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Expectations

23 Feb

Wink wink nudge

Originally uploaded by CleverIndie

The more I read on various message boards about customer service – from both sides of the transaction- the more I realize that the primary role of customer service is not actually the service role, but a very different one that begins the moment the customer walks through the door (brick and mortar or virtual).

Customer satisfaction and good customer service are usually a direct result of setting customer expectations and then meeting those expectations.

In my old career of providing customer service for large corporations, I discovered that the dissatisfied customers were the ones who had unreasonable expectations that could not be met or those who had reasonable expectations that had not been met. From first contact to last, all interactions with the customer are building expectation.

Companies begin building expectation by choosing a specific location for their storefront. The build expectation through their logo design, their reception area, even the ease of navigating their phone system when you call to ask a question- before the customer and company ever exchange paper, the expectations are being set.

Some expectations are assumed, they are ingrained in our culture- whether that culture is our specific location in the world, our language, or the type of business we engage in. But beyond the cultural expectations, everything else should be set by the company, and expressed effectively.

When this doesn’t happen, people get mad. People share their anger with their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and with the blooming of the internet and it’s blogs and message boards, masses of strangers and near-strangers. The sharing of information has made company reputation somewhat precarious. There is the old scenario of someone having a bad meal at a restaurant and telling a friend, who then tells a friend, who tells a friend… Today that one person may mention the terrible meal on their blog, and instantly that information is open to everyone- that one person they told, could be 30 people in that first day – who tell 30 more people…Or it could be tens of thousands of people, who remember the negative review while making small talk with tens of thousands of their friends. Bad news is viral.
There is the argument that any publicity is good publicity, but still bad news is viral.

You want people to take the chance with your company, with your product, with you, as a small business you may be less likely to afford to lose potential customers based on one person’s negative experience.

What uses more energy? Putting out fires or preventing them?

Preventing the fires (from negative customer experience to bad press) is difficult, it’s a multifaceted, never-ending process, but once the process of identifying, setting, and meeting expectations is put into place, the results can be quite spectacular.

My first suggestion is to start a small notebook to brainstorm.

Be mindful of your start to finish experience when engaging as a customer with similar businesses. In my case, I took note of my experiences with companies such as Amazon.com and my experiences purchasing goods from sellers on ebay and on Etsy…it doesn’t have to be the same type of goods…Actually, I find that an assortment of experiences work best- a broader range of expectations and goods, and in these difficult financial times, it’s something you can study without breaking the bank, while purchasing necessities for your family and business.

If you take an experience from start (realizing you need to buy a specific widget to having the widget in your hands) to finish and really dissect the experience- from why you chose to buy the widget from that particular place to what you expected from the experience before it even began, and how any expectations changed and why during the experience, and how your expectations were met and not met and how things could have been done differently to have met all of your expectations.

Many people consider customer service to be an entity, something that comes into play only after a negative product or service experience. The more time I spend on both sides of all transactions, I realize that the most important responsibility of customer service runs throughout the customer experience. In a time of job cuts, and corporate customer service having a negative association (people almost expect bad customer service from most companies these days, regardless of their actual experience with the specific company), we really do need to examine why customer service has earned this association, and ultimately I keep coming back to the concept of expectations.

The best way to understand the areas you need to address, as far as setting, expressing, and meeting them in your own business, is to take a very close, and very focused look at your experiences as a consumer, and as a provider of goods and/or services in regards to expectations throughout the customer experience.

In the coming weeks I will be taking a closer look at my experiences with expectations, I would love to hear some of yours as well…

Best wishes!
Bek

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HOW TO: Offer Multiple Shipping Options on Etsy.com

21 Dec

UPDATE:  5/4/2012… Apparently this no longer works.  I will keep this post up on the blog but it has been reported to me that this method no longer works as Etsy has rolled out and is continually rolling out new seller/checkout/shipping features…This was from way back when, in the very early days of Etsy…. I guess I’ll keep it here for historical reference…

UPDATE: 1/27/2011…  Not sure that this works with the newer Etsy checkout… Anyone want to try it?  Report your results in the comments section please!  Merci!

(UPDATED with international info…It’s at the end of the post)

Here is how I am offering multiple shipping options without the whole “convo me” and paypal invoice thing…

I read the article in the storque about setting up paypal so that transaction shipping info would be taken from the etsy transaction and brought to paypal…

I thought, “hey ,why can’t I do the reverse to use paypal’s shipping features when the customers are in the paypal portion of checking out”…

So…Here’s how I did it.
I went into paypal and clicked profile(under “my account”)

Under “selling preferences” I clicked “shipping calculations”

Here you can add methods…Each method gets a line, so you can customize what is charged.

For example, for my goods, and in my Etsy shop I have the base shipping (on domestic US) as:
$2.75 ($0.50 if shipped with another item)…
So for each entry in my standard shipping profile in PayPal I would put items 1-1 $2.75, 2-2 $3.25, 3-3 $3.75 4-4 $4.25 and 5+ $4.75….

Then I can also add a profile for Overnight and 2 day…

But for those it’s flat rate regardless of quantity (you can also do all of this by weight or dollar amount, but you need to stay consistent with your etsy listings, so doing it by quantity makes sense for most sellers…

Remember, your etsy listing is your agreement with your customer, you cannot go charging some bizarro number in paypal shipping….

To handle this I have explained in my listings what the listed shipping price is for (usps first class) and that other options are available when completing their payment in paypal…I also list those methods and their charges in my listing so nobody is confused and thinks everything ships fedex upgraded for free….

My etsy shipping charge does equal the “standard” shipping charge in my paypal profile.

Now, when setting this up, there is an important box in each little shipping method/profile that you set up…

It says:
Use the shipping fee in the transaction instead of my calculator’s settings:

If you click this, it will use the amount you specified in Etsy.  If you leave it blank, your customer should be able to choose their shipping method (if you have multiple methods…if you only have one method, and do not want to offer speedier shipping then you probably should just disregard this post as you don’t need to do this…

( Here’s the article that got me moving in this direction:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/customer-care-how-to-for-sellers-shipping-costs-and-paypal-399/ )

I do think it is important to explain to the customer what your listed shipping is for and that they have choices once they are in paypal…

Also, if you are shipping fedex, you will need your customer’s phone number for the airbill… I chose “optional” for the phone number request in “Website Payment Preferences” under paypal/profile for the time being…

I really hope this helps someone!

I wish I had figured this out sooner!

I do have to update my listings (take out the date specific/holiday stuff) but I think it gives a good picture of how I am managing this idea for my own shop….You can see it here: CleverGirl.Etsy.com

Hugs!

xo

Bek

NOTE:  This is for domestic US shipping.  I believe the international shipping could be tweaked the same way but the parameters of shipping various goods to international destination is quite varied.  The method outlined here is how I am doing it. Your Mileage May Vary.  No guarantees, warrantees implied.  Not responsible if problems occur. Etc… Basically: here’s what I did, you can try it to, if you want to, but if it doesn’t work for you then I am not responsible.  Everyone has very different needs, requirements, goods which may make this method ineffective or impractical… I may have skipped steps. I tried not to, but things happen….   I will answer questions if I can, but I am swamped.  The best teacher is experience…It’s worth investigating all of the details before commiting to anything…  (and I am not tech support…I am a silversmith…) Sorry if this sounds harsh…. Hugs! Peace! Love all around!

INTERNATIONAL: For international orders I have two shipping profiles in Etsy, one for goods that are priced above $50 and one for those that are below $50,  due to importation requirements for most countries… So in this case, I chose to use the information from the etsy.com transaction to override shipping options in paypal.  PayPal allows different options for domestic and international- including which info is used… hope this helps…

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MULTIPLE SHOPS:  I have not tried this for multiple shops… If you try it and have success(or failure, as long as we can learn from it) with multiple shops let me know and I’ll post an update here , or blog about it and I’ll post the link… I cannot even wrap my head around the basic logistics of two shops right now, so in the interest of my sanity and accurate information, I’m taking  hands off approach to that one…

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