All retailers have the same fear – customer complaints. Whether it’s about the product, customer service, hidden fees or slow shipping if you don’t address and solve the issue immediately it could damage the brand’s reputation for years.
Luckily, you can avoid some of most common pitfalls and complaints with a little bit of foresight and solid understanding of your customers’ needs. Although some unexpected problems may still arise they’ll be few and far between if you follow the tips below. If you do end up getting complaints, try to view them as a way you can improve your business.
The Source of Customer Complaints
It might sound obvious, but customers complain because they are frustrated. What you need to do is understand the root of their frustrating. It isn’t just because they cannot do something, it’s because something about their experience doesn’t match their expectation. They performed some action and the result didn’t go they way they thought it would.
These moments can happen anywhere in their shopping journey. For example, maybe some fees pop up at the end of their checkout experience or they cannot find a product they want. Even worse, maybe an order they placed never arrived.
In order to avoid these sticky situations you need to anticipate and get rid of these potential frustrations so you customers can find and purchase your products with ease.
The Most Common Reason For Customer Complaints
While you may not be able to foresee every single issue a customer might have, there are a couple things that will always leave customers dissatisfied. If you can address these potential issues from the beginning you will able to avoid critical reviews and instead have more happy customers.
As mentioned above, the biggest reason customers complain is due to a disconnect between expectation and reality. This means you need to make sure that what they expect is closely aligned to the actual outcome. Below are some of the most common complaints and ways your business can solve them before you even receive a negative response.
As an eCommerce retailer, you’ve probably heard customers ask, “Where’s my order?” Unlike traditional brick and mortar stores, your customers will not be able to pay and take the product home with them immediately. They will need to wait 3-5 business days until their order arrives. If it takes longer or doesn’t show up, you can expect the complaints to roll in.
The easiest thing you can do to keep customers in the loop is offer tracking when possible. This gives them the ability to keep an eye on the delivery in real time and offers a more realistic view of when it will arrive. If they don’t receive the product at all, they can see exactly where in the cycle the issue occurred and contact the delivery service and/or you promptly to explain.
Rather than have your customers go to USPS or Fedex to track their packages, you can offer a status update directly on their order page. For example, USPS offers live updates on the package’s journey and apps like Tracktor offers full delivery updates and real time maps for almost all major carriers.
Out of Stock Items
If you’re a successful ecommerce store, chances are you’ve run into problems with your supply. If something is out of stock, it’s up to you to let your customers know so they don’t go all the way through the checkout journey only to realize the product they wanted isn’t available. You can update your online inventory manually or you can use an app to manage this automatically.
Inaccurate Product Photos or Descriptions
Your customers don’t have the luxury of physically seeing and trying out your product before they make a purchase. That’s why good product photos and descriptions are so important to ecommerce stores – they give customers an idea of what they are getting. Make sure all of your product descriptions include the dimensions, materials and sizing charts to give customers an idea of what to expect. Also, keep these pictures and descriptions updated whenever you end up making changes.
The key here is to be as transparent as possible. Make any notes of quirks of your products especially with clothes. Does it run small or large? Make a note. For added transparency, enable customer reviews. It gives potential customers a look at what other people think and it also shows that your company is open to feedback.
Poor Website Usability
A poorly designed site not only leads to complaints but lost customers. Look at your site through the eyes of a new visitor. Is it easy for them to find exactly what they are looking for? How easy is it for them to make a purchase? If you run into problems, it’s likely your customers are having the same issues. Make sure you organize all of your products in easy to understand categories.
Okay so maybe your desktop site is easy to navigate, but have you optimized your site for mobile? Mobile commerce makes up 30 percent of all US ecommerce and is only expected to grow. Considering that nearly 30 percent of mobile users will navigate away if it takes too long to load or can’t immediately find what they are looking for, you are looking at a lot of lost business. Of course, the same is true of desktop users as well. The longer the load times, the more likely potential customers will be to navigate to a competitor.
If you’ve got a brick and mortar store, make sure to include important information like your phone number, address, hours of operation and social media links.
Managing Customer Complaints
Of course, there will be times where even after all of this planning something still goes wrong. When this happens, it’s up to you to address the problem graciously and offer customers not only an explanation but a solution as well. Your customers are the lifeline of your ecommerce store so in order to maintain their trust you need to make sure you really understand their complaint and approach it with empathy.
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