Chapter 8. Providing Customer Service with a Virtual Smile

In This Chapter

  • Building a base of repeat customers through effective communication

  • Ensuring a fast response to customer inquiries

  • Creating forms that let your patrons talk back

  • Encouraging contact through RSS feeds

  • Finalizing sales through chat-based customer service

No matter where you sell, you don't have to look far to figure out what separates the successful sellers from the struggling ones. Besides having a good idea and lots of chutzpah, the best sellers invariably provide the best customer service. They're the sellers who leave extras such as cards and gifts in packages; who make an effort to ship merchandise the same day it's purchased; who have a clear return policy and stick to it; and who answer questions promptly help to set off a positive feedback cycle: You provide good service and get good response from customers; you build more trust; you inspire more people to buy from you; and on and on. When I made an effort to include some "extras" with my packages and to ship quickly and carefully, I received my own glowing comments of appreciation, which proved highly satisfying.

Customer service is one area in which small, entrepreneurial businesses can outshine brick-and-mortar stores and even larger online competitors. Whether you're competing in the areas of e-trading, e-music, or e-tail sales of any sort doesn't matter. Tools such as e-mail, RSS feeds, and interactive forms, coupled with the fact that an online commerce ...

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