I will obviously have an email address. But what about a phone number? The problem is that its home based and that least in the beginning we won't have any one that will be able to answer the calls.
How you handle customer service can have a major factor on how delighted customers are after the transaction. Even more important it can drastically impact your initial conversion rate. Buyers often look for "trust items" like a phone number, email or even a physical address prior to purchasing.
The most inexpensive dedicated phone number can come from setting up a free Google Voice number. Have the recording identify it as your business and let they caller know when to expect a response (after 5pm, with in 24 hours, etc). Then you can call them back from your personal phone (you can block the number if you choose) at your convenience.
With regards to email avoid the free YourCompany@gmail.com and opt for the website name to be after the @. This can be set up via GoogleApps or Go Daddy for $5/mos. Set up an autoresponder that assures them their email was received and lets them know when to expect a reply.
Many customer service calls can be avoided by being proactive after the sale. Set up autoresponders that sends them the tracking number, directions for the product and even a video of how to use the product. Our experiences have shown that customers amerce more likely to read and watch the instructions via email prior to the package arriving. This cuts down on questions and ultimately makes for a more delighted customer.
Finally avoid the urge to outsource customer service. This is customer feedback that you need. You can use it to improve your product and process as well as great content for FAQs and blogs. If one person asks you can be sure there are hundreds more with the same question. You want to be the one providing the answers and winning trust, traffic and thought leadership.
I recommend you do the following:
1) Live chat using Olark.com (use an app on your phone as well). Free or starts at $17/month.
2) VOIP toll free number that forwards to your cell or even converts voice mails into mp3 and forwards it to your email. It's very professional. Use Grasshopper.com starts at $12/month
3) As for emails, I would recommend using Zendesk.com. Easy to use, app included as well. Starts at $2/month per box
Those 3 solutions will make you look like a big brand with minimal cost.
All you have to do now is answer customer inquiries on time :)
Hope this helps.
There are few tools that you could use to set up an automated response system. Given the size of your business, the free version should solve your problem.
As far as voice support is concerned, the same could be outsourced depending upon cost-benefit analysis.
In the hundreds of eCommerce projects I've participated in, I can say confidently that including a phone number on your website is a very important trust factor. Even if you do not accept orders over the phone, people want to know they are dealing with a legitimate business.
Can you answer the calls if they forward to your cell phone, or even multiple cell phones in sequence? If so, use a service like Grasshopper. http://grasshopper.com/toll-free-numbers-for-ecommerce/ - this allows you to intelligently route calls to different phones until someone picks it up. Or, it can go to voicemail.
If you cannot answer the phone, then I highly recommend at least setting up a professional recording, and returning peoples calls ASAP. You can hire someone from fiverr.com to record a professional voice message.
You should always try to reduce the number of phone calls, by making sure your website includes in-depth information about things such as shipping, taxes, and detailed product descriptions with multiple product photos.
If you'd like to discuss these things in more detail, schedule a call with me and we can dig into it.
I recommend adding live chat to your e-commerce site, some companies offer ticket system with the live chat feature (LiveChat is one example). And when you are unable to chat you can turn the live chat feature off and the system will allow the customer to send you a message instead (to your email email).
In terms of phone, we use line2, great service as you can use your computer to call and get a toll free number. You can also forward the number to your cell or home phone, OS app or Android app, etc...
Nothing better than trying few options and see what works for you. The ones I mentioned above are very cost effective (less than $40 per months) and you can change to different solutions if not satisfied without impacting your customers.
What will you be so busy with that you cannot answer the phone?
Customer service is *the* priority when establishing your retail business.
Get a phone set up, get a text/chat system set up, get an email set up, get social media monitoring set up, get carrier pigeons set up ...
The point is, delivering excellent customer service at the start is the only way you will grow. It will be tight for awhile, but you will grow to have a dedicated customer delight team.
Nearly every tool I mentioned above can be run off a single computer; dedicate that as your customer service center and leave it open all day. You can monitor everything as you do other tasks.
Best of luck and let me know if you need more help!
As a small-business owner, this means you’ll almost always be working against the grain when it comes to building a positive reputation for your company’s customer service.
Even if you provide “good enough” customer service to a vast majority of your customers, those who are left disappointed by their experiences with your company are more likely to remember them – and to report these poor experiences to others.
In other words: “good enough” won’t cut it.
Your customer service needs to be excellent if you want to have any chance of sticking out in your customer’s memory in a positive way.
Excellent customer service is providing the positive experience your customers didn’t even realize they were seeking until you gave it to them.
You can do plenty through email to provide great customer service: Ask for your customer's feedback regularly, see if there's anything you can do to improve their experience and respond to their requests within 24 hours.
You can see more examples from some of the world's top companies on how they handle customer service here: http://www.fieldboom.com/blog/customer-service-examples/.