One of the most fascinating things that I find about online shopping is the anonymity that is involved — on both sides. Often, a customer buys from a small business online that they may not know a lot about . . . they buy because it’s the best price, or it’s a specialty product that is not readily available, or because the website design is sophisticated, well-branded and thus, trustworthy.
On the small business side, you never know who is going to frequent your website, or call in, and what a positive or negative transaction might do for your business. Thus, it makes sense to have uniformity in how you deal with customers, both online and off. But still, you or one of your employees can have the occasional bad day and make a customer service error. It is unfortunate that this negative experience can be plastered on review sites and found by people Googling your company, who may believe this is typical of your business.
But this is the reality of doing business today, and you have to be ready for it.
I recently had an experience that really blew my mind in a positive way. I ordered a bedding package from a specialty small business in Wisconsin. I called in to ask a couple questions about the package listed on the website, and the owner, Susan, answered. As I was talking to her, she discovered that her webmaster had made an error and included something in the package that was incorrect — which dramatically impacted the value of the package price (to my advantage). When I realized this, I said oh, I understand . . . no problem at all! And she said no, I want you to get the deal, as that is what is on the website right now.
She didn’t have to do this, of course, and I was blown away by her magnanimity. She had her webmaster fix the error after we talked — but she still gave me this great deal — at Christmas, no less. I received the first part of the package a few days ago and the quality of her products is incredible — just amazing, how small businesses can deliver such quality that cannot be found from a mass manufacturer. The name of the company is SurroundEwe.com, it is a natural wool bedding company. This is a great small business, dedicated to quality and customers . . . and I was inspired to share this story.
Now you can see — the anonymity that I am speaking about can work to your advantage, or disadvantage. You never know when someone calling in may be involved in the press, or media . . . they could be a celebrity . . . you just don’t know when you are conducting business online.
So you should always put your best foot forward . . . make sure your Website is well-designed and professional . . . and that your customer service is true to your values. If you do this, a lot of people, regardless of whether they are famous or not, will talk about you in a positive way. This is the very best solution to the problem of the occasional bad day.