Using Good Customer Service Systems

4th quarter is the time of year where most of us are extra busy, rushing to get orders out the door!  As a producer, I understand the rush of the holiday season!

To save time during the busies weeks, we take an inventory of all our products, supplies and shipping materials in September.  The last thing we want to do is realize that we are out of packing material or shipping boxes in the middle of the rush!

On the other side of the equation, as a retailer, I am ordering products for my on-line store, Tastes of Idaho.  Most of the companies we work with are long time vendors — most are or have been lines I repped for sometime in the last 12 years.  This year, we are expanding our site, so I am contacting some new Idaho vendors.  And, honestly, I am shocked at the lack of follow through with these potential vendors.  Granted, we are not Walmart or Costco, but we do move lots of product for a state-focused website.

So, as a reminder to other producers, here is some guidelines for responding to customer communications of any kind (taken from my first eGuide, The Complete eGuide for Selling to Gift Shops:

• Return phone calls the day received, or no later than the next morning. The CompleteGuidetoSellingtoGiftShopsAcknowledge the request or concern with an immediate call back even if the solution is not immediately available. And let them know your best estimate of when the issue will be answered or resolved.
• Answer emails daily, and within 24 hours of receiving them. Email can turn into a time waster, so schedule breaks once or twice a day to manage your emails.
• Process and ship orders within 7 working days, two days is better.
• Mail out information requests the next day (or the next day you are in your office) … your customer will be just as prompt about ordering, as you are about meeting their information needs!
• After mailing information requests, follow up ASAP… a couple days after you think they got the packet, or no later than the Monday following. If you take too long, they may find a competitor, lose interest, or even forget about your line.
• Remember, the longer it takes you to respond to a customer – for any reason – the less important they feel.

We have a small group of producers to chose from for our Tastes of Idaho website, so I will continue to work with these vendors, but I understand know why so many our of customers tell us we give good customer service — so many others just don’t understand the important of quick service!

Okay ….. end of rant!!

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