Online customer serviceHave you ever shrugged off an irritating client? Maybe the client wasn’t even irritating, it was just that you became overwhelmed by the daily tasks of running your business. In the online world it can be pretty easy to let this happen, God knows I’ve been guilty of it and when a client calls you out it’s like a slap in the face.

Business owners who work mainly in the digital space may not see their customers face to face, but this does not mean that they should shirk on their customer service responsibilities. In fact, this infographic by Business2Community shows that a poor online experience will virtually guarantee that the customer will go elsewhere. In addition, over 80 percent of online customers require at least some type of customer service in order to make their order; this underlies the importance of service and in helping to create a positive customer experience.

Where online businesses might fall short

There are several ways that online businesses are less-than-stellar when it comes to customer service. One is when there is a problem with the order. While most clients will want to pick up the phone and call in to report a broken or missing item, some online businesses only offer an email option. After sending in a report about the issue, the customer then has to wait while the online business owner replies. In an effort to reach the company faster, the client might look up the online business on a social media site like Facebook and leave a comment on the company’s page. If the customer’s comment is not acknowledged in a fairly short amount of time, he or she will end up feeling ignored and unimportant, and will probably shop elsewhere next time.

In order to make the digital media shopping experience as positive as possible, online companies need to follow the lead of brick and mortar stores and boost their customer service policies and practices as much as they can. The following tips can help them to do just that:

Know your products inside and out

In a recent interview with Craig Ross of Apple Rubber, Ross said his engineers are highly experienced and can answer any question about his company’s products. As opposed to working with a distributor who might not be as knowledgeable about what they are selling, the staff at Apple Rubber knows and understands the products, and they can communicate clearly and effectively with their clients. With this in mind, online business owners should make sure that their employees are incredibly familiar with their entire product line, and are able to competently and confidently answer any and all questions that might come in from clients. In addition to providing them with training manuals, they might practice role playing phone calls from customers and also schedule in-house product training sessions.

Respond to customers as soon as humanly possible

For online businesses that rely on support tickets via email, owners should make a concerted effort to reply within 24 or so hours with a solution to the issue. In addition, the client should receive an automated message back letting them know that their message was received—this way they won’t end up wondering if their complaint is floating around in cyberspace. In addition, once the situation has been resolved, online business owners should consider going one step further and following up with their customer, just to make sure he or she is happy with the purchase and that there are no further issues.

Harness the customer service power of social media

Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook can be outstanding ways for online businesses to put a face and personality to their companies. Business pages should do much more than just provide basic information about the company and its products, it’s also a terrific way to engage with customers and help them get to know the company and its people, or so that’s what Fuel Online CEO Scott Levy says. In the case of the client who posts a comment about a faulty product, the online business owner should reply as quickly as possible right on the social media page, apologizing for the error and promising to make it right.