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Whether you’re selling products online or services door-to-door, the #1 concern for your customers is: how is your customer service. How do you handle a situation when a customer has a question or an issue with a product they bought from you?
If your answer to that is “we have great customer service”, you’re doing it wrong. Every company will tell you they have that.

Here’s a little secret:

It’s not about customer service. It’s about customer experience.

Recently, I had some trouble with a WordPress theme and here’s a good example of how NOT to do it.
I sent an email to customer support about the issue I was having. This was the reply:

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Keep in mind that my email signature states that I run a web design company.
After responding that the option I was looking for was no longer there, I get this:

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Web designer, remember? Don’t you think I would’ve clicked that already?

Not only is the extremely short reply insulting, it’s also not very helpful. That on top of waiting for 10 hours for a reply like this made me choose not to upgrade the theme to the premium version and overall, it felt like a bad customer experience overall. I figured it out on my own, but it would’ve taken a lot of frustration out of the equation if I would’ve received a quick, useful reply in the first place.
I understand that if you’re on the other side of the world, you need to sleep, but at least make damn sure you’re helping people when you’re awake.

I hear you think: “Oh, you’re using a free version. You can’t expect much service for that”. You’re wrong. I was willing to upgrade to the premium version of this theme, but I’m not going to pay for something that comes with this level of service.

Some examples of great customer service

This actually happened today. We’re building a Shopify store for one of our clients, and we’re using a recurring billing app called ReCharge.
This morning, I ran into an issue where I had to import 85 products into the ReCharge database. Their dashboard isn’t built for this and you’re supposed to add every product manually, one by one. For most stores, this is not a problem, but I wasn’t going to waste my client’s time doing this manually.

I sent an email to ReCharge support about the situation, and I got this as a reply, within 10 minutes:

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  • Friendly 
  • Helpful (they offered to do it for me!) 
  • Quick 
  • Asked additional questions to make sure they did it right the first time 

Another example

Canadian mobility provider Koodo. I have been a loyal customer for years, and most of that comes from their excellent customer experience.

A few weeks ago, I had some questions about my tab and how it would be affected if I switched phones. Guess what? I sent an email. This was their reply.

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You think the amount of text is overkill? Hell no.

  • Friendly 
  • Helpful (They explained exactly what to do where) 
  • Quick? Well, I had to wait a few hours, but it wasn’t a time pressing matter.
  • Additional, useful information that I didn’t even ask for? 
  • Other options to contact them 

How to do it right?

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in or how you accept customer inquiries, whether it’s via email, chat, phone or social media, there are 5 main elements to a great customer experience:

  1. Your response needs to be reasonably quick.
  2. It needs to be helpful (try to anticipate how a customer would react to whatever you’re about to answer).
  3. It needs to be friendly, for obvious reasons.
  4. Try to provide more information than they ask for.
  5. A sincere thank you, of some kind will go a long way (and I don’t mean the scripted “thank you for calling Company XYZ, how can I help you?” or “Thanks” in your email signature)
  6. (Bonus) Use the IFTTTOT method. “If This Then That Or That”. Answer a query by giving options. “If this happens, try this, and if that doesn’t work, do this”.
    For example, if you run a store and a product is no longer available, you can give the option to either cancel the order for a refund, for a store credit or replace the product with an alternative. This gives the customer 3 options. They’ll feel better than when they hear “Sorry, it’s sold out”.

What can you add? Do you have excellent customer experience with companies? Share them in the comments below.