Online businesses are mushrooming everywhere. From Instagram to Facebook, these days it seems like everybody has something to sell. This is definitely a good thing as these social media platforms make it easier for the regular joe to reach a wider audience when advertising their items.
Fashionistas are selling jackets, skirts, blouses, handmade accessories while hijabsters are selling hijabs, shawls, scarves, jubahs and maternity dresses. Others offer English tea sets, plates, bowls (my Mama is a huge fan of these. Every other day, the Gdex guy would be honking outside her gate).
There is a world of items to be purchased through Instagram and Facebook and social media users are buying them everyday. However of late, I keep hearing girlfriends complain about sellers who do not offer a tracking number after payment has been made. Worse still, the items arrive late and when customers Whatsapp the seller (most popular form of communication between customers and sellers), they get no reply.
At the end of the day, customers log on to their social media networks and find the sellers badmouthing them, calling them all kinds of names from kancheong, to impatient to difficult.
Whoever said running an online business is easy was wrong. Of course most of you are running these businesses as a side income but the moment you have a big load of orders, you need to give special attention to your customers, no matter how difficult they can be. The customer is always right.
You cannot not reply your customers' messages and you cannot expect the customer to understand that you were not available because you were in a meeting/driving/eating. Customer service should be your priority. If you cannot handle customers' messages twenty-four hours a day, you have to hire somebody who can.
How would you feel if you ordered something from Zalora and after making payment, your item does not arrive. And then you called Zalora's customer service department and nobody answers. And then you log on to Zalora's Facebook and you find them posting a complain about you calling and harassing them. I ask you again, how would you feel?
Awhile back somebody sent me a photo of a conversation that took place between a buyer and a seller. The buyer was simply asking the seller when her item would be arriving but the seller's reply was something along the lines of "Give me you account number. I will refund you. I cannot stand dealing with difficult customers."
So the buyer, obviously offended, replied "How do you mean I am difficult? I am merely asking you when my item is arriving. I asked you for the tracking number awhile back and you did not reply."
The buyer did not respond. So the buyer went on and on about how the seller lacked professionalism and the seller's only reply was, an emoticon of a pig's snout. Not only did the seller not handle this professionally, she was also immature.
Remember, when handling other people's money (especially strangers), you have to be courteous, patient and above all, polite. Customers can be difficult, customers can harass you day and night but you as a seller need to maintain integrity.
Once you open up your Facebook and Instagram to strangers so they can view your items, you are a public social media figure. You do not use those accounts to b*tch, scream and yell about others.
All this said, there are a large number of very reputable online businesses. For instance, the people my Mama has purchased items from are always prompt and always available for any enquiries. A word of advice to those who are thinking of starting an online business, you need to hire help. You should have somebody who can ship items as many times possible in one day and you should have somebody who can reply your customers messages from 9am-5pm daily.
Starting an online business sure sounds like an easy way to make money but like everything good in life, it is not as easy as you think.