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Conversations with Customers

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Posted March 8, 2002 By Robyn Greenspan     Feedback

While most e-businesses have finally realized how important it is to cultivate relationships with customers, few have actually engaged in reciprocal dialog with shoppers.

While most e-businesses have finally realized how important it is to cultivate relationships with customers, few have actually engaged in reciprocal dialog with shoppers. E-tailers send relevant personalized messages to customers, and customers can ignore them or respond with sales or feedback, but rarely is there a back-and-forth, two-way conversation between the seller and the buyer.

Few e-business owners, and Internet shoppers for that matter, have extended time to engage in lengthy conversations, but there are methods for inspiring some quick phone and e-mail dialog that will help foster the relationship between both parties.

Start by calling your disgruntled customers since you can probably learn the most about your site from them, acting quickly to head off any unfavorable comments they may make to others about your business. Apologize for any legitimate dissatisfaction they may have experienced and ask for input on how the site can be improved. Designate them as special customer service cases and ask if you can contact them periodically to discuss their shopping experiences. Also, give them your direct phone number or e-mail address so they can contact you immediately with any problems or concerns.

When phone calls are not convenient, send personal e-mails to selected customers inquiring about their orders. Ask about the merchandise or services they purchased from you - have they encountered any problems; would they be interested in learning about product changes or upgrades; do they need any special training, would they be willing to be part of a customer service task force, etc. Also, let customers know if something they bought has been recalled or there are safety issues that they should be aware of.

The best way to engage customers in conversation is to be sincere and genuine. Toss the telemarketing script and sales pitch aside, and legitimately inquire about their shopping satisfaction and ideas for improvement. Be a good listener, take notes, and keep the call or e-mail on topic. Contacts and correspondence should be individualized, with references to specific products they bought or complaints they made.

If a quick sales boost is your main objective for talking to customers, your efforts will be transparent. But if you are sincerely concerned about customer satisfaction and site improvement, increased revenue will likely be the ultimate result.

Reprinted from ECommerce Guide

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