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Importance of customer service and following up enquiries

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It’s a strange thing, but one of the most often forgotten aspects of Internet business, especially amongst small business owners, is customer service. How can the importance of customer service and following up enquiries be overlooked?

How many times have you emailed an enquiry to a business that either never got answered or was answered with a single sentence that didn’t include “Dear…” at the top, any thanks for the enquiry or even a sign off? All too often.

For some people, website based discussions and email especially seems to have created a mindset where the simple rules of grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalisation and manners just don’t have to exist, never mind the customer service. Maybe that has some truth in private emails between friends and family, but as a business it’s just unacceptable.

Some recently carried out research has underlined yet again just how important a professional approach is; your response to online enquiries should be no different to how you handle any other enquiry, indeed in a world where customers all too often get an unprofessional or sloppy response, sending out a high quality one can really make you stand out.

Whilst the research was carried out in the US market, the below inforgraphic holds some really interesting figures; 68% of customers "leave" a company because of the treatment they receive, $80b is the cost of poor customer service in the USA and over 60% of marketing time is spent gaining new customers whilst only 20% goes on customer retention;

Most of your online enquiries will come in the form of emails and it’s easy enough to get a graphic or web designer to put together some email stationery with your logo and for you to put together some stock replies and letters or employ someone with strong writing skills to respond to emails. Increasingly though, you also need to think about social networks; if you have a business Facebook or Twitter, how good are you at responding to information requests on there, and how can you do it in a more engaging way than letter writing?

Social networks often create the opportunity to have a more natural back and forth conversation with someone, but it’s easy to get a bit too relaxed and chummy as well, you need to really consider your brand and what suits it best and then apply it religiously day after day, even experiment a little bit with being traditionally businesslike or injecting a little humour and personalisation, this often goes down well but it needs just the right balance for you.