Want some not-so-fun customer service news? The average American tells 15 people when they’ve had a poor customer service experience—and 56% of buyers have stopped doing business with a company because they’ve experienced poor customer service, Microsoft reports.
But here’s the good news: 67% of customer churn is preventable if your shop resolves customers issues the first time they occur.
“Your customer service team can make or break your success with each customer,” says Zach Ellsworth, general manager at Stahls’. “If you’re receiving complaints often, it’s time to dig in and take improvement seriously.”
To quote the great Bill Gates, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” The customer complaints your shop racks up the most often are your best resource for understanding how your business can perform better.
We asked the experts to break down six common customer complaints decorators get—and how to fix them for good.
COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINT #1:
“Why is it so hard to order logoed apparel from your site?”
It can be difficult for your customers to order decorated apparel online. Your buyer isn’t criticizing your decorating skills. Instead, they’re frustrated by how your ecommerce platform functions.
“While large platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and Squarespace can make our sites look cool, the niche process of ordering custom apparel isn’t widely supported,” Ellsworth says. “That means we often try to create workarounds with the tools in those platforms.”
Action Step 1:
Make sure your website is competitive with other decorated-apparel providers.
“Experience shopping is the future,” says Michelle Moxley, innovation director at The M&R Companies. “Whether you’re offering products that are completely produced, or customizable, engaging with your customer through a virtual platform and creating ease-of-use experiences is key.”
Ellsworth says one way to simplify the ordering process is to move your site over to a platform specifically designed to sell custom apparel. Take a look at InkSoft, Printavo, OrderMyGear, DecoNetwork and Spirit Sale, for starters. Add tools to your site like 3-D virtual mockups, so your clients can see how their logo looks on your apparel offering. If you’re selling pre-decorated apparel, think about including real-time inventory counts to your site, as well.
Action Step 2:
After you build your own ecommerce site, you can also create custom apparel stores designed specifically for each of your customers, Ellsworth says. An example of this type of store is what we’ve seen from the popular stores setup during the “Here for Good” movement. These online pop-up shops were created to sell logoed T-shirts, designed to help raise money for local businesses.
You could easily do something similar for local companies, schools, teams and organizations, as a way to help them fundraise or bring in some extra income. This helps you expand your client base, and also makes sure that all of their decoration needs get funneled through your business.
COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINT #2:
“You’re always out of the T-shirt I wanted!”
Sometimes, of course, things happen, and you’re out of a certain item. Good news, there are ways to avoid this issue.
Ensure your website routinely updates from your CRM or connects to your supplier real-time inventory feeds, so you know the exact amount of a specific item in inventory. Create a notification system that lets you know when you’re reaching a predetermined threshold in your inventory so you can reorder promptly.
If an item is always on backorder, you may need to consider finding a new supplier. Take a look at your sales data to determine what’s hot and should be stocked as opposed to items that can be cut back to make more space in your stockroom.
And consider this: If you house a smaller inventory and create custom products for your customer’s customers, there’s less risk all around. This ties into the business model of creating custom stores for your clients and fulfilling their orders directly to the end-user.
“Yes, decorators work with customers on a daily basis, but may not be as experienced actually in a direct-to-consumer model,” Moxley says. “In-stock items and fulfillment become critical pieces of the puzzle.”
COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINT #3:
“Your customer service department is horrible!”
Your customer service team can make or break your success. “If you’re receiving this complaint often, it’s time to dig in and take improvement seriously,” Ellsworth says. “Speak directly with those customers to find out the details of the complaint and how they’d like you to resolve it. Acknowledge their poor experience and walk away with a series of steps on how to address it.”
Action Step 1:
Create standard KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). One example would be a KPI that tracks and measures your reps response time to customer inquiries. Did they get back to the customer within at least 60 to 90 minutes of their original call, email or chat?
Action Step 2:
In addition to phone and email, consider adding chat, text and IMs as ways for customers to reach you. This assures them that your business can be reached and is reliable, if problems occur.
Action Step 3:
Consider adopting two types of software—one for your call center and another for CRMs. With call center software, you can streamline your calls by outsourcing them to another company that can help handle communication at peak times.
And remember, 72% of consumers say that having to explain their problem to multiple people at your shop is poor customer service. With a CRM solution, you can ensure your reps have access to your customer’s ordering history so they know exactly how to handle their problems.
COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINT #4:
“I order from you and then don’t hear anything!”
You know the drill. A customer places an order and gets a ship-date confirmation. Then, it’s often crickets from the decorator side. If this was a relationship with your SO, the message would be loud and clear: Change how you communicate with me, or I’m out of here.
Action Step 1:
Be proactive in making sure your customers receive an update every time something happens with their order, such as when it’s sent to the shipping dock. Ellsworth recommends drafting an email template for your team to use that says, “Thanks so much for your order! It’s scheduled to ship in seven business days. We’re starting the process right now. You’ll hear from us when your order ships. If you need anything before that time, reply to this email.”
Action Step 2:
Review your order processing workflow to see if there are gaps you can close to make it more efficient. This is especially important if you’re fulfilling orders via your customer’s online store.
“Decorators should definitely research and implement workflow systems,” Moxley says. “A unit of one requires more handling than a volume inventory-to-warehouse model. Every unit is a different size, color and graphic application. Some units may require customization. Every unit might go to a different location. All of these needs require a workflow that’s frictionless to allow for a seamless consumer experience and highest volume output.”
COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINT #5:
“I received my order, and it wasn’t what I expected.”
It’s time to drill down into the actual issue: Was it the artwork,the garment quality, or both? “Determine exactly what happened,” Ellsworth says. “Was the poor outcome of the artwork or garment quality predictable and preventable? Or, were there circumstances that were unavoidable and out of your control?”
Action Step 1:
If the complaint is about the artwork quality, that usually means that the job started with low-quality graphics. “My offer would be to bring the artwork up to print-ready quality and reproduce the job,” Ellsworth says. “Going forward, if a customer gives you poor artwork, explain the expected low-quality outcome, if the file isn’t tweaked.”
Action Step 2:
As for apparel quality, find more tangible ways for customers to review good, better and best products before making a choice. Consider using 3-D models on your website to show products from every possible angle, along with detailed descriptions and costs for different decoration methods. Have decorated samples in your showroom for local customers.
COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINT #6:
“You missed my in-hands date!”
Missing an in-hands date might be one of the biggest customer service faux pas in the decorated-apparel industry. “If we missed the in-hands date because of an error on our side, we owe the customer a big apology and a refund,” Ellsworth says.
Action Step 1:
Usually, you know a few days before a missed delivery that something is going awry.
“Communicate early and often,” Ellsworth says. “It’s much easier to have a conversation early in the process rather than when the date has come and gone and we just couldn’t get things done.”
Ellsworth cites an example where his team called the customer to say they didn’t have enough time to produce and deliver the decorated products. “Our customer prioritized the absolutely essential items for the event,” he says. “They also authorized paying more for the job so we could arrange for overtime with our staff to make sure they got what they needed.”
Taking Care of Your Customers Means They’ll Take Care of You
When you receive a complaint from a customer, the important takeaway is how you view the information. Customer feedback is an opportunity to make changes to your business and improve your overall customer experience. By doing this, you’ll have a better chance of winning over disgruntled customers and getting more business, while keeping repeat customers happy.
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