We all know that good customer service is really important. That’s because, put simply, it can have a positive impact your future sales. “Treat your customers well,” explains Kim Lawler, “give them an ‘experience’ (make your customer service, packaging etc., excellent), and they’ll recommend you to their friends.”
If you’re new to selling your work, you might be wondering what that means – how do you treat customers well, and what kinds of things contribute to a good customer experience? We’ve put together a few tips from some of our experienced Folksy Sellers and our Support team into this Beginner’s Guide to get you started:
1. Be active and pro-active
First of all, buying online can be really nerve-wracking for buyers, particularly if they haven’t bought from you or through Folksy before. If your shop seems active, it’s more likely that buyers will risk parting with their money and not lose their nerve or go elsewhere.
- Keep your shop well stocked and looking fresh by listing new stock and renewing expired items on a regular basis. Remember that if you don’t have new items, you can keep stock looking fresh by rearranging your items in Shopkeeping and, if you’re a Plus seller, you can select ‘featured items’ which are placed at the top of your shop page.
- Talk about your Folksy shop and what you’re creating and listing on social media – it lets buyers know you’re active on Folksy and available to deal with their order.
- Don’t rely on seeing notification emails – check your emails and your Folksy Dashboard daily for orders and enquiries.
- If you receive a lot of emails and if your sales notifications tend to get buried, set up an email account, mailbox or folder dedicated to your online sales (not receiving notification emails? If they are not in your spam folder, please contact Support).
- If you are away and are unable to fulfil orders or to respond to emails, put your shop in Holiday Mode and use an auto-responder on your email account – most email services offer one.
- Check your physical stock levels against the items you have listed for sale regularly, particularly if you sell the same items on more than one platform!
- Try to include as much detail about the product in the item description and product images so there are no surprises when it arrives! Things like how big it is, what it’s made of, what kind of fixings it uses, what the back looks like.
2. Communicate with your customers
The best promotion we can get is from our customers, which is why we try our best to be good communicators – Lost Kind
Customers may worry about when to expect their order, whether the parcel will fit through their letter box or if they need to be in to sign for it. If you haven’t already covered these in your item description (or even if you have, not everyone will have read it so it’s often worth repeating!) you can send your customer a friendly, personalised email to confirm that you have received their order along with any extra information about their order that you think might be relevant.
- When you receive an order, email the buyer to thank them and give them an estimate of the shipping time. Try to anticipate any questions they might have about the delivery and mention that if they have any questions or if there are any problems with their order they can let you know by replying to your email.
- Respond to your buyer’s questions in good time, ideally within 24 hours. If you take too long, they may come to Support and ask us to chase you up, or even to cancel their order.
Don’t spam your customers but please please please let customers know if there is a delay or anything else they may need to know that isn’t stated in the listing or your policies – H B Ceramics
3. Go the extra mile
Part of what makes buying through Folksy so special is buying directly from the maker and having the opportunity to experience a very personalised product or service. If you can do something specific that has been requested, like add a note to the parcel or make a change to the colour or wording, great! If not, simply apologise and allow the buyer to decide if they still wish to continue with the order.
I genuinely want all my customers to be happy with their buying experience, so if I can rush an order out to them because they need it quickly, I will; if they want a colour change on a pen-drawn piece then I always try to make that happen. People remember things like that and let others know that you’re a good store to buy from – Chatty Nora
4. Packaging and posting your orders
Packaging orders well is a simple and effective way to make your buyer feel really special, and increase the chance they’ll remember you next time they’re shopping! Here are some simple ideas:
- Wrap your item nicely and enclose a handwritten, stamped or otherwise personalised thank you note.
- Include your email address and contact details on your invoice or other packaging material so the buyer can contact you quickly in case of any problems.
- Pop one or two nice business cards, stickers or pretty postcards in with the package – perhaps the buyer will want to keep them for themselves, have them framed, stick them to their fridge, or pass them on to a friend!
- Some sellers include a small gift like a badge (things that are cheap to produce and don’t add much weight to the parcel!), a discount off their next order (using the discount code feature) or free entry into a prize draw.
- Finally, post orders as quickly as you can and remember to mark your orders as posted as soon as they are dispatched using the button on the Orders page of your Dashboard. This sends an email to the buyer to let them know their item is on its way.
Make sure your packaging is cost effective for the product that you’re wrapping in it. There are lots of inexpensive ways to brand your own packaging; printing your own stickers at home or getting a custom ink stamp made for example. Pinterest is a great place to find unique DIY packaging ideas – Melanie Commins, Beledien Handmade
5. Deal with problems quickly and efficiently
Despite all your best efforts, there will be occasions where things go wrong. Firstly, don’t panic, it can happen to anyone! Second, if you deal with issues or mistakes quickly and professionally, chances are your customer won’t hold it against you and may even commend your service!
Be aware that all sales are covered by the Distance Selling Regulations and you must comply with them. These regulations include important details about repairs, returns, exchanges, cancellations and refunds.
- Make sure you are aware of your legal obligations and the buyer’s rights. There’s a brilliant guide on the Trading Standards website.
- If your customer is angry, stay calm, take a step back and try not to take any comments personally.
- Ask them to explain or clarify the problem as fully as possible.
- Once you have all the facts in place, let them know how and when you’re going to handle it.
- If the buyer is entitled to a repair, return or a refund, don’t quibble!
- If the customer is obliged to return the item to you before you can take any action, politely explain that to them. Do email them to chase them up if you’re waiting a while – it may turn out that they have decided not to proceed but it shows that you care.
- Keep the customer informed of progress and timescales.
- Once the issue is resolved, email the buyer to check they’re happy!
6. Listen to feedback and improve
If you receive feedback that not everything met your customer’s expectations, don’t despair – even disappointing feedback is useful because, in most instances, there will be things that you can change. Perhaps the postage was too high (try incorporating postage and packaging costs into your item price, or reduce your packaging costs), the package took too long to arrive (consider upgrading your standard postage method, eg. from second-class to first-class; first class to first-class recorded), or if your product arrived damaged maybe you need to rethink how you make it or how it’s packaged.
Always thank the buyer for their feedback and tell them if you’re making changes as a result – it shows you’re listening and they may be more inclined to buy from you again. Perhaps you could offer them a discount on their next order?
7. Be polite!
This should go without saying but, above all, always be polite and respectful. As FionaT points out: “The items they’re buying from you are usually a luxury rather than an essential.”
Chat to people, be nice and when you make sales, don’t forget to say thank you. If you show your customers that you care about them, they’ll care enough to come back again – Angie Spurgeon, Artwork by Angie
Remember, your customers are your “best ambassadors” (Jeff Soan)!