Customer Service: What they really want from you

The following is excerpted from a Resources article by Melissa Williams Netherton.

image via maribelmade on flickr

As the owner of an arts/crafts based business, it can be very easy to focus so much on the products you are creating that you may feel you don’t have time and can’t afford to attend to customer service in the way that a large business would.

The truth is, you cannot afford not to provide quality customer service.  Whether you are selling online, or at local craft fairs, you should make sure you understand what your customers really want from you.

They want to hear back from you!

When someone contacts you via your website or whether they call you, it is very important to get back to them within a reasonable time frame.  Every business is different, but between Monday and Friday, you should be contacting your customers back within 1 day.

If there is a problem, they want you to fix it

Having sales policies is a great idea to protect you in the case of a problem, but the fact is, if there is a problem with an order, your customer wants you to fix it. If you have a "no returns" policy and an unhappy customer, you may want to think of other ways to make sure that the issue can be resolved. While it is not necessary to bend your rules to fit a difficult person, try to be sympathetic to their situation and try to make right whatever you can.

Be clear about your shipping dates

When you sell online, people will be asking you all the time when they can expect to receive their packages.  Most handmade artists make products when ordered, and if this is the case with your products, make sure you specify that on your product page.  This way, your customer will know when to expect your package and you will not end up with unmet expectations.

They want to feel special

Let’s face it, most people who are shopping with you appreciate the arts and enjoy supporting a handmade artisan as opposed to buying mass produced items. You can assist your customer’s experience by doing things to make them feel a little special.  Some suggestions are possibly a handwritten note, an included extra item, thought-out packaging, or offering to gift-wrap.

A professional attitude

Finally, as a handmade artist, it is perfectly acceptable that you will not run your business like a big corporation.  That being said, it is imperative that you do run your business with a professional attitude.  Make sure that even if you are creating your products on the kitchen table, you are not presenting yourself in a way that makes people feel more like they are dealing with their kid sister than a business.  Having a professional attitude includes all the above recommendations, but also includes the way you think about your business and yourself. 

Knowing what customers want from you is the first step towards providing quality customer service.  Every order you receive is a new opportunity to make a great impression, and having a professional outlook and great customer service skills will help you grow your business into a successful venture.