Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Customer service & eCommerce

Like most business people in their mid 30s, I use the internet quite frequently.  I have made a comfortable living buy running internet based stores and services.  I have made good use of sites such as eBay and PayPal.  I use PayPal as the payment method on my websites too.
I can assure you that the business I am in has plenty of competition, so I have made it a point to not only offer great products at very competitive prices, but I make sure my staff offers the VERY highest quality of customer service.   All emails get answered within 24 hours and calls are answered politely and professionally.
Recently, I wanted to add a feature to one of my websites, so I called the hosting company.  According to them, since it was a feature involved in my checkout process, it was PayPal that could help.  So, I sent PayPal a very detailed and fairly simple email.  I received a reply that had a lot of writing but no answer.   I replied stating that I did not get the answer I had requested, and I am no closer to having my answer than before.  3 days of emails to and from and I still did not get a direct answer, so I called them, waited on hold for quite some time and spoke to a guy that was barely understandable.
After about 40 minutes on the phone I got frustrated and asked a simple question, "Not to be rude, but please answer with a simple yes or no, do you understand what I want?  And if you do, can it be done?"  I got a long winded answer that again, did not result in a yes or no.
eCommerce and online stores are not a fad, they are how we are going to continue shopping.  Some sites such as eBay are user friendly, easy for just about anybody to use and if used properly, can make you quite a bit of extra income.  Other sites such as Amazon are very hard to navigate and aren't very clear as to what needs to be done. 
Despite actual website design, I feel that customer service has been neglected with so many large companies that have moved towards the online service domain.  If I walked into a bank and didn't get an answer, I would likely change banks.  PayPal is lucky since it is the biggest money transfer service on the web, and for the most part, a great site and great service.
Perhaps because I come from a  restaurant and bar background that I feel that A1 service MUST be given at all times, but I feel that customer service has gone down the tubes lately.  It is very hard to find an online store that offers great products, great prices, and live friendly customer service, and that is too bad.
Although the internet is the new way of socializing and networking, we must not lose our manners, professionalism or ability to interact with our clients.  I assure you in a few years, it is the businesses that offer service and support to their clients that will survive.

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