How to maintain customer loyalty when things go wrong

How to maintain customer loyalty for your online shop

Published in Handling problems

Things go wrong in life and there’s no avoiding it, but when you’re running an online shop it’s crucial to deal with mistakes, problems or complaints quickly and efficiently. There’s so much competition for online sellers that you need to handle problems well so that your customers remain loyal. We’ve put together our top five tips for maintaining customer loyalty when things go wrong for your online business.

1. Communicate

If there's any kind of problem with your online shop, whether it's your website or your couriers, the first thing you need to do is communicate with your customers. Ignoring the problem or pretending there isn't one is only going to make customers frustrated. Let them know that you're aware of the problem, and you're trying to fix it. And, when you do fix it, tell them. If your customers are kept informed and know what's going on then they'll be less annoyed and more likely to wait for the problem to be fixed - and to come back again. 

2. Listen to complaints 

People will complain when things are going wrong, and while you might not agree with their complaints it's important to try to understand why they're unhappy. If a customer feels angry, let down or disappoitned with your online shop it's no good telling them they shouldn't feel that way. Listen to what they have to say, and discuss with them how you can fix the problem. Be optimistic and focus on what you're able to fix, rather than repeating what you can't do. 

3. Apologise

An apology always goes a long way to calming a difficult situation. If you're at fault, be upfront about it, admit the mistake and apologise for the inconvenience. When it's not your fault, or you believe the customer may have made a mistake, you still need to be polite and understanding, but if they're being unreasonable be prepared to let it go. 

4. Do something extra

If it's a big mistake or an ongoing issue with your online shop, then go the extra mile to make it up to your customers. You can keep a customer coming back even after big mistakes if you demonstrate that you're sorry and make amends. If necessary, give them a quick and simple refund or discount so that even though things went wrong they'll remember that it was hassle free to get their money back. 

5. Learn from your mistakes

When something goes wrong make sure it never happens again. If you have a recurring problem, then all the apologies and discounts in the world won't keep your customers loyal. You need to find the root of the problem, and find a way to fix it, for example if parcels are frequently going missing then maybe it's time to look into a different courier. Customers may come back after a mistake once, but if it happens again and again not only will you lost customers but they may share their negative experience and discourage others from shopping with you. 

These tips might seem fairly obvious, but it’s easy to forget simple customer service and communication when things are going wrong and you’re under pressure. The most important thing is to keep a balance between interacting with customers, keeping them informed and happy, while fixing the issue as quickly and smoothly as possible.


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About the author

Verity is a journalist and content producer at Zenstores.

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