Friday , 5 June 2020
Don’t assume your customer knows your business. It is your job as an owner to be on the lookout for mistake potential. At the end of the day, YOU are responsible. If you insist on telling yourself it’s not your fault, then at least assume the responsibility for the way you deal with it. Do everything within your power to alleviate the customer from blaming herself.

Nitty Gritty Knowledge for Online Entrepreneurs – Customer Service

customer service

Thank you for following up with Part II of “Nitty Gritty Knowledge for Online Entrepreneurs”.  Find out what you missed in Part I.

Customer Service

This is where I’m going to astound and amaze you.  When I was 17, I was a top bill collector for a credit card company.   I didn’t even own any credit cards, but I learned quickly that knowing how to collect money didn’t have anything to do with knowing how to spend money.  Even at 17, I knew that 1) bad things happen to good people and 2) treat others the way you want to be treated.

When I see that a customer has taken the time to take a picture of her cord cover in use and upload it along with her feedback, this is such a personal accomplishment to me.  I can say, “I helped add some simple beauty to her home.”  I take pride in that!  Being a wife and a mom are my first priorities, and a large part of that is providing a welcoming home.  (I’m currently working on the scientific theory that it can be welcoming without being clean.)  When I looked at my customer’s picture, I thought, “Oh, wow, she did a beautiful job decorating her daughter’s room.  Love that bed!”  My second thought, “She needs an additional cord cover.”  Notice the one running along the wall to the power strip.  So, I contacted her and asked her if she would like a second cord cover for FREE!  She said, “No, thank you.”  Just kidding.  She said “Yes, but CAN I PAY YOU?”   If you weren’t astounded and amazed at my bill-collecting prowess, I’ll let you take time out to revel now.

People want to know how much you care before they care about how much you know.  I offered my customers solutions to their problems.  I wasn’t just after their money.  As you can imagine, I was constantly getting counseled about the length of my phone calls.  (Let me take this minute to encourage you that if you are having problems with your credit card bills to call them about possible solutions.  They don’t gain anything by charging your account off.)  Today, I use this helpful attitude by offering options to my customers: custom widths, lengths, seam closures, and end closures and to my fellow entrepreneurs by submitting to this blog.  This is not a paid submission.  It is a work of the heart!  I love to share the things I have learned, most of them the hard way.

Who doesn’t like getting what they want when they want it?  How many of you not only want it right but want it right now?  Okay, I had to stop typing for a minute, because I had both hands raised.  I am obsessed with checking my Etsy mail.  I feel so silly, because I get so excited to see a convo just for me!  We are a one-computer home that has to use my husband’s Blackberry as a modem.  Thankfully, I have the best husband in the world.  He understands that the two most important words a husband can learn are “Yes, dear.”  (I wake up in hot sweats dreaming of DSL!  We live so far out in the country even satellite connections are slow.)  Coincidentally, I take all of my photos with his phone, proving you don’t have to have an expensive camera.  Don’t get me wrong, I covet a new camera.  However, I have learned to do the best you can with what (camera) you have.

Respond to your customer as quickly as humanly possible.  Do you have a setting on your phone that alerts you to a new email?  Turn it on!  You may need to set up a dedicated store email account, so you don’t get notifications about enlarging your mortgage or financing your sex life, lol.

Under-promise and over-deliver.  Make sure you have your shop policies filled out, especially concerning shipping.  State how many days (and if you mean weekdays only) it takes you to ship the purchased item.  Make every effort to ship your product faster than stated.  If there is a delay, let your customer know how long the delay is going to be and an explanation is always nice.  But don’t lie!  A man can build a thousand bridges and be known as a bridge-builder, but it only takes one lie to be a liar!  Keep small items on hand to send as a little something extra, in case you do have a delay.

Don’t assume your customer knows your business.  It is your job as an owner to be on the lookout for mistake potential.  At the end of the day, YOU are responsible.  If you insist on telling yourself it’s not your fault, then at least assume the responsibility for the way you deal with it.  Do everything within your power to alleviate the customer from blaming herself.

I have had several orders where the customer underestimated the length that she would need, even though I clearly state in my description to double the length of the cord, and I also include the length of the average lamp cord.  This leads me to believe that most customers probably don’t read every thing you write.   If a customer places an order for a 2 foot cord cover, then I want to verify with her that in order to have the scrunched look that this will only work on a 1 foot cord.  Then she says, “Okay, then I need a 4 foot cord cover.”

If your customer is a competitive shopper, then she has compared your product to at least two other stores before deciding on yours.  Some of the cord cover merchants offer their cords already scrunched, so their 2-foot cord cover is actually 4 feet of material already scrunched.  (I’m setting you up for a future article: Know Your Product and Your Competitor’s)

Also, your customers can’t look at your butt and read your mind.  Be very clear about every thing.  Is there a crack?  How large is the crack?  Do you have a good picture of said crack?  Does it affect functionality?  Is your cream color closer to a jersey cream (pale yellow) or closer to an ivory?  Is it 2 inches in diameter or 2 inches in circumference?  Make sure they know the difference.

Especially when dealing with custom orders, repeat back to the customer the terms of the order in your own words.  Creating custom cord covers has taught me all about circumference and diameter.  (Don’t feel bad, Ms. Albertson.  I just wasn’t that interested in 10th grade.)  I wish y’all could have seen the look on my face the other night when I actually got to use pi for the first time in my life.  The diameter of an object times pi equals the circumference of a circular object. It’s the little things in life that make me happy!  (Kudos to my super intelligent husband who enlightened me to this fact.)

Right now, the new “Happy Tracks” Blue Bell ice cream is making me very happy indeed.  My Wii balance board is going to say “Oh!” when I step on her tomorrow.  “Measuring, measuring, measuring.  You’ve gained weight since last time, haven’t you?”  That’s okay.  It’s motivation to take down another chump in the boxing arena.  Punch, punch, jab, fool!  How you like me now!  Yeah, baby! 

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  1. Fabulous article, everything was spot on. I especially liked your take on seller accountability, in my shop it’s never the customer’s problem if something goes wrong, never. I so bristle when I’m reading seller descriptions and policies and I read, “once shipped I’m not responsible for delivery” (……oooooooo, so bad, so bad an attitude.) Or “the color on your monitor may not be the same as mine, can’t help that….” (ok I’m using my own eloquent paraphrasing, but that’s really what they are saying….fine to bring that to the customer’s attention, I do too, but that it’s their problem???….I don’t think so, esty professional!)

    • Oh, I love being spot on! But not spat on, lol. The comment about not being responsible for delivery definitely rings my bell, especially if they don’t even offer insurance. That’s the society we live in, though. Everyone wants to play the blame game. Who moved my cheese? (It’s a book.)

  2. I so, so agree. The customer is ALWAYS right. Some people just don’t ‘get’ this, but is is my philosophy. Definitely.


  3. It is so true that as customers, we don’t read the whole listing. Most people skim, whether it’s a listing or an article. It’s best to verify specifics with the customer. I used to work in a book/music store & in order to determine what a customer was really looking for, I needed to ask them a series of question. Often what they ask for at first is not what they really want. Maybe they don’t have the words or terminology to ask for what they really want & it’s our job to figure it out. The customer may always be right, but sometimes they don’t know how to express their needs. Thanks for the great article.

    • The owner definitely needs to work their magic to get to the heart of what a customer needs. That’s where knowing your product comes into play.

      Kudos to you for giving your best to your customers!

  4. The other day my son fell in love with an online game that I actually approved of, so I decided to buy it for him.

    I went to the company’s site and followed the ‘buy the game’ link. I quickly discovered that the price was roughly double if I used PayPal instead of a credit card. This had to be a mistake!

    So I used their “help” link to send an email asking about the price differences. The next day I received a note from Christian in their customer service department, saying that I don’t have to buy the game CD, I could just download the game.

    That was it, nothing else. Only, I had no idea how to download the game without buying the CD, and I wanted to use PayPal but get the credit card price. And it had taken 24 hours to get to this level of frustration, with a six-year-old on an adrenaline high jumping up and down at my elbow almost the whole time.

    So I wrote back to tell them that their customer service wasn’t exactly overwhelming me, and I needed further help.

    The next day I got another note from Christian. I hadn’t included the ticket number in the second note, so he had no idea what I was talking about and couldn’t help me…

    I deleted all my correspondence with the game company and loaded my son in the car. We went to Game Stop and bought him something for his DS instead.

    • Yes, Jenny, I sympathize. I have an 8 year old gamer, and we are very selective as to what he can play. Nothing over E10, and even then it’s sometimes difficult. I have found the best thing is to go deal with a physical store that you can return the game to if it’s below par. Just purchased from Game Stop myself last night. Was impressed that if I don’t like the game, I can bring it back for a refund. But My Sims Kingdom seems pretty harmless at this point.

  5. Melinda,

    Loved reading this and loved being your lucky customer who received the additional cord cover at no extra cost! Seriously made my whole month. It’s ironic because I had given up home on Etsy after not receiving an order after 3 months of being lied to and having excuses such as “it must have been lost in the mail” After the second time it was “lost in the mail” I knew my order wasn’t coming and I was out luckily only $22 bucks, but still I wanted what I had paid for. The woman’s shop is now shut down and I have yet to receive an explanation. So I stumbled upon your cord covers and fell in love. I decided to give Etsy another shot and as fate would have it I couldn’t have made a better transaction with a pretty special individual. Thank you for being so generous and starting a pay it forward movement :)

    BTW…yes my daughter’s room is always clean because she prefers to be covered in the mud and dirt outside, haha!

  6. Hey,
    Right on and thank you for reminding me “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”.
    I’m part of the old school, meaning mom and pop stores. I still seek out the smaller business, even though they are becoming scarce as hen’s teeth.
    The customer is always right is even more true today than ever before. I do everything possible to please, but I’m not sure it’s enough. I haven’t done so good with Etsy, but I keep trying. Never, ever give up. elizabeth

    • Elizabeth, we’ll just keep encouraging each other! I HATE Wal-Mart, but they have made themselves a necessary evil, I’m afraid. I have just committed myself to buy from the Etsy community if at all possible. (Thanks Man Cave for the shaving soap for my husband!) I truly dislike putting money into Wal-Mart, especially after what they have done to small town stores. I watched a documentary on them, and it was so sad seeing store owners that had been in business for 40+ years have to close shop. I know business is business, but I long for the days of manners and etiquette, in our business as well as our personal lives. At the end of the day when you have done all you can do to stand, stand therefore! Be encouraged!

  7. I enjoyed this article – lots of good advice delivered with a healthy dose of humor from someone who is clearly a happy soul. Thanks!

    • Hey, Gail! I am a happy soul, indeed. I had to put my shop on vacation for a little over a year, because we moved and life was just too hectic for a while. I reopened my shop with a different twist, and I am getting back into the swing of things. I just sold one of my hymn art pieces, and I popped on over here to see what Handmadeology was up to and lo and behold, there was one of my articles. Makes me double happy!

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