I've recently had two frustrating experiences ordering from online companies and it's got me thinking about how important customer service is. I always go out of my way to package orders carefully, ship them quickly, and communicate by email with customers. Ordering online can be scary for some people and I want to make the process as easy as possible for them. I almost feel, as an online company, that I'm responsible in some way for their online shopping experience. So, it always disappoints me when companies larger than mine seem to care so little about it.
I ordered some pants for a Christmas gift for my husband on December 8th from a company that shall go unnamed. I'd been getting their catalogs for some time but hadn't ordered and I decided to take advantage of their free shipping offer. I received a confirmation email that my order was processed and then nothing. I waited a week and a half and called them. The item was in stock but they were busy and it hadn't shipped yet. The person I spoke to was nice enough but clearly didn't care. I waited some more. Finally, four days before Christmas I got an email that the order had shipped. And it arrived on Christmas Eve. I was steaming mad by this point and thought really hard about just refusing the package. I'm sorry but there's just no excuse for waiting three weeks to ship an order. If you're that busy, maybe you should hire some extra help for the holidays—it's not like there aren't people who need jobs. Lesson 1: Ship in a timely manner and, if you can't, let the customer know.
The second order was from a company that sells fabrics for cross stitch. I have a custom order scheduled and I wanted some nice linen to work with. Again, I got a confirmation e-mail but then no communication at all for a week. Last Friday I got the email that the package had shipped and it arrived today. But, when I opened it there was only one of the three items I ordered and that one was the wrong size (larger than I ordered so that worked in my favor). I called, they were very apologetic, but now it will be another week before I get my stuff. Lesson 2: Check and double check every order before it leaves your premises. I print out an extra copy of every invoice to include in the package and I check off every item as it goes into the box. And I pack one box at a time or keep them far enough apart that there's no confusion.
I seriously doubt if I'll ever shop with either of these companies again. There are other clothing companies and other shops that sell embroidery materials; shops that will ship orders on time and include the right things in the package. I have lots of choices. Lesson 3: (the old standard) You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you have a business you want people to shop with you again. It's much easier to get past customers to return than to attract new ones, so why screw that up. And, if you do make a mistake, make it right as quickly as you can.
Just some advice in case you're thinking of starting a business of your own.
Update: I received the second package from the embroidery supply company and guess what? It only contained one of the two missing items. So, I called again and was told that the third item was backordered. And how exactly was I supposed to know this? The person I spoke to didn't seem all that concerned when I told her I wouldn't be shopping with them in the future. Now, that's a poorly run business!