★ 4. Create coupons and freebies
Create an "intro" coupon for those who never tried your product before and give a 'thank you' coupon too. It also shows that you're willing to make efforts and that you're flexible and have a good sense for commerce. If you sell digital products, you should also have something they can try out for free, so they know they can trust you when they make their first purchase with you.

★ 5. Know how to handle a complain
I once had a complain that my 3for2 coupon was not valid during my 50% off sales period. The person used a very personal and negative tone, and I gave it an hour to think about my response before writing back.

Never ever write back to a complain straight away, because you'll be way too tempted to use the same tone and you will not appear professional.

When a client is unhappy, always apologise, but not personally. Here's what I mean: instead of saying "I'm really sorry" and imply that it's all your fault, say "I'm really sorry to see that you're having issues" or "I am sorry for the inconvenience caused". This way you keep the necessary distance and the level of respect that are very needed in this online world.

Offer an alternative, or tell them that you are looking into it and when they should expect an update from you. This is super important. Your client needs to feel that you are handling the problem and not running away from it.

Now I learnt all this when I was still working in a luxury 5 star hotel in London, and I can promise you, when someone rushes into you and bursts in anger about something you didn't do, it trains you on how to keep it together and turn the whole thing around. Believe me, online business communication is easy to handle, you just have to watch your tone and always always always (yes I typed it 3 times!) be professional.

I hope these few tips will be helpful to you and your shop, and I would love to know whether you have your own piece of advice to share. If so please feel free to get in touch!

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