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An Online Retail Company That Lost A Sale


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#1 swainzy

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:20 PM

I was in the market for some reading glasses. I came to a site that showed many choices and spent time deciding which ones I wanted. I placed my order by phone giving my email address. I waited and waited and rec'd no conformation of purchase with an order number. I called back and they had to find me by name but kept asking for my order number which I told them I was not given an order number.

I called for 5 weeks. They told me one pair was not coming from the distributor and that was holding up the order. I said, forget that pair and send the two others. They said they can't do it that way - that I had to cancel the whole order and reorder.

That's when they lost me. No conversion for them. That's too bad. They had a nice site, it worked well but the customer service end of it wasn't up to par. When I brought up my complaints, i.e. sending out an order confirmation and updating the order status by email, they agreed they fell short but so what, they aren't changing their procedure. They had an excuse - they were new owners. No excuses pour moi.

It boggles the mind how much a business is willing to spend on a site and build up a business only to have it fall short at ANY point in the process.

If that were my business, I'd track those calls, call them back and listen to their complaints and find out why the sale fell through. Right?

You HAVE to know what you are doing if you expect to have a successful online business. There is so much that goes into an online business - it boggles the mind.

#2 bwelford

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:34 PM

It's nice to get compliments from satisfied customers, but you should beware about easing back in consequence.

The real gold comes from hearing from those who were less satisfied, even if by only a small amount. They can tell you how to make your process that much more customer-satisfying. As you say, Donna, that will have a major impact on your sales growth. Who knows if you become really good, they'll tell their friends and they'll tell their friends ...

#3 Respree

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 07:36 PM

All too common a story, Donna.

Its especially sad when the average online conversion rate is only about two or three percent. One might think that if they had a buyer or interested buyer, they would treat those precious few like gold. I know I do. Customers are an Etailer's lifeblood. Without them, an online store is just bandwidth and hard work down the drain.

I wonder if its a training issue or the attitude of the owner...

When I go to McDonalds for a morning biscuit, its painfully obvious their poor customer service a training issue. Goes something like this: "I'll have a sausage biscuit with egg. Clerk: $2.80, drive to the first window. I drive up. Clerk says, "$2.80." I hand them the money, they hand me the change and say, 'Next Window." I drive to the next window, the clerk hands me my food saying, "Here you go." I drive away. No "Good morning." No "How are you?" No smile. No "Thank you." (Is it so hard to say?) Maybe its the cheap prices that dictate they don't have to be courteous to their customers.

An owner-run breakfast place I sometimes go to. "I'll have a bacon plate, eggs over easy. Owner: Give me $5.85. I give him $6.00 and he places the change on the counter along with my receipt. Again, No "Good morning." No "How are you?" No smile. No "Thank you."

Its amazing how many restaurants and stores are like this.

I wonder how much more successful these restaurants could be, if they simply extend their customers some courtesy and the attention they deserve.

Maybe they don't need the business...

#4 swainzy

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 09:03 PM

Garrick,
It's kind of amazing isn't it? I think a simple "how you doin today" or "thank you" goes so so far. For example, at a restaurant, when a wait person is smiling and attentive, how do I want to tip? It's a rare experience when an employee brings energy and thoughtfulness to the public, so much so that I tip big time when I get a good attitude or I tell a manager about a good experience with an employee.

It seems to me that certain unfriendly employees are overtly unhappy people. They probably hate their job or their life or aren't paid well perhaps and are generally miserable. That is what shows through.

I seek out pleasant connections with people. It's what makes societies work. And to go even further, if you are in business simply to make a buck, that does'nt always work. People can tell when the $ comes first.

You shine a light and people will be drawn to that light. This translate right into the business and the material world.

Did I go off topic? Sorry. :rolleyes:

#5 SEOigloo

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 09:39 PM

Donna,
Agreed, agreed. I wrote about this same subject, recently, after having been horrified by an unhealthy situation in the bulk foods section at the grocery store. I quietly reported it to the cashier whose only response was a blank, "oh."

Companies would do well to employ someone to train their employees in basic modes of customer service. It might seem silly, but I believe that young people, in particular, would benefit from a couple of hours of role play, the focus of which would be assisting customers in basic as well as difficult situations. It could be a good job for someone enterprising, with good social skills...hiring out to companies to train the staff in basic deportment.

I really hope you managed to find the glasses elsewhere. What a hassle for you.

Miriam

#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:52 PM

I used to go to a local fast food. They said "Hello", "Here you are" and "Have a nice meal". But it was obvious they were trained. It really turned me off.

IMHO, if they can't say anything, then so be it. I understand its their job and I don't want to talk with everyone I meet. I came here to eat, I eat and leave. They make business. While it is very startling not to get a human response or a welcome, I totally understand that.

Now, if you really want to make your employees greet the people eagerly, pay them in buckets. Give them a reason to be happy working and they'll do everything naturally. No one will do anything if you don't pay him to do. This isn't training or youngster attitude or anything. It is money and survival. Why spend your energy, if you don't get anything in return?

Regardless, after I came back after a meal, pointed out that I took 3 portions, but paid for 2, paid the extra and left without saying a word, the give-out workers really started to recognize me and welcome me by themselves, not because they were trained to do so. Having an exotic order (triple rice, no meat) helped, a bit, but not as being honest with the workers. (Truth be told, I was a very demanding customer, since as a vegan, I only could take 2-3 meals out of 20, but that's another story).

#7 bwelford

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 11:14 PM

It's all rather sad really. Obviously training is important. However once you get used to smiling and being friendly to people, you find it gets reflected back to you. The rewards you'll get from most people in recognition and appreciation will far outweigh any extra 'effort' needed to be welcoming to people.

Even if the management didn't want to push the theme, any individual can do their own thing and likely good things will result for them.

#8 swainzy

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 11:20 PM

A.N.Onym,

I am going to respectfully have a different opinion/take on it (and hopefully I haven't misunderstood you):

Now, if you really want to make your employees greet the people eagerly, pay them in buckets. Why spend your energy, if you don't get anything in return?



Getting something in return isn't always the goal. Sometimes people do things because it's right even when no one is watching. Being welcoming to other humans is good business practice.

Give them a reason to be happy working and they'll do everything naturally



Should the owner motivate the employees or just set the tone? Maybe both. Maybe it depends on the job (?).

I wouldn't give my employees money in buckets until they showed me they were worth it. It is they that must earn respect and money.

If they want to get ahead in thier company then I suggest they do what their boss tells them to do (which refers to my original point which is the boss/owner sets the tone in the company). Then at some point the employee can show initiative and look for extra things to do to earn more respect and more responsibility. Then come the buckets of money. ;-)

#9 SEOigloo

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 11:51 PM

since as a vegan, I only could take 2-3 meals out of 20, but that's another story

:kicking:

Yuri! I didn't know that. Me too, since I was a kid. :)


Sorry if that was way off topic, Donna.


I agree with points both Donna and Yuri are making. Low pay or bad working conditions certainly don't create happy employees. At the same time, it seems like one makes a personal decision to be polite in a business setting, whatever the numbers are on the paycheck.

You know, my husband and I became patrons of a gas station on the other side of town because we like the fellow who works there so much. This man is so incredibly friendly. We've learned his name, talked about where he's from, talked about his favorite music. He shakes our hands when we see him. We met his boss recently and he was a very gracious man, apologizing that he was out of stock on something, remembering us when we came in again and telling us he'd gotten it in. Because of these 2 fellows, we go a town over to get gas whenever we can. That's how much I like their customer service.

Miriam

#10 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 12:22 AM

At the start of the work, when one has plenty of energy to work for a salary and to show what he/she can do, yes, being polite is a must. But if after 3-6 months of work the employees do not get a raise and are left to work for meagre payment for a while, they get tired. Tired of telling hundreds of people "Hello" and "Have a nice meal".

Of course, there are a few people that can be polite regardless, but after thousands of repetitions, it really takes plenty of effort to be polite on the job.

Likewise, if you, as a business owner, want to have polite employees, you need to invest in them. If you don't invest in them, they won't be happy. If they aren't happy, they can't be polite.

Sure, you may go your own route and pay only those, who are truly polite w/o being paid for it, if that's your choice. But you'll be missing those, who need some motivation.

In this case, setting the tone, showing and being an example might work. Maybe other happy employees can show newcomers how to treat customers. Maybe you should also treat your employees alright to form good internal atmosphere. But either way, you need to put in some part of yourself in your employees to get something in return.

Expecting to only pay for something after you have been using it, is very naive and can be compared to not having advance payments in services or paying days after you get something from the shop.

#11 Respree

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 01:22 AM

Expecting to only pay for something after you have been using it, is very naive and can be compared to not having advance payments in services or paying days after you get something from the shop.


I'm not sure if geography is causing a difference in opinion, but I don't think I've ever met anyone who gets paid in advance.

If it were my employee, I'd say to them (as they were interviewing) is that it is your job to be the public face for our company. As such, we have a certain philosophy about the way we run our business. We serve our customers in the most expeditious, thorough and courtesy manner humanly possible. We'll train all our employees to be our public face, so that our customers receive a consistently favorable buying experience. We believe it is this favorable experience the creates loyal customers, who allow us to stay in business. Now, do you believe you're up to the task?

#12 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 02:10 AM

Garrick, we were speaking of a bit different aspects of payment, really.

If you explain the job of being polite to the employee and agree to pay for it, monthly, at the end of each month, fine. That's what I was talking about. I wasn't asking you to pay the month before the job.

On the other hand, it seemed like Donna was saying to pay only when the employee has him/herself, willingly, decided to get polite. I think that an employer should be more proactive on this issue, really.

#13 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 05:50 AM

Hmmm - seems to have shifted from "business proceedure let down" to "business social dynamics" ... cool :)

...swainzy...
It really sucks when a company cannot get it right - full stop. It doesn't matter if they are online or not, they should always take compaints/dissatisfaction seriously.

I think the point that ...A.N.Onym... may be making is that the same rule applies to staff as well as customers.
To many companies simply ignore any negatives, and assume it is the people at fault.
Disatisfied staff make unhappy customers.... which make unhappy staff... which make complaints from customers... etc.


If you ahve ever worked insales, you will see that this is a known phenomina, and exploited.
Daily prizes for top sellers - prizes forthe greatest imprvers, weekly bonsues for out performing requirements, Monthly do's... cheap trips, booze-cruises etc.
All to make the staff happy... as happy staff want to sell!


Another good example to look at is the forces support companies - those that do the data entry for accounts, logistics, bookings etc.
Those people are let loose - completely... you must work 7 Hours a day - between 7am and 7pm.
You must take at least 1/2 hour lunch.
Ifyou are found woreking more than an hour straight, you are told to go onto a 20 minute break.
They giveyou tea/coffee (+/- caffine), hot chocolate, fresh orange juice etc.
The canteen is ran by the forces, so the food is damn good, and very cheap (subsidised by the forces).
Normally, I could clear 2000 records a day - at that job, I was more than 4200 - and never a mistake!
You got up looking forward to work!



The main thought behind all of this -> If the company cannot treat their own staff properly... do you expect them to treat the public any better?

#14 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 12:13 PM

I can only second Autocrat's examples.

When I was working under an amicable boss, with good pay, I wanted to go to work every morning. In another case, I dreaded going to work and soon left (naturally). In the first case, my results were clearly outstanding, too.

The greatest example of investing in people is Google. I am sure you know what Google does to please its workers, so they could code/work better. They do that before a newcomer writes a single line of code, too.

#15 swainzy

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 01:28 PM

Yes, the topics are getting a bit mixed. I don't think I'm saying that the employees should'nt be treated with respect, they difinetly should be.

There are many different work environment examples but I hear you . . . . people are motivated when there is a something being offered or a carrot at the end of the stick. I still see that seperate (and I may have been the one to confuse the issue) from a boss setting the tone of his business and having employees being friendly or customer service trying to improve their business snags.
:(

#16 Fre_Entity

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 01:56 PM

this reminds me of this interesting article on sitepoint : Learn to Love complaining clients

one of things that got me the most was this :

If your business receives four complaints per year, you've probably had 100 dissatisfied clients. If you've had 100 dissatisfied clients, they've told 1,200 people that your product or service is poor!



#17 Respree

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 02:45 PM

Excellent article, Fre_Entity. Thanks for sharing that with us.

In the eight years I've been conducting business online, I can think of only a handful of complaints I've received.

Although I'll be the first to admit I'm far from being perfect, I cringe at each and every one. It makes me think long and hard about how I messed up, didn't deliver what I promised or said something the wrong way. It also gives me enormous concern about what the article points out that, without a doubt, there is a massive iceberg (of dissatisfaction and lost customers) beneath the water that cannot be seen.

I think for the average business owner, if sales are coming in, the issue of dissatisfaction often times goes unnoticed, thereby perpetuating the sub-par service and tragically sabotaging the potential of what loftier goals could have been achieved.

For me, I have a "We'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts" link. I want to hear what my customers have to say, both good and bad (especially the bad). If you don't know what the problem is, its difficult to solve it.

Edited by Respree, 14 November 2007 - 02:48 PM.


#18 bwelford

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 03:08 PM

The other side of this medal is that people in general don't like to complain. Most people find it stressful and you're probably going to upset the person who receives your complaint.

That's why if you really want to be sure that you are aware of customers dissatisfactions, as Respree said, you've got to ask. Indeed you've got to show that you welcome the complaint. So you may wish to use words like this:
We want to be sure that buying from us has been a pleasurable experience. If we could have improved our service in some way, however little, please let us know. We'll thank you for it.

#19 AbleReach

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 04:22 PM

The other side of this medal is that people in general don't like to complain. Most people find it stressful and you're probably going to upset the person who receives your complaint.

Ahhh, but they do like to commiserate.

Sometimes the direct signals are sparse. A customer with a legitimate complaint will share the bad story with co-workers instead of the employee at fault or the employee's boss.

Sometimes they're bogus. A customer will "find" something in the last bite of their sandwich and demand another sandwich.

Sometimes employees will circle the wagons instead of listening.

My last fast food job, about 30 years ago (LOL), was for a place I'll call Taco Widget. They're still around as a chain. I was a teenager. One day as I was pulverizing a huge pan of meat, pounding in the spices, I heard a clatter. Looked up and saw that a co-worker had dropped her huge, just-cooked stock pot of refried beans on the floor in front of another stove. My shift mates were helping her scoop the beans back into the pot, so she wouldn't get into trouble for wasting the beans.

Having recently chased a pen out from behind that stove I knew how nasty the floor was. I said something to that effect, thinking that they just did not know. Blank stare.

I brought it up with our shift manager when she got back from break. Indignant response: my girls wouldn't do that; you're just trying to get better hours than them.

When I tried to talk to the owner I got fired for not being a team player.

The shift manager had total loyalty from her crew. I have no doubt that they'd covered for each other before. Did they know how bad they were? Doubt it. I don't think they thought they could afford to know how bad they were. The owner probably would have had the same response, even if he had believed me over the shift manager: better to fire a disgruntled employee than own up to serving customers beans that had been on the floor.

The moral to this story is that the folks in charge need to create a culture within which quality control is not an inconvenience or a threat.

#20 SEOigloo

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 04:48 PM

Elizabeth,
Where was Yelp when you needed it back then? :(
Miriam

#21 swainzy

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 05:52 PM

Donna was saying to pay only when the employee has him/herself, willingly, decided to get polite.

Need to clarify myself, not saying that at all. It was confusing as two different issues came up in the same post. Sorry. The employees always get paid. And the seperate point was - If they want to move up in the company, they should show initiative and catch my eye and respect as an employer/boss. That's all. I probably should have left that opinion out of this conversation.

You could solve the problem of unfriendly employees by putting them on commission - paid by their sales. But only in certain types of businesses.

Garrick and Barry stated it well for me. Garrick - We'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts" is such a good idea when you are shooting for complete customer satisfaction. I think part of human nature is the need to be heard or have your needs met.

You're business is a direct reflection of who you are.

On a personal note:

Heck, I had to greet people and say the same thing over and over for 14 years. Whether I was ill or not. In my b&b biz I had to put on a welcoming and friendly face and greet my guests no matter what. I have to admit - I got sick of saying the same thing and greeting the public by year 12 and made my husband check the guests in for the last two years. Holy cow. I figure I had at least/about 100 couples a year (two night minimum). :eek:

(Liz, that grosses me out about the spilled beans, actually you spilled the beans too, so to speak :( )

#22 Respree

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:07 PM

Liz, PM me with the Taco stand name. I think I wish to avoid eating there from now on. :(

#23 AbleReach

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:11 PM

@ Garrick - by now the owner and shift manager are retired or dead, I hope not of food poisoning!
The "girls" probably manage Donna's eyeglasses site...

#24 swainzy

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:07 PM

I digress

Restaurant Health Inspection Scores Online in the U.S.

#25 Respree

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 08:18 PM

I digress too.

Yesterday, one of my electrical sockets blew out.

I called an electrician today. These types of firms are typically small one-man shows, so I'm pretty sure I reached the owner.

Me: I've got a small electrical problem. How much do you charge per hour?

Owner: As much as I can.

[I heard him very clearly]
Me: I'm sorry, did you just say "As much as I can?"

Owner: Yes.

Me: We won't be doing business. [Click]

-------

It just boggles my mind the stupidity of some business owners. I find it very easy to understand how this kind of mentality trickles down to their employees. I'm sure he was only joking, but there was no joking inflection in his voice. It was also the first words out of his mouth.

I would love to have competition like that. It would make my job so much easier and my company shine in comparison. :)

Edited by Respree, 30 December 2007 - 06:55 PM.


#26 swainzy

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 08:31 PM

Garrick,

OMG!!! What a stupid thing to say. Thanks for sharing that because it's hard to believe.

#27 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 10:56 PM

ROFL. I thought no one in their right mind would say such a thing.

Elizabeth, recently I have literally Stumbled Upon a couple of psychological studies:
How and Why we lie to ourselves?
Why Groups and Prejudices Form So?

They are pretty telling about the human nature :)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 14 November 2007 - 10:57 PM.


#28 Thejspot

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 01:26 AM

The other side of this medal is that people in general don't like to complain.


Where are you working? I work for an IT company and people LOVE to complain. The company does email/website hosting, domain registration, online marketing and website design.

A lot of process in IT (like designing a website and optimising it) are not simple processes. I'm quite young, but the feeling I get from a lot of customers (and some people in this thread) the lament "why can't things just be simple?".... Uh... well we're not picking fruit here, we're playing with search engines which have had millions of dollars worth of research poured into making them complex.

In the example that started this tread, the people you were dealing with were clearly idiots. They have a great looking site because (as you say) they bought the business and probably the site too, but they don't know what they're doing.

The good news is, that we're living in a consumer driven market. If you don't get what they want, you have the ability to go somewhere else.

Is the site still up btw? Or have they gone out of business?

#29 bwelford

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 01:36 AM

Hi, Thejspot. Re "most people in general don't like to complain", perhaps I should have been more precise. The reality is that the complaints you get are only a small fraction of the complaints you should be getting.

Given the reaction I get from many large companies, I've largely given up complaining. It's a waste of time. So I take my business elsewhere and I make sure that I tell as many people as possible just how bad the service was. In extreme cases I've even been known to blog about it. :)

#30 Thejspot

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 01:47 AM

bwelford, ahhhh, that does make more sense. I love your idea of blogging about it. There is such justice in doing that!

#31 bwelford

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 02:04 AM

Glad you like that, Thejspot. I think that's what many large companies and agencies are only slowly realizing. The Internet levels the playing field considerably. If you care passionately about an issue, then you can easily make a little noise on the blogosphere and find there are many kindred spirits just waiting for a chance to support a protest.

#32 SEOigloo

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 02:27 AM

Barry -
I got a visit within 48 hours from a rep from the Vermont Country Store when I blogged about them last week. That was sure fast. This is something I really like about blogging!:)

Miriam

#33 swainzy

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 09:29 PM

I was on the net looking for a coffee drink with NO caffeine (so I can drink it late at night). I found this site, which I am not affiliated with in anyway. It is a good example of inviting contact and being available to their customers in a friendly way.

We like to know what's on the minds of our customers and visitors. If you have information you'd like us to discuss on our site, or questions about Teeccino or our other products, please feel free to contact us! You can also contact the appropriate Teeccino staff member below for order tracking, order shipping, billing, wholesale, retail or website questions.


Plus it has listed the full team members and their emails for easy contact.
Way to go :thumbs:

#34 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 01:39 PM

I find that odd... as to my mind, I would have called that standard.
Most corporate brochure/invite packs are done no different.

Are most sites really missing such obvious things?

#35 rynert

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 02:55 PM

My happiest customers seem to be the ones that have had a problem - that problem is almost always down to either my supplier (i.e. what is in the box is wrong) or the courier (i.e. they do not deliver on time, or fail to leave a card)

I respond fast and put the problem right, with a little extra on top, as soon as I can.

The customers are over the moon with the (what must be unusual) great customer service from an online business.

I have had several people tell me that I am a credit to the company and my boss should give me a pay rise - Ii dont always let them know that I am the boss... lol

Not on an ego trip - there is nothing I do that is beyond the basics of putting something right - but the apparent shock when I do suggests that most dont!

#36 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 04:03 PM

It's actually worrying to see that so many companies (not jsu the net based ones) are so throughly lacking in basic service/suport features.

Then again, it just makes the good companies standout that little bit more, and means word of mouth is that much more valuable :)



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