As a growing number of consumers move from offline to online shopping, a major competitive factor will be the service you provide in your e-Commerce store. Here are your do's and don'ts in customer service.

One of the decisive factors in helping Amazon to become a $200 billion e-Commerce business in just 20 years is the respect they have for their customers, and how quickly reputations can travel in the online marketplace:

»If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

The bottom line is simply that the quality of your customer service can have a large bearing on whether or not your online business is successful.

Nailing an online customer service strategy can be tricky, especially if you are new to the world of e-Commerce and need a little advice to get you started.

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That is why we took a peek over the shoulder of Jeff Bezos and added the expertise of our own e-Commerce Specialists to lay out some major Do’s and Don’ts for your online customer service.

Do:

1. Clarify your obligations to your customer

Transparency between business and consumer is essential in maintaining a healthy working relationship, and there are certain expectations that your customers will hold you to unless you clarify your position.

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Areas such as delivery costs, or email response times, can vary from business to business so it is a good idea to clearly state your stance on all aspects of the business - even if your standards are slightly less impressive than a competitor.

»Determine what your customers need, and work backwards.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Remember, customers value honesty and are likely to be sympathetic to longer wait times provided that you make them aware of this, and are up-front with the information.

2. Treat customers as individuals

There is nothing more impressive to a consumer than being treated like an individual, and smart e-Tailers are cashing in on this strategy by personalising the shopping journey for all.

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Customers do not expect to be seen as a number in a sales spreadsheet, and in fact it is much more effective to create a sense of community amongst your customers if you wish them to feel any affinity to your brand.

»Obsess over customers.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Small gestures, such as using their name in communication, can go a long way towards humanising your business. This is doubly important when dealing with online customer service, given that face-to-face interaction is virtually non-existent.

3. Own up to any mistakes.

Despite best efforts, mistakes can happen to anyone. But the worst thing that you can do in this situation is to shy away from owning up to errors.

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Hiding behind processes, blaming colleagues, or delivery contractors, are strategies which customers do not respond well to, and this type of behaviour can hurt the reputation of your brand much more than the original mistake.

»If you want to be inventive, you have to be willing to fail.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

It always comes as a surprise how flexible consumers can be in the face of a mistake which may cause inconvenience.

The majority of failings made in business are still attributed to human error, but don’t be afraid to face up to such things; an honest apology is representative of good customer service.

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4. Bring relevant information to attention

The best businesses to deal with are those which customers do not need to contact, and this is especially true in e-Commerce.

Providing information to your customer before they feel the need to go looking for it will show that you understand their needs, and give a clean impression of your brand.

»If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Personalised product recommendations, tailored content, and transparent policies are great ways to show your dedication to an attentive consumer experience.

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Don’t:

1. Neglect customer complaints

Ignoring customer complaints because they are unpleasant, or difficult to deal with, will do more harm than good to your brand image.

Usage of the internet is growing daily, and this brings much wider access for customers to raise their complaints in a public space.

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This has its advantages to you, as a business, in that by responding with dignity and professionalism to online complaints you can prove to a much wider audience that you are still a fantastic company to work with, even when things don’t go to plan.

»Everyone has to be able to work in a call centre.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Don’t forget to figure out the tone of voice that you wish to convey as a brand, and ensure that all consumer facing staff members are on board with this.

2. Bombard customers with generic content

The online sphere is abuzz with content in the world of e-Commerce, and the challenge is to ensure that your message stands out as a valuable asset to each customer.

Generic messages can easily fall into the spam category, drastically reducing the likelihood that the customer will even open the email.

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Taking a personalised, customer-centric approach is a much more effective strategy when communicating to consumers, and allows you to stay atop of the competition.

»If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

With the cost of attracting new customers roughly 7 times more expensive than retaining a loyal consumer base, it is easy to see why smart e-Tailers are personalising email content and nurturing a loyal consumer base.

3. Overcomplicate your processes

Mobile device usage is on the rise in e-Commerce, and shows no sign of slowing down in the near future.

This is why it is crucial not only to optimise your webshop for mobile devices, but also to simplify your processes as much as possible, reducing the number of clicks required to find an item and complete the purchase.

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Browsing is no longer done from the comfort of our own homes, shopping on-the-go is much more common and your processes need to be slick enough to hold a browsing customer’s attention, despite the distractions all around.

»We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Personalised product recommendations and a smart search function will allow you to bring efficiency and keep your processes nice and simple.

4. Neglect to say »Thank You«

Money may make the world go round, but manners will bring customers right back around to you again.

A helpful smile from the shop floor assistant is a very successful way to encourage customers back to shop with you again, and the same is true in e-Commerce.

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In 2015, a whopping 58% of customers were happy to pay more for the same product to a vendor who provided a better customer service experience, and manners are an easy, but very effective, way to leave a lasting impression on your customer.

»You want your customers to value your service.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

By welcoming a customer back to site, or showing gratitude for their purchase by sending a personalised thank you email after a sale, you can weave elements of customer service into every aspect of the sales journey.

We hope you found the wisdom of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, as inspiring as we do! Sign up for Clerk.io's newsletter for the latest e-Commerce updates, along with guidance in how to put the theory into practice.

»If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.«

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon