Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Customer Communication

A big thank you to our guest blogger today -  
Lesley of Butterfly Garden Creations.

Lesley has some good tips on customer communication:

Customers are the most important part of any business.  We, as Etsy sellers, all know that without our customers, we would not have a shop.  Every transaction we have with customers is an opportunity for future business, in the form of them as a returning customer, or from anyone who they might tell about your shop and products.  Happy customers are more likely to return and tell their friends.  So, besides making a fantastic product, what is the one single thing that you can do as a shop owner to ensure your customer's happiness with their purchase from you?  COMMUNICATE with them!

How can a seller effectively communicate with customers?

1.  Be responsive, and respond to communications from your customers (or potential customers) in a timely manner.  No one likes to send an convo off and be left wondering if it was ever even received!   Check your convos and emails daily, and make sure to respond to inquiries within 24 hours of receiving them.  If someone asks you a question that you can't answer right away, then let them know that you will need to research their question and will get back to them as soon as possible. 

2.  Be informative.  You see the phrase "think like a customer" all over the Etsy forums.  It is as true for communications as it is for creating tags and titles for Esty searches and SEO.  Think about what YOU expect as a buyer, and think about how large retailers like Amazon communicate with their customers.  At a minimum, what do you want to know when you place an order with a seller, whether with a large retailer or a one-person Etsy shop?  Answer that question, and provide your customers with exactly that information, BEFORE they have to ask you for it.  Many sellers (myself included) like to send a convo or email to buyers to confirm receipt of the order, and take that opportunity to let them know processing time, expected shipping date, shipping method, estimated delivery time, and other important information about their order, such as how to contact you with any questions.

3. Be professional and brief.  Communicate clearly and professionally, using correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Remember that some customers may not speak your language fluently, and you don't want them to have to guess at what you are saying.  Keep your communication concise, brief, and minimal in frequency.  There is a fine line between good communication and being a nuisance!

4.  Be flexible.  As sellers, we are used to the Etsy convo system, but many buyers may be brand new to Etsy and not even know it exists.  Be willing to communicate with them via other methods, such as email, or even by phone, if necessary.  Many sellers do not want to give out their phone numbers, but others say it is a great personal touch to interacting with their customers.  If you are not comfortable with talking with customers via phone, then offer an alternative and assure them that you will be responsive.  Email is a great way to communicate with customers, and many sellers have email accounts set up specifically for their Etsy business.  Use it!  Email is also a great way to let your customers know where else they can find you, such as on Facebook, your blog, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  It's easy to put those links in your email signature so that with every email communication you have, you are advertising!

5.  Be thankful.  Don't ever, EVER forget to thank your customer!  Thank them every chance you get, and let them know that their business is important to you.  Remember, they are the reason you are here!

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