Customer service is important. Really important. If you've ever been to a restaurant and received awful service you know exactly what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter how good the food is, bad customer service can ruin a meal. Same goes for shopping: Customers who receive bad customer service from an online store are highly unlikely to return, and even less likely to refer you business. 

Here are five ways to take your ecommerce stores customer service to the next level:

1. Do The Unexpected

Last year I wrote an article about my experience at Brooks Brothers. In short, I bought a shirt at one of their brick and mortar retail locations and a couple weeks later I received a handwritten thank you note from the sales guy (Garth, apparently) who helped me. That level of customer service blew me away and made my week. 


In similar fashion, A Shopify store called The Big Blue Hug sent me an unexpected thank you card with a painting I purchased from them. Again, it was a gesture that didn't take long but made a big impact. One final example is from another Shopify store, 3D Doodle Pads, who issued me a refund of $3.00 because the shipping cost for the 3D Doodle Pad I purchased was less than they expected. Completely unnecessary but completely awesome. All three of these retailers added a small personal touch that brought my shopping experience to the next level. None of it cost very much, but it all made a big impact. Customers appreciate when a merchant goes the extra mile and isn't okay with mediocrity.

2. Respond Generously

If a customer complains, take it seriously and act on it immediately. Complaint departments have changed quite a bit over the years. People don't fill out comment cards or send emails to the complaint department anymore. They go on Twitter and other public forums to raise hell, so it's very important to fix a squeaky wheel as soon as possible. If the complaint is legitimate you shouldn't cheap out... be generous. A good example is Starbucks, which despite being a franchise, takes it customer complaints seriously. They've got a track record of offering gift cards of a generous amount to upset coffee drinkers. A $50 gift card doesn’t cost the company much, but the positive publicity generated can be invaluable.

3. Offer Live Chat

In a retail store if you have a question about a product you can ask a sales associate or head to the customer service desk. If you have a complaint you can ask for the store manager. As we’ve moved to buying products and services online, we’ve come to expect online stores to have a customer service hotline or at the very minimum an email address to offer assistance or resolve issues. Ecommerce merchants can take their customer service to the next level by offering live customer support through a chat window. Shopify offers several plugins that merchants can add to their online store that will provide them with live chat: Desk.com, Olark, HelpOnClick, LiveChat, OggChat, Zopim Live Chat, and Live Chat by UserPulse are all good choices.

4. Send Customers a Survey

A survey is a good way to show your customers you care about their opinions. It’s also a great way to gather customer feedback for future offerings and to test current products on the market. The Shopify App Store currently offers a free beta version of FluidSurveys that will let you send customers a survey after they have received an order. You can also check out popular survey software like SurveyMonkey and WuFoo - both of which have basic plans that are free.

5. Create a Friendly Return Policy

Some people are hesitant to shop online because they're unsure about purchase and return policies. Does your ecommerce store have a return policy? If not, you should seriously consider creating one. While etching the details, It's important that all sales are not final, and all your policies are stated in plain english somewhere that's easy to find.