The following excerpt is from the Staff at Entrepreneur Media Inc. and Jason R. Rich’s book Start Your Own Etsy Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound
The following are 21 strategies an Etsy seller should implement on an ongoing basis to provide the best possible customer service:
1. Make yourself as accessible as possible. Display your email address and phone number prominently and repeatedly in your shop, and make it clear that questions are welcome. Then respond to inquiries as quickly as possible (within minutes or hours, not within days), especially if they’re received during normal business hours. When you do receive questions, make sure you address each question with a complete and kind answer (even if you believe the question is stupid) and personalize the communication.
2. Do your best to make each customer feel important and special. When communicating with them one on one, make them feel as if they have your complete and undivided attention.
3. Fulfill and ship new orders as quickly as possible and always within the time frame that you’ve promised.
4. Make sure all the content in your shop is written or presented in an upbeat, accurate and professional style that caters to your target audience. All the information you present, especially in your product descriptions, should be accurate and complete.
5. Anticipate your customers’ questions, concerns and needs, and present easy-to-understand answers and solutions in the Shipping and Shop Policies and/or FAQ section of your shop, as well as in your product listings.
6. Always maintain a professional demeanor in all communication with your shop’s visitors and customers, especially when the other person is upset and acts irrationally.
7. Check your work and avoid mistakes. Make sure your products are free of defects and high quality, and that all orders are filled correctly and adhere to the customer’s requests.
8. Once a customer places an order, stay in touch with them via email, letting them know the status of their order, the shipping details and exactly when they can expect to receive their order.
9. Make it clear that your customers are important to you, and be grateful for their support. You can easily convey this is in the “About” section of your shop as you tell your story, as well as in your profile. You can also show your appreciation by including a thank-you message when someone places an order and a short, personalized handwritten message within the package when shipping your product(s).
10. Promote your refund policy, exchange policy, money-back guarantee, shipping policies, warranties and any other important details that your customers need to know. This information should be displayed prominently and clearly. Be willing, however, to make exceptions in your customer’s favor when special circumstances arise. Be understanding and flexible.
11. Within the shop itself, use the phrase “Thank you” repeatedly, including on the welcome page and when confirming a new order.
12. Make your shop easy to navigate and keep it uncluttered. If you offer many products, organize them into well-labeled sections.
13. Promote the fact that you welcome everyone’s thoughts, feedback and suggestions, even if they’re not paying customers. If someone issues a complaint, thank them for bringing the matter to your attention and vow to address the situation immediately.
14. Beyond your Etsy shop, offer free content to your followers on social media that the people in your target audience will find informative, entertaining and valuable. Encourage ongoing, informal communication through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.).
15. Never harass a customer or prospective customer. If they opt into your email list, for example, use this communication sparingly, no more than once per week. Instead, encourage more frequent and informal communication through social media.
16. When a problem arises, address it immediately and do what’s necessary to make the customer happy so they don’t turn against you by posting a negative rating and review or publishing negative information via social media, for example.
17. If a package gets lost, damaged or stolen after you’ve shipped it, take responsibility. Track the package and talk to the shipper promptly so you can explain to the customer what happened and immediately send them a replacement. Then file the insurance claim with the shipper as needed. It’s your responsibility to deal with the shipper.
18. If you make a mistake, promptly apologize and go out of your way to fix the mistake. This might mean offering a partial or full refund, free shipping, an extra item in the customer’s order, and/or a big discount on a subsequent order. Acknowledge the mistake and take responsibility for it.
19. Assuming you’re proud and excited about operating your own business and believe it’s a privilege to be doing so, make this clear as you interact with visitors and customers.
20. When you package your products for shipping to each customer, create a positive experience for them as they open that package. In addition to a personalized (preferably handwritten) thank-you note, try to emulate the process of opening a gift to enhance the receiver’s experience. Consider using ribbons and tissue paper, for example, and focus on what the customer will see and feel as they open your package.
21. If you have a question for your customer about their order, obtain the answer before you proceed. Don’t guess. Take the time to contact the customer via email or telephone and ask them to clarify whatever is unclear or to provide whatever information they forgot to include with their order (such as a color or size choice, a proper shipping address or directions you need to create a custom order).
Starting the moment you begin creating your shop and developing the content for it, focus on every step of the experience that your visitors will have and do whatever possible to enhance it. Be sure to cater specifically to your target audience. What they see, how content is presented, the accessibility of information and the clarity with which you communicate are all important. Just as important is your own attitude and how you make people feel when they communicate with you via email or telephone.
Every person who visits your shop will have expectations. It’s important that their overall experience always meet or exceed those expectations, with no exceptions.