Setting up a customer service process for a brick and mortar business is easy. When you are dealing with customers face to face, its easy to see when you do something right – and when you don’t. Changing your policies is as easy as making sure the next customer is 100 percent satisfied with what you do.

Unfortunately, with the online sales process, it isn’t so easy. If someone doesn’t like your policies, they may choose never to visit again, and you simply don’t realize it. Or worse, they start spreading their dislike all over social sites like Facebook and Yelp, and you soon have a bigger mess than you ever considered.

While there are some things that you simply can’t predict, and some customers that simply won’t be happy no matter what you do for them, it is important that your plan includes policies for all else. Are you adequately correcting situations as they present themselves? Are you attempting to prevent poor service before it becomes a problem for your customers?

A lot of businesses use solutions from companies like Fusion to streamline their contact center so that they can deliver top-notch customer experiences to every one of their clients. Whether you do that or not, here are five other steps you can take to create a customer service policy that will leave your online customers feeling happy and well served.

1. An open line of communication

When you receive an email from your customer with a question or complaint, how fast are you answering it? In today’s fast pace world, people want instant gratification. When they have a question or concern, they want an answer now. If you have an area for online support, make sure you are following up in a reasonable manner. Check in several times per day, or better yet, have a customer service person check online consistently for customer issues. The sooner you respond and take action, the less stress your customer will feel.

2. Take responsibility

If your customer is having trouble using your product, is this the first complaint? If you find customers complaining time and again on similar issues, you may be the problem. Are you describing your product in the right way? Does it do what it claims to do? Refine your FAQ or summary pages, and answer questions before they occur. And when you know you are at fault for what the customer is complaining about, apologize and offer recourse. Sometimes just the acknowledgment is enough.

3. Speed is everything

This applies to all rules of customer service, from initial inquiries to complaints and final issues. People want to know you’ve received their message, and that they are a priority to your company. An autoresponder system can allow an instant message to go out stating you have received their question/comment and will respond shortly. Then make sure you pick up messages regularly and handle the problems as fast as possible. Even if you are working on a solution and it may take some time, stay in touch. Even just a sentence or two saying “we haven’t forgotten you” can calm a customers nerves.

4. Provide more than one way to connect with you

You may love email and form generators so that you don’t have to available to your clients by phone. But does that satisfy your customers’ needs? What if they’ve sent several messages and feel like you aren’t answering the real problem – a phone call may disarm the problem in minutes rather than letting it build over hours or even days. Remember, customer service is designed to make your customers happy; not provide you with conveniences.

5.Avoid bad experiences

Take extra steps today to avoid problems down the road. For instance, have you ever found the perfect product and ordered it, only to find out through email a few hours later that the item is out of stock? Keep your site up to date, and put in all details whenever possible. If you can anticipate what your customer wants, use that knowledge to over-deliver along the way. You’ll impress your customers, which will help you grow over time.

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