There's no doubt that the most important thing you can achieve, if you're in online retail (or pretty well any other business), is turning customers into friends, as friendship brings loyalty and goodwill along with it, both of which are invaluable.
Amazingly this isn't difficult to do but it is astounding how many businesses and service providers make negatives worse by slow or total lack of response; not using the opportunity to turn problems into positives and, quite simply, not listening to their customers.
Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker said 'Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business'.
But how often is a complaining customer looked on in that way? Rarely, it seems to me.
I don't believe, and I've said this before, that the customer is necessarily always right, however making the customer feel good about their dealings with you is about the most important thing you can do.
Last year I was approached by the CEO of eKomi, a company I had never heard of before, with a view to working with them to help launch their business in the UK. Customer review software? What the heck is that, I thought. Then, taking a good hard look at Amazon, eBay and other large companies, and talking to the guys in the know at IMRG/ISIS, I began to get the message that where online business is concerned, a) establishing trust with visitors and customers was going to become more and more difficult as opportunities for online fraud and the unscrupulous opened up along with the global Web, and b) here was a solution.
There's no doubt that customers want to be listened to, at least most of them do. They want to be able to tell you what they think about your service, good or bad. They want to be able to have a good moan if they're not happy and see you do that little bit extra to put matters right (always do more, by the way, it will always pay off). They want to be able to tell other prospective customers what they think about you, and believe you me you want them to be doing that on your timeline, and not on the viral spaces of Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.
eKomi offers an excellent solution for e-commerce, from allowing small retailers the simplest of customer feedback solutions to the complete picture with product reviews for the larger ones.
It's almost certain that within a short space of time every reputable online retailer will be offering customer feedback - not only because it establishes trust (as long as it's obvious the feedback can't be manipulated) but also because that confidence increases sales and helps to streamline in-house procedures by highlighting areas that work well, and others that don't.
If I sound like a complete convert to this method of establishing trust it's because I am, and you'll be seeing more feedback on the websites you visit all the time.
For a Special Offer from eKomi to trial any of their products for free - click here