A Prescription for Online Customer Service Success
DrsFosterSmith.com, the online portal for pet supply retailer Doctors Foster and Smith, understands customer service and has the proof to make such a claim.
For example, ForeSee Results earlier this year named it the nation's fourth-ranked retailer in customer satisfaction in the online customer satisfaction measurement firm's Spring 2008 Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index. Here, it only lagged behind Netflix.com, QVC.com and Amazon.com, garnering an overall score of 81 out of a possible 100 points. That put it at the threshold of "superior customer satisfaction," according to the index.
Based in Rhinelander, Wis., the 25-year-old Doctors Foster and Smith has become the country's largest veterinarian-owned retailer of pet supplies and pharmaceuticals online and via specialized catalogs. More than 16,000 items are available to shoppers, generating more than $230 million in annual sales.
eM+C asked Gordon Magee, the Internet marketing and analysis manager at Doctors Foster and Smith, about how the site is able to maintain such a high level of customer service. Here are highlights from the interview.
Gordon Magee: It all comes down to common sense. We think through how the
customer will respond to whatever it is we put on the Internet. In other words, [we ask,] "Will this help them understand what they are buying, so that they like what they are buying, know what they are buying and have enough information to make the right decision?" We want to make sure they are buying something they are clear about. People want to know what they are buying.
- People are buying what they want.
- We are packing what they want.
- Merchandise arrives in good shape.
- And they are getting a good product.
We also have 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed, period. So, no matter what, we guarantee our customers' satisfaction. And that makes a huge difference, particularly when it is not just a marketing tag; it's reality. If we have an upset customer for any reason, which any company will have from time to time, we will make it right. One upset customer bothers our owners, even if the customer is wrong.
GM: We have a one-stop resolution for the customer. In general, we empower our customer service agents to resolve a problem within that phone call rather than having to go and get someone to solve it. And, for customers, that's important.
We also have an ICS (Internet Customer Service) team. Here, we take key individuals from different departments, such as marketing, merchandising, customer service, back-end IT, Internet IT and creative. That team of people sits down and reviews how the Web site works from a customer standpoint, taking into account things such as look, feel and functionality of our Web site. Each one brings a different perspective.
GM: [Although] there is nothing really new about how you relate to customers, No. 1, listen to the comments of your customers, and pay attention to them. Don't just sell them what you think they want to buy. No. 2, focus on making customers, not just sales. Over time, customers will keep coming back, but if you just make a sale and don't take care of your customers, they are not going to come back.