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Provide Strong SupportA certain unnamed chain restaurant forever lost my business several years ago.  This company can try to entice me with whatever promotions they want, but after several of the worst customer service experiences in my life, I will never go back.

The point is that you can design a great webpage to sell a wonderful product, but if you don’t back it up with strong customer service then you will lose business.

You can’t maintain a business long term without satisfied customers.  All of the work you put into building positive relationships with your base can all come undone with one vocal, angry customer.  While a happy customer may advocate for your business to a handful of friends, an unhappy customer will be much more likely to speak out and take action.

A dissatisfied customer will tell everyone he or she knows to stay away. He or she may post negative comments and reviews online that may turn away potential customers for years.

Make sure that you provide your visitors with an optimal user experience by taking the time to invest in and implement a strong customer support system for your online business.

Here are a few tips below to get you started:

*Acknowledge Your Customer

Good customer service starts with acknowledgement of the customer.  Utilize an autoresponder to thank your customers for their orders.  Don’t just leave them wondering if the website placed the order correctly, confirm that you received their transaction and provide them with further information on how they can track their order or follow-up on any issues.  For an added touch, customize your automated responses with a bit of your brand personality.   This will not only help ease any anxiety that your client may have with the sale, but will also help build and solidify your relationship with your customer, greatly improving the odds of a return visit.

*Create a FAQ Page

A well-written and comprehensive FAQ page can answer most of your customer inquiries.  Consider all of the general questions your customers may possibly ask.  Think about shipping rates, shipping locations, return policies, guarantees, replacement parts, additional accessories, etc.   By directing customers to these easy answers, you can focus on supporting those facing more difficult issues.

But beware of overreliance on an FAQ page, however.  If your customers feel that you have coldly and mechanically referred them to a page that they have already read or does not answer their question, they will feel ignored and unvalued.  Take time to handle all inquiries seriously and helpfully or once again risk the event of an upset customer taking his or her anger to the Internet review boards.  On the flipside, though, even the most frustrated client can turn his or her opinion around as a result of your dedicated time and effort to resolve his or her problem.

*Have an Easy-to-Find Contact Page

Here’s one of my personal pet peeves.  When I want to contact a company with an inquiry or issue, I want to find how to do so on the webpage quickly and easily.  By hiding this information, or not supplying it at all, you send the message to your customers that their feedback does not matter.  Even worse, it may imply that you know you have a faulty service or product and you purposely make it difficult for your customers to do anything about it.

If you provide a quality product or service you should have nothing to fear from customer contact.  How can you expect to build a strong loyal base with your customers without ever engaging with them?  With all of the possibilities of communication these days via social media, online forms, live chat, instant messenger, e-mail, and yes, even the telephone, you have no reason to not have a viable means of communication with your customers.  Show that you care about your customers and then they’ll begin to care about you.

*Ask for Feedback

Again, don’t have fear of your customers.  Without them, you would have no business.  Check in regularly to gauge their overall satisfaction.   Perhaps offer surveys or elicit suggestions for improvements on your social media platforms.  Even if nothing fruitful comes from these recommendations, the mere act of engaging your base and giving them a voice will go along way in customer relations.  Most people just want to be heard.  Simply by listening you may gain loyal, long term fans who feel apart of your brand and values.

*Deliver on Your Promises

Finally, one of the easiest ways to keep your customers satisfied is to follow through on what you promised them.  Whether it’s the initial sale, a return, a reply back, or any other action in which your customer will wait on your response, meet your obligations.  Do what you say you will do.  It’s as simple as that.  While you may have a multitude of customers to monitor, your customers have only one of you and they pay attention.  If you tell them that you will do something and you don’t, they will feel personally slighted, especially if they had issues to being with.  Most customers just need a sales experience with minimal hassles to feel satisfied.  Start out on a good foot and do right by them the first time.