Provide Positive Customer Service
6. Call customers if you encounter merchandise problems or are unable to ship on time. This is something my company does that gets huge kudos from customers.
For example, if we have a textile item that gets shipped from the vendor with a different fabric composition than advertised, and we can't ship it to them without obtaining the customer's approval (to comply with FTC rules), then we don't just send a postcard with the information and ask them to take action. We call the customer directly so we can get an immediate decision and not hold up her order.
Around the holidays, we call customers if an item with an expected pre-Christmas delivery date becomes backordered. We tell customers the problem and explain that we wanted them to have enough time to make another purchase from us (or someone else). We lose very few of these orders, and customers are delighted we took the time to call.
Although the front end of the catalog business — preparing and placing a book in the hands of consumers — sometimes seems more exciting, don't forget to plan well and put creative thought into the customer experience from the time they place an order to the moment that fabulous product hits their doorsteps.
Phil Minix is senior vice president of catalog and tours marketing at Reiman Publications.