Thursday, June 10, 2010

Indie Artists Sharing Their Customer Service Experience

When there are THOUSANDS of you out there making something like what you make… maybe making it cheaper and faster, what is going to bring your customer BACK?  A sale is the goal but a return customer is the ultimate compliment. More often than not, customer service is the magic ingredient that will bring your buyers back… here are the insights and tried and true customer service tips & tricks from those in the independent artist’s field.
Jennifer Kos 

Please visit these artist’s shops to see their beautiful products:

***To me, customer service is key to a good business. In other words, the customer is always right, even when they're not. A personalized relationship with customers is very important and they need to feel comfortable with returning something they didn't like, especially when it comes to jewelry, which is very tactile.

***One of the biggest things to separate similar businesses from each other anymore is customer service. And, these days, it's not only about 'service with a smile', but building those relationships both in person and in 'cyber space'. More than ever now, people need to know you'll stand by your products and your services (i.e.- repairs, etc.) but they are also looking for that 'personal touch', that intimate connection with you that makes them feel special. When they realize the value in your products/services and they benefit from this wonderful customer service/relationship that you've built with them, you're on your way to having a 'customer for life!'

( I have to brag on this next artist – she is 14  and kick BUTT awesome :) 

***Customer service is so important you want your customers to come back and not to be scared away I mean are goal is to make great relationships with are customers and to make sales
Well when I eventually get sales I will include bluebucks or coupons and I’ll also keep in touch with them and give special deals to return customers and most importantly just be kind and courteous to them remember the golden rule it applies to sales too

***I'd have to say communication is one of the biggest areas of my customer service. Not just the actual "ACT" of communicating-but really LISTENING to what my customers/clients are saying and asking for. Trying to bring what a customer is envisioning to life thru merely written words can be sorta tuff sometimes (and even TOUGHER if they're really not sure WHAT they want LOL!), but really concentrating on my customers requests helps to simplify what most customers fear would be a very confusing and difficult process.

*** 1) Listen first, then ask questions 2) Always assume they are right in their mind 3) Perception is reality, regardless of logic 4) Never loose your cool, and always take the upper pathway 5) Never appear or sound as if you are not paying attention or worse minimizing their outreach/inquiry/issue 6) Remember when you have been in their shoes...."

***My customer service tip - Treat them all the same all like real people. No one wants to be seen as a number or as money in the bank. Chat with them, invite them to join your newsletter, anything to make them feel special.
We treat our customers as great new friends and always enclose something extra with their purchase along with wrapping the packages in tissue with ribbon and enclosing a personalized handmade handwritten thank you note. We want our customers to feel like they have been shopping in an elegant boutique, so we package our items accordingly. We frequently get e mails back thanking us for the fast shipment as well as the careful and beautiful packaging.

When there is a problem with checkout or other problem we are willing to spend whatever amount of time it requires to resolve the issue in a courteous, friendly and timely manner. There have been a couple of times when there have been issues with the checkout process that have required some back and forth working step by step through the issues, but in the end everything worked out fine. Afterwards we have received e mails thanking us for being so willing and helpful in working through the problem with them.

We also notify our customers several days before we make a sale public so that they have the first chance to snap up a few bargains. On occasion we also send them an e mail with an exclusive Coupon Code that is not made public and is strictly for customers who have already purchased from us in the past.

Overall, the "Golden Rule" always applies, we treat our customers in the same manner we want to be treated when we are customers!

Ruth and Marilyn
Two Artisan Sisters Studio

***All items purchased are put in separate gift boxes tied with ribbon. I always put a invoice in the package and I e-mail another thank you and the tracking # for their package. I even follow the tracking # myself and e-mail customer where it is in transit.  I also offer a 10% of all future orders paid through PayPal after first purchase.  As we all know, Customer Service is so Important~~


***I always communicate well with my customers so they know that they are important to me.  I email them to say "Thanks!" for their order, process all orders urgently, package them carefully and send a little personal letter in their parcel thanking them again for choosing to purchase their special item off me!  I email my customers to let them know their parcel is safely on its way.   If the customer has requested custom made beads/spacers etc, then I usually send more beads than was originally ordered, keeping them up to date with progress of the bead making process.  I also reward my customers for spending larger amounts of money by popping in little gifts to their parcel - they love it and makes me feel good too!   I answer any question my customers ask of me and freely share my knowledge on colour, design and general "how to or where do I ?." stuff.   It costs nothing to be courteous and I treat my customers the way I like to be treated - nicely and with respect.  

***One disadvantage of selling online is the lack of face-to-face communication with your buyers. There is so much room for miscommunication simply because the non-verbal clues are kept out of the conversation (and there is only so much that an "LOL" or smiley can do) so i try make sure that any communication sent out carries an engaging yet professional tone and that replies to questions or requests are made within the soonest time possible.
a customer wants to be updated about his/her order so sending out a short note via email to advise them about the status of their order is a must for me. delays, if any, are communicated promptly.
I am also flexible when it comes to requests – I will resize an item for a customer, make one just like what is displayed in the colors they would like. Also, if there is anything else i can do to make the transaction go well (nothing illegal though LOL), i will always do my best to go that extra mile for my customer.

So now not only have you had the chance to visit a few new artist’s shops…but you know the ones that are going to make your shopping experience stellar… BUY INDIE - Support those who LOVE what they do.

Jennifer Kos 

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