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.