An example of really bad customer service…
We had to purchase some hard drives for a server few months ago. Due to the nature of the setup, we needed to get the exact same drive models that were currently being used in the server. We went to one of the companies that we routinely purchase products from and placed an order for 2 hard drives. The next day we received an email from the company stating that they could not ship our order because our Paypal address was unconfirmed. Having moved by one business unit to the unit next door. We explained to them that we were in the next office down, and that we didn’t want the drives to get delivered to the previous location…
Well, it didn’t matter that we have bought thousands of pounds in server and computer hardware in the past few years, or that the address was 1 unit number different, or that we actually called them. They would only ship to a confirmed address which lost them our order and possibly our future business.
This cost them £10, and they probably lose 20 more orders from me over the next 5 years.
An example of really good customer service.
A colleague owns a number of fish tanks, and purchased some supplies including a very low cost automatic timer from a well know online pet supply retailer around the same time as the hard drive debacle. The timer didn’t work properly, and in the midst of a busy schedule, 9 birthdays, 2 business trips, and 2 holidays he forgot to contact them about getting it replaced. Finally getting around to it, he read their return policy and it understandably said he needed to return the dysfunctional equipment to them. Since the shipping would cost about the same as re-purchasing the item, he gave them a call and asked if he really needed to send it back… Ah, he found out that he was past the refund point by a month and a half…
Even so, they decided to replace it for free and they didn’t require him to send back the broken one. This is what we call above and beyond customer service, and it’s guaranteed that next time he needs something for one of his aquariums, they’re the first place he’ll stop.
This cost them £10, and they probably get 20 more orders from him over the next 5 years.
These are polar examples of a very important concept… Your existing customers are not and should not be treated like your new ones!
It’s a well accepted principle in marketing and business in general, that your existing customer is easier and cheaper to sell to than a new customer. Additionally for ecommerce, selling to your existing customer poses a significantly lesser security and fraud risk than any new customer, especially in a case like this where the customer has placed several orders over several years.
If you want to create a remarkable online business, create the best experience for new customers, and make it even better, easier, and more efficient, for repeat customers.
There’s no reason to assume all customers should be treated the same. The majority of shoppers only place one or two orders with a website (Unless we’re talking about someone like Amazon). For this reason, you should make it as easy as possible for repeat customers to order from you, and you should give first time shoppers reasons to come back. It’s significantly cheaper to entice an existing customer to make another purchase than to go out and find a new customer.
If you think you’re significant enough that most of you shoppers wont go somewhere else if the price or service is much better, think again.
The real reality check…
Sure our business is insignificant in the long run. Anycorp may have only made a few hundred pounds in profit from us over the past few years. However, in this world of social media exchange, one persons rant can reach many thousands of other people very quickly. They could be current customers that could decide to shop somewhere else.