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Karin Ballestrazze
 
April 15, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce | Karin Ballestrazze

Don't forget customer service when people buy wine online

Retail is increasingly moving online, but does your winery have the customer service practices in place to manage this changing landscape? While it may seem easier to offer assistance through the Internet, some companies overlook this channel. Providing top-of-the-line customer service - no matter how customers choose to buy - can increase online wine sales

The way winery websites are set up can play a significant role in whether shoppers have a good or bad experience, according to Business 2 Community. Ecommerce pages should always be set up to ensure transactions are as convenient as possible. This may mean streamlining the checkout process or offering resources on product pages to help consumers make decisions. 

What makes a good ecommerce customer experience?
Although the Internet can make you feel far removed from your customers, they still want a human interaction when they reach out to you. Offering personal communications when you resolve problems can improve your business' reputation and lead to an increase in sales. The most successful ecommerce retailers offer more than one channel for customers to reach out when they have issues. Everyone is different - some shoppers will want to call when they have a problem and others prefer to email. This option can be especially beneficial when individuals run into issues outside of regular business hours. However, if you offer email service, the messages should be directed to a real person. 

Some consumers are even expressing a preference for contacting customer service reps through social media, Biz Report stated. Retailers that take this approach should create a specific handle or account dedicated to customer service to keep this experience separate from promotional materials or any other marketing communications. 

Ease of use plays a major role in how shoppers view the overall experience. While most ecommerce platforms allow customers to pay multiple ways, some people want to use more than one payment method per transaction, which can complicate things, Business 2 Community said. For example, if a customer received a gift certificate and spends more than the total amount, it should be easy to finish paying with a credit or debit card. 

Another common use of ecommerce websites is to send gifts. Many consumers select products for friends and family members and send them directly to the recipient. This process should be as easy as possible for shoppers. If you don't offer this option, customers may not stick around since their needs aren't being met.

Customer service pitfalls to avoid
Some online retailers are still struggling to handle customer service issues in the age of the Internet. Outsourcing client experience can complicate matters because there is often some disconnect between the retailer and its customers. Having direct contact with a winery representative helps to build the relationship, Business 2 Community suggested. Another bad strategy for managing customer service is having long wait times on the phone. Customers may have limited time or be anxious about purchases, and long wait times can cause the frustration to mount. If clients email about issues, it may be beneficial to have an automatic message to give them an idea of when they will receive a response.

One major detractor from customer experience is poor wine shipping options strategies. If you only offer one pricey shipping option, customers may avoid purchasing. Clients may be picky about the carrier or need their package within a certain time frame. If your options don't meet these requirements, shoppers will go somewhere else. 

If you suspect there are issues with your customer service practices, surveys can provide an indication of performance, Biz Report said. However, it's best to keep these short to avoid testing the patience of shoppers. 

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