Life As A Merchant (And How to Keep It Simple)

For the past few months now, I’ve been deeply involved in creating and marketing my own products. I still do some affiliate marketing, but for the time being, I’m building my own inventory.

Along with being a product owner comes some unique challenges.

One of these is customer support.

I keep a rough mental tally of how many emails I’m receiving on a given subject, and when things start getting out of hand (ie more than 2-3 emails in a week on a particular question) then I try to come up with a solution. 2-3 emails right now could easily become 10-20 per week later on, and if there is an easy fix, I’ve saved myself tons of time, right?

Ok – so here’s an example. I offer a member’s only download area, and some people were having trouble logging in and downloading. Mostly these questions were due to weak computer skills, and I found myself explaining things like ‘right click and save target as’ over and over. Well, I quickly realized I hadn’t put that particular line on my download page, so I added that, and things improved a bit.

Then I decided to do a walk through screen capture video and talk about everything a member might want to do, and show them how to do it. Boom. Emails dropped off.

Something else I’ve been dealing with lately is failed transactions. It just drives me nuts to see a failed transaction come through, because I know that’s lost revenue for me!

Unfortunately I don’t currently have a way of automatically following up with those people, but I did start emailing each one separately, to see if I could provide some suggestions as to how they might successfully purchase. Anyways, this started to get tiresome as well.

So I created some custom signatures in my email program, Entourage, one for each product. Now if a person tries to purchase product XYZ and fails, I can go into my system, click on their name (which opens an email window), type in a subject line and “Hello Johnny” and then select the signature of my choice and hit send.

The signature is in fact a complete email, complete with a screen capture shot of the order form with red circles and instructions.

So now I have a way of following up in a semi-automated manner, and hopefully capturing back some of those transactions. To date, although I haven’t counted exactly, I have seen a handful return for a successful purchase. Well worth 30 seconds.

You could take this same concept (email signatures) and use it for pretty much any kind of common customer support issue you run into. It is just a really handy way of storing a pre-packaged answer to a common question.

Do you have any little tricks on how you deal with customer support issues as a merchant? I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below!

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