My husband and I were watching ACA (A Current Affair, Ch 9, Melbourne) program the other night and they were discussing why less people are entering the shops and more are shopping online. Talk had even been made of the home shopping option that was available for years and then scrapped because it was considered too expensive. Retailers are getting concerned about the declining number of shoppers.
There were a number of possible reasons and excuses given but we both felt that the key reasons for people moving to shopping online were not covered. However, those very same reasons we thought of also apply to those running businesses online. And what are they?
Good customer service. Customers deserve to be paid attention to when they walk into a store, or make contact with you via your website, email or phone. They don’t like being ignored or being made to feel they’re invisible. Have you ever rung a business number only to hear part of a conversation happening at the other end as they pick up the phone to answer your call? Or sent a business an email enquiring about their services and then finally receive a reply (or phone call) a couple of weeks later?
Staff who know what they’re talking about. How often have you walked into a store and asked about a product only to be served by a customer service operator who knows absolutely nothing about that product. Tech stores in particular are really bad at this one. If you want to sell a TV, computer, mobile phone or something else that is techy, for goodness sake, have staff who know the product and can show how it works. Same with running a business online – make sure those who respond via email (or phone) know what is needed to assist the client.
Another reason why customers shop online is the convenience of when they can shop in the comfort of their own home. They don’t have to get dressed, they don’t have to take the car out and find a parking spot. They don’t have to manoeuvre through traffic and often don’t have to wait in line to be served. And there aren’t open and closed hours – shopping online is 24/7.
With the increase of web use by a growing population worldwide, shopping online is here to stay. And businesses need to be making adjustments for it. So if that means retailers are losing numbers of customers coming through their physical doors, they need to be doing something about opening an online door and maintaining it.
What does the above do with being a Virtual Assistant? I believe we can learn from these lessons with respect to customer service and being sure we know what we’re talking about. I know that many (newer) VAs will often promote services that they aren’t yet ready to provide, thinking they can sub-contract it to another VA or that it won’t be that hard to learn. Sometimes that can mean losing a client who becomes convinced this whole VA thing isn’t as good as they had heard. (Know what you’re talking about)
Another problem is the slow response from some – or no response. I’ve sent emails to many VAs only to have a bounced message because their mailbox is full. If you’re running a business online you need to ensure your mailbox is emptied every day, increase the size of your mailbox if it is constantly filling and ensure you answer emails in a timely manner. (Good customer service)