Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Business Hours

Shopping handmade has spoiled me...rotten. I'm afraid I have begun to expect many things that I have no right to expect from sellers. I know that I'm dealing with a real person and as a result, I expect a one on one shopping experience. Not so outlandish you say, but consider this, I want said one on one experience as if I am in fact not only their sole customer, but the only thing they need to deal with until my order is complete. I expect immediate responses to all questions. I expect a free gift or at the very least some great promotional item included with my order. I assume the order will be shipped out immediately after I pay and will arrive with speed inconsistent with the current USPS system.

All this is absolutely ridiculous and I know that. Why have I begun to think like this? Simple, too many sellers are actually accommodating some or all of these requests. Most of them are new sellers, trying their hardest to attract and keep new buyers. Please, I beg of you, stop it! Oh, I get it, you want to offer the best possible customer service. That's fine, but you want to know a secret. The best customer service is a quality, accurately described product, shipped when you state it will ship, that arrives in good condition. Questions answered in a timely manner, not two minutes after you asked and perhaps a nice thank you note in the package. When you do too much more than that, you will undermine your ability to keep it up. Trust me, I know.

When I first started selling, I included a tatted bookmark with every order. The bookmark actually took longer to make in most cases that the actual order. I stopped when I started getting more than one order a week. I was scared that without the free gift, people would stop buying, but it didn't happen. I used the time I wasted on making free gifts to create new, more complex designs. Now I write a thank you note, pack my pieces carefully, notify the buyer that I'm shipping and my customers get just what they were expecting. I'm not saying you should add a little something to the package occasionally, but don't get carried away.

I am a stay at home mom, so I can answer a email or convo almost immediately most days of the week. If an order is not custom, I can have it packed and ready to ship by the next pick up. I have to remind myself that I don't have to keep that up. I do have other things that need to be done. Kids need food, dishes shouldn't really spill out of the sink like that, the cats will revolt if I don't get them some fresh water. Occasionally, I should leave the house.

My solution, business hours. Just because I can be available 12-14 hours a days, certainly doesn't mean I should be available that often. I'm even thinking that I should post hours on my profile page, so people don't think I'm ignoring them on Sunday when we visit the in-laws. Then, and this is the tricky part, I should follow those hours. We accept business hours from brick and mortar businesses, why shouldn't we accept them from online sellers. Remember that you are are probably not the only customer they are helping and they might actually have a life outside their business.

People, take back your lives and let others have theirs back too! I know running a business is hard work and can be long hours, but don't let this instant internet world make you too available or too demanding. Don't let your need for customers overwhelm your common sense and offer more free stuff than you can actually afford. Treat your customers well, but not like royalty, that's all most people expect, that's all you should expect.

20 comments:

Alorinna said...

Nice post, and I agree.

Cara said...

Thanks

Miss Courageous said...

well put! I don't really like getting extras in my orders anyway. They're usually something I won't use, and therefore, waste. I do appreciate the good intentions, but lets all put that effort into quality products, accurate descriptions, better photos, and timely mailings. Good service isn't about giving extras, it's about quality and caring. Thank you for helping us all keep focus!

Gallery Juana said...

Lots of Food for thought.

knitsteel said...

So true.
I just want a quick email acknowleding the sale and then I want what I ordered, shipped out according to the seller's posted shipping schedule. (Shipping once a week is fine, if I can read that somewhere in the profile.) I want my shopping experience to be predictable and reliable.

Sewlutions' World said...

Great point about business hours and sticking to it.

Fate and Shayna - because one name is never enough said...

Fabulous entry, well-written and good insight!

Cicada Studio said...

What a brilliant idea to post (and keep) business hours. I'm going to do that! I could do this 24/7 and I'm always here "on demand". It's a great way to reel that in. Thanks for the suggestion! Don't be surprised if I blog about it (and give you full credit!)

I'm actually feeling a little relief!

Corrabelle said...

I couldnt agree more. You've read my mind!

that_rat said...

Yay! I get my wife back! And don't worry, I will help enforce your store hours! :^)

TotusMel said...

Ladies & Gentlemen...may I introduce my husband!
-pam

Rosebud Collection said...

Very good blog and good advice..

BabyLyons said...

GREAT post!!! I think I'll have to put something in my Shop Policy along those lines, but in less words of course, and nothing that would offend :P Thank you!

Astrida Naturals said...

This is so true. I'm new to Esty but I have been selling other products online for years. I remember that as a new seller, I wanted to make sure I was getting off on the right foot with customer service, and at that time that meant promising to ship the very next day. Well it quickly became apparent that this was an ambitious promise I ultimately could not always keep. People do want fast shipping, but I find I get more satisfaction when items are packaged well and there is some kind of notification of shipping. I always email my customers when an order has shipped and include a confirmation number if applicable. I think that works for most people.

P.S. Love your blog!

Cute & Sweet said...

Great points! Love the idea of business hours!

Urbanknit said...

very very interesting read. makes complete sense

BeadedTail said...

What a great post! I have a reduction in my stress level already. Thank you for pointing out the obvious that I couldn't yet see!

UniqueNurseGranny said...

Good ideas.

yellowplum said...

too right. :-)

Steph said...

Terrific post!