The customer comes first, even in an online business and that is the most important asset in your business; your customer base. What you do for the customer is more important then what they do for you.
This section will cover good business practice and how to treat your customer right.
The Customer Comes First
Good service will go a long way and is perhaps one of the most cost effective methods to retain a customer.
Having a pledge to your customers is an excellent way to not only let you customer know what to expect from you, but it can serve as a guideline for you and your employees on how to treat them.
Writing A Customer Pledge
The pledge can be as short or as long as you want and it can be specific or vague but it has to be honest.
Write about what makes your service special and how you stand out from the competitors. Explain how you view the customer and how important serving them is to you.
Mention what you will and won’t do for customers and make it clear.
Policies, Policies, Policies
A customer service pledge is not the only policy your website will need.
Some policies are mandated by the government so be careful when writing it out (you must have these policies written out and kept somewhere).
You should also have them on your website to prevent misunderstandings and law suits.
The information you gather includes cookies and other tracking data.
It should include information about what information you gather, how you use it, and who you share it with.
Terms Of Serviceass
Also known as a “user agreement” or “terms and conditions”.
Many membership sites ,where you have to register, will include this during the registration process (a TOS is important if you want to avoid getting sued for actions taken by users).
The TOS should indicate how users can and cannot use the site, also legal issues, who are allowed to use the site, and any other rule you may require.
This section should indicate how and when customer orders will be handled and shipped.
There are FTC rules to comply with in regards to shipping and handling. Here are the rules:
- You must ship the product as stated on your website.
- You must ship the product within 30 days after the order has been received, unless an earlier timeframe is specified.
- You must notify the customer ASAP if you’re unable to fulfill the order.
- You must allow the customer to agree to any delay or to be able to cancel the order and specify the amount of time required to be refunded.
- You must include a correct and revised shipping date if there is a delay.
The return policy should be clear and specific as there are always a few people who will take advantage of you. The return policy is made to not only protect you, but also your customer.
The return policy should clearly state the conditions by which a customer is allowed to return a product and how they will be refunded.
The return policy should state:
- The time limit in which the owner has before they’re no longer able to return the product.
- You’re right to reject a returned item if it shows obvious signs of use.
- The fees associated with returning and restocking the items.
- Exactly what can and cannot be returned.
- You should state who will pay for shipping and handling on the returned item.
- Will the customer receive cash or store credit?
- If you sell other businesses products you must direct the customers to their return policy.
To avoid having people take advantage of your return policy, minimize the days in which they can try the product.
Protecting Young Users
If you live in the USA you’ll have to follow the rules of the FTC’s COPPA which mandates that if your website is targeted to children under 13 you must follow a certain set of rules:
- You must get the parents’ permission before collecting information and you must explain to them how and what you collect.
- You must keep all the information private and confidential.
COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)
Other Policies To Consider
Ultimately, policies can protect you from being sued and they’ll help prevent misunderstandings and issues.
Many websites will include policies for forums and chat rooms, exporting and Importing, spam and Email subscriptions, and Linking to and from other sites.
Keeping Your Word
It’s not enough to write your policies and be idealistic; you actually have to do what you say.
Not doing what you promise will bring down your reputation and trust among your customers.
Many of the policies are government mandated so failing to follow these rules, may have big consequences, don’t take your chances. These policies are also there to keep you protected from being sued. So do what you say and keep out of hot water.
If for whatever chance you are not able to meet the standards when serving a customer: notify the customer ASAP, apologize, correct the issue, and offer the customer a refund, credit, or discount.