Over the last few weeks, I’ve been filling in for different people on holidays for a particular client. Answering product questions is somewhat similar to copy writing, but it requires an excellent CSR who understands sales and brand management. After all, it’s all a sales pitch, and it’s a great way of managing and expanding your brand.
Full-sentence answers aren’t just for essays.
The most important thing when corresponding directly with customers, especially when you redirect them to your web site, isn’t saying ‘Go read our policies on our web site.’ That’s just rude and frustrating to the customer who’s just trying to find out your shipping methods or how to exchange a product. Or worse, the ‘We don’t do that,’ when the customer is sure there’s a guarantee on a product. Instead, provide a link to the exact section and give a summary, so they can verify the information for themselves.
As per our web site, we currently only offer exchanges on regular-priced products that are in-stock at the time of exchange. Discontinued, sale or clearance items cannot be exchanged due to inventory limits. For more information about our exchange policy, click the following link: http://www.edencarlsen.net/exchange-policy
I know if I wanted an answer, especially when the answer is already on your web site, I’d rather see an answer like this.
Time is money, but cheating’s easy.
Just like in every business, productivity and efficiency are everything in customer service. Having a cheat sheet or a copy-and-paste answer selection makes everything easier. Commonly asked questions like ‘Can I exchange this?’ or ‘Where can I buy your product in my area?’ can be answered in seconds with a previously-prepared answer that’s friendly (and can also feature a sales pitch).
Links in e-mails to product can increase sales.
Search rankings and sales aren’t the only way to sell product. Low prices only attract a certain kind of buyer, and it certainly won’t help create brand loyalty. Excellent customer service should be informative first, but the underlying theme is customer service exists to create a sale. Including links in your signature back to the web site is a passive way to invite customers to keep shopping. Promotional sales signature, such as the following, are a way that can be updated with your marketing campaigns to help drive traffic specifically to where you want it:
If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 1.604.910.6293.
Customer Care Specialist
EdenCarlsen.net : Communication Design + Brand Development
As a thank you for your e-mail, we invite you to use coupon code CURRENTSALE to receive 15% off all merchandise! For more information about our sale, click here: http://www.edencarlsen.net/current-sale
Another way to create more sale is to answer customer questions and recommend a related product:
Thanks for your e-mail. To answer your question, Item Name #112 is available in blue, as well as in turquoise, aqua, and cyan. You can see all of our different colours for this item here: http://www.edencarlsen.net/item-name-112
If you’re looking for another great blue item, you may want to take a peak at our Item Name #84. It’s available in cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. You can see this great product here: http://www.edencarlsen.net/item-name-84
By doing this, you direct a customer who is already interested in buying a product from your web site to additional products to add to their cart.
Respond quick, but not fast or slow.
If you answer a sales question too quickly, your company may come across as hungry for money. It also invites the customer to send multiple e-mails with only one question at a time, adding to the quantity of e-mails to be answered, extending processing time. If you’re not dealing with a ‘Live Chat’ assistant, an instant response (especially one that’s automatically generated) can make your customers feel ignored or pressured to purchase. Feeling pressured to purchase, especially with e-commerce companies, make them more likely just to shop elsewhere.
However, if you take too long, your customer feels ignored and dejected. Taking two days or more to answer a question like ‘Where is my order’ or ‘What are your store hours?’ are a quick way to not only lose customers but to build a negative brand reputation.
Every company’s optimum response time is different, depending on the industry and its’ clients. Make sure your customer service staff know the best timed response for their e-mails to be sent.
You are your reputation.
This is the absolute most important thing I learned. This was actually written on a Post-It note on the back of the CEO’s door, and has since found itself permanently placed on my laptop screen and at my office. It’s a quick and easy way to put emphasis on what’s important, especially in regards to brand management.
If you’re known as being one of the best companies in your field for customer service, that’s your reputation. To move away from that excellent customer service reputation in order to increase productivity will probably lead to a decline in sales. Keep doing what you’re doing in order to keep seeing the benefits of your reputation, and thus your profits.
It also works on the flip-side. If you can Google your company’s name and see negative reports on consumer web sites, your reputation as trustworthy is pretty much out the window. Then you have to take the challenge to make sure your customer service agents are working to reverse the reputation while answering questions and up-selling product.
Answering questions is so much more than just a way to let your customers communicate with you about their needs from your product or services. Does your sales strategy capitalize on your customer service?