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As with any type of shopping it is possible to make mistakes during the process of online shopping. These mistakes may include ordering the wrong item, ordering the correct item in the wrong size or color, providing the wrong shipping address, providing inaccurate billing information, purchasing the wrong quantity of an item and even dealing with mistakes made by the online retailer. This article will discuss some effective strategies for dealing with mistakes made when online shopping and will also provide some tips for avoiding mistakes when online shopping in the first place.

Contacting Customer Service Immediately

Mistakes made when online shopping are typically realized either immediately after the purchase is made or else they are not realized until the order arrives. However, regardless of when the mistake is realized the first step for correcting the problem is the same. As soon as an online shopper realizes a mistake was made with his order, he should contact customer service immediately. In situations in which the mistake is realized immediately after the order is placed, correcting the mistake may be fairly simple as long as the online shopper contacts customer service to describe the problem immediately. If the order has not yet been processed, the customer service representative may be able to make the corrections before the order proceeds. However, many online retailers have their online shopping process completely automated which can make it difficult to make changes to the order even when it is recognized immediately. This may occur because the order has already been transferred to the shipper and the online retailer no longer has the ability to the files.

Even when a consumer does not realize a mistake has been made until the item arrives, he should still contact customer service immediately to report the problem. This is useful because this first call to customer service will start a record of the problem which will be useful in getting the problem resolved. The customer service representative can provide valuable information the consumer can use to rectify the problem as quickly as possible.

Making Returns when Necessary

When mistakes are made with an online purchase, it is often necessary to return the items to the online retailer. Online retailers who also have traditional stores may allow the online shopper to return the items purchased online to a traditional store. The other option for making returns is to ship the item back to the online retailer directly.

Depending on the cause of the mistake there may be different options available for returning the item to the online retailer. If the online retailer is at fault they may assume the responsibility for the cost of the shipping and may even make arrangements to have the shipper pick up the item from the shopper’s home. This is both cost effective and convenient for the shopper. However, when the shopper is returning the item because he made a mistake or simply did not like the item the consumer will likely be responsible for the cost of shipping the item back to the online retailer.

Tips for Avoiding Mistakes when Online Shopping

Although correcting mistakes made during online shopping is not always difficult it is far better to try to avoid these mistakes in the first place. The best way to avoid mistakes when placing an order online is to carefully review the purchase before submitting the order. Most online retailers provide shoppers with the opportunity to verify information such as the items being purchased, shipping address and billing information before the purchase is submitted to the online retailer. Online shoppers should carefully review all of the information provided on this verification screen to help avoid making mistakes which can be costly in terms of time or money.

Mistakes when online shopping can also be avoided by placing the order through a customer service representative as opposed to through the online retailer’s website. This method can help to limit the potential for mistakes because the consumer has the opportunity to converse directly with a representative who can answer any questions the consumer has about the product. Therefore, mistakes which often result from the consumer misreading the product description can be avoided.

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Online shoppers often need to deal with customer service representatives from the online retailer they choose to patronize. From making purchases to dealing with problems with the order a customer service representative can be a great deal of assistance to online shoppers. This article will focus on some of the common interactions online shoppers have with a customer service representative. Some of these interactions include making a purchase, asking questions about products and making a complaint about an item purchased. This article will also discuss some of the common methods for contacting customer service including telephone, email and online forms.

Contacting Customer Service Representative to Make a Purchase

One of the most common interactions between online shoppers and online retailers is the process of making a purchase. Although many online retailers offer shoppers the ability to make their purchases directly through a website, most of these retailers also offer the opportunity for the customers to make the purchase by calling a customer service representative. Online shoppers may prefer this method for a number of different reasons. Some online shoppers may have apprehensions about the security of the website while others may simply have a personal preference for placing the order online as opposed to through a website. Regardless of the reason for contacting customer service to make an online purchase, the buyer will likely find this interaction to be quite simple as long as he has all of the necessary information on hand. This included information such as the product number and his billing information.

Contacting Customer Service with Inquiries

Another reason why online shoppers often contact a customer service representative agent from an online retailer is to ask questions about the products offered by the retailer. Consumers may have questions because the website does not provide enough information about the product. Even online retailers who offer very detailed product descriptions may omit details which are important to a particular consumer. In these cases the online shopper can contact customer service to have these questions answered. These questions may pertain to the product or other factors such as the shipping policies or return policies. Regardless of the subject of the question the customer service representative should either be able to answer the question or should be able to find an answer for the consumer.

Contacting Customer Service with a Complaint

Contacting a customer service agent with a complaint about a product purchased online is definitely one of the most difficult and stressful interactions an online shopper can have with a customer service agent. However, there are occasionally situations in which these interactions are necessary. When these situations arise it is important for the consumer to ensure he has all of the necessary information available when contacting customer service. This will include information such as the order number and the billing information. The order number is important because it will allow the customer service agent to verify items such as the item which was purchased and the date of the purchase. With this information the customer service can provide information about the options available to the consumer such as a refund or an exchange.

Methods of Contacting Customer Service

Online shoppers who wish to speak to a customer service agent from an online retailer typically have a few options available to them. The most popular option is the ability to contact an agent via telephone. Most online retailers provide a phone number for reaching customer service on the receipt as well as on the website. However, the telephone is not the only way in which online shoppers can contact customer service. Email is another popular option consumers can use to reach a customer service agent. Most online retailers offer the option of emailing customer service to make inquiries or complaints. Some retailers even provide online forms which make it easy for consumers to reach a customer service agent. These forms typically enable the consumer to provide his own contact information as well as the reason for contacting customer service. A customer service agent will then investigate the inquiry or complaint and respond to the customer either via telephone or email.

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We’ve all had friends in our circle who were known as “Mary & John”, and when “John” split “Mary” was alone. Mary was the “odd” number at the dinner party and we were all concerned about her.  Well, today it seems that the union of Customer & Service have had a breakup.  Service has split and Customer is on his/her own.

Today, let me tell you a story that many of you will find humorous but is all too common.  I can tell you this without fear of our local editor getting sued because it’s about me, but business owners take note that you don’t fit the profile of company “X”.

Four weeks ago I decided that I needed another green recycling can from my trash pickup company.  We’ll call them Brown Keg Trash Pickup, an anonymous company in the interest of avoiding litigation. I called their Customer Service number, and as an environmentally conscious citizen requested my extra recycle can.  The cheerful voice on the other end of the line chirped, “Of course, we’ll have one delivered in 48 hours.”  After giving her all the pertinent location information, I hung up the phone with the satisfied feeling of a good citizen.

I arrived home about 5 p.m. the next day and  I was happy to see another green can at the mouth of my driveway.  When I looked again, I noticed that I had another green can – but it was without a lid.  I quickly dialed my cheerful telephone voice at Brown Keg Company thanking her graciously for the rapid service and then told her about the missing lid.  Just as cheerfully as the first time, she told me to leave it at the end of my driveway after my usual trash pickup and they would replace the entire unit since they didn’t have extra lids.  I agreed, and after hanging up the phone I pondered their plight of having lidless cans but no extra lids.  I conjured up all sorts of scenarios that explained where all the lids to the lidless cans went, and sympathized with their predicament.

Well, 3 days went by and there sat my poor, green, lidless can at my driveway’s mouth and a replacement never arrived.  Feeling empathy for this green plastic waif, I returned it to the side of it’s brother that had a lid.  I called my cheerful Customer Service voice again, and reiterated the plight of my poor lidless can and after a chuckle she assured me a complete unit would be forthcoming.  I found it necessary to make use of my lidless friend, and put it out the next pickup day filled to the brim.  Fortunately, it wasn’t windy and all the contents remained inside it.  That was 2 weeks ago, and life being what it is other  more important tasks have occupied me until this morning when facing another pickup day I thought of my lidless friend.

Once more I picked up the phone and called my trash pickup company, and this time I listened to a litany of choices of buttons I could punch and chose my cheerful Customer Service button again.  I was transferred, listened to a brief melody when there was a “click” and I expected my cheerful voice to chirp “hello”.  The next thing I heard was another click, silence, and then the dreaded dial tone that means you’ve been disconnected.  Not being one of the “fainthearted”, I simply redialed my number.  Again there was the litany of button choices, my choice and the music, and just when I began to feel that all was right with the world I heard – “click”, “dial tone” and nothing.

This was not the morning for the phone to be playing games with me, so I made one more determined effort and REDIALED!  “NASA, we have lift-off !”  I once more heard the litany of button choices, but this time I outfoxed that monotonous voice and punched “0”.  I asked for the Manager of Customer Service, I was given her name and was transferred.  What greeted my eager ear was, “You’ve reached the voicemail of ……., please leave your name and number and she’ll return your call.”

So here we sit - my lidless, green can and I facing another pick-up day.  This eager-to-serve plastic green waif must bravely face another dutiful day half-clothed.

You must admit that is an amusing story, and one that far too many of us have lived through, but what a sad commentary it is about our business community.  Doesn’t it make you wonder if our language has changed so drastically that what we interpret “Customer Service” to mean - is not what today’s business owners mean.  It makes me wonder when the marriage of Customer and Service broke-up, leaving us all the lonely ones.  

Entrepreneurs and business owners take note!  If you’re going to have a number for your customers to access your Customer Service, please follow these rules.

  • Have the phone manned by an employee that can hear thunder and see lightening.
  • Give that employee training in helping the caller and not shuffling the problem to another desk.
  • Have an overseer, who can also hear thunder and see lightening, check that all incoming complaints were handled appropriately.

After learning how to find your customers and what they want; after getting them committed to doing business with YOU; and after wooing them to keep them as your customers – WHY WOULD YOU LET “SERVICE” DIVORCE “CUSTOMER?”

If your customers aren’t getting the service they require from you – your competitor will be only too happy to help them!

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A virtual assistant is a self-employed business owner who provides administrative support to their clients.  The clients may want a one time job, or a long term position.  A virtual assistant may do secretarial duties, such as writing up letters and memo’s or contacting other business people for the client.  Other duties a virtual assistant may cover are customer service, messaging services, email blasts or autoresponders, email support, fax paperwork, and many other duties.  A virtual assistants duties really does vary drastically.  

There are a few key attributes to a great virtual assistant.  Good grammatical skills are necessary; no spelling errors are going to be acceptable.  A virtual assistant must be extremely organized because no one will hire an assistant who doesn’t have their files arranged and handy.  A virtual assistant with a wide range of skills is sought after.  Being technically savvy is essential especially when you are a virtual assistant because it is what people expect and need in such an internet related business world.

Also, in this technological world, you must be able to take directions, understand them without too many questions or issues, and get the work done, perfectly.  A virtual assistant must be on their toes, on the lookout for unforeseen issues that may have been overlooked.  Virtual assistants have great communication skills, negotiating rates, deadlines, and project plans.

But, unfortunately, these assistants must make sure that they make time for work.  It is really easy to get caught up in housework or the kids and not set aside work time at home.  When deadlines are missed, it looks bad on your reputation as a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant can make their own hours, as stated before, but they can also make their own rates, which is excellent.  They do not have to settle for getting paid too little for a big job.  They do not have to worry about long commutes, and therefore expensive gas, leaving their children at daycare, and stressful co-workers and bosses.

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It seems as though thank you notes have fallen by the wayside and are a thing of the past.  Over the past couple of years, we have attended several events including weddings, birthday parties and engagement parties where we have given gifts.  Only on one occasion did we receive any thank you notes, and we were quite surprised when that one showed up in the mail box!

Growing up, my parents insisted that I write thank you notes for any gifts given to me whether the giver was present at the time of opening or not.  In their eyes it was the least we could do to thank them for their generosity.  Especially in the cases of gifts being sent to us by mail, as sending thank you notes was also the way of letting the giver know that their gift was in fact received.

Now it seems as though thank you notes are not even given a second thought.  I always feel awkward to see people that I may have forgotten to send a thank you note, so I immediately apologize and thank them in person for their generous gift.  However I have run into several people that I have given gifts to and never received thank you notes from, and they don’t even act like they ever received the gift in the first place.  I hate to sound like an old fart, but it is just common courtesy to thank someone for the gift they have given you!  I do not hold a grudge whatsoever and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it certainly crosses my mind when I see these people.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, are the die hard grandmothers and grandfathers who insist on thank you notes for every little thing.  I actually have a friend that requested of her grandparents to not give her any more gifts because she was hassled so many times about the lag time in sending her thank you notes, even though she explicitly thank them when she received the gifts.  It’s not as though she never sent the thank you notes, it just took too long apparently.  In my opinion that is just ridiculous!  I may think it is nice to receive some acknowledgement but I absolutely would not hassle people to send me one!  Isn’t there any joy in giving gifts to people without being put on a pedestal each and every time?