Follow-up Thank You card

Follow-up email: Why bother planning?

I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping this year online. Not for great deals, there doesn’t seem to enough time to physically go shopping.  It’s a great time for eTailers, which is why I was so surprised by my experience.

Whilst shopping for some friends in Scotland, I discovered that the manufacturers website couldn’t quote me a price for delivery – and so wouldn’t take my order. There was no online chat widget and the telephone number went to voicemail (citing business hours) so I had to send them an email.

My email just asked what the delivery cost was, or if there was another way to buy their stuff in the UK. The next day I got two emails back, one from their US office and another from their UK office. Both follow-up emails seemed helpful, they contained links to (different) places to buy their product & one email addressed my question of gift wrapping by saying that they’d raise it as a feature request to their manager. A bit strange for online stores not to be offering gift wrapping at this time of year, but hey, thanks for replying and taking my request seriously.

Clicking on the links was somewhat more disappointing. One link was for an online store that didn’t have stock of the product I wanted (specifically mention on the page that it was out of stock), the link from the second office was for a product that was in stock, but not the model I wanted.

A large portion of selling online is about creating the right atmosphere for customers to buy, including converting them at that crucial moment when they’re looking at your product. With just a little bit of extra work, this could’ve been a much better experience. Here’s how:

  1. Try to sell, if the product isn’t available tell me, and suggest an alternative.
  2. Homework, if the product isn’t in stock, don’t send me to the link anyway, it’s frustrating and you’re potentially losing out on my sale.
  3. Back-ups, if you have multiple vendors or sales options give me an alternative, just in case there’s a problem with me buying from the first one.
  4. Uniform message, if more than one office could respond to a message, try to make sure that the response is researched (predefined supplier lists) so that it can be similar, or at least includes the other office. This just looks more organized.
  5. Whole message, respond to the entirety of my inquiry, not just the first part. Most customers don’t want to have to write back repeatedly.
  6. Incentives, I didn’t complete my sale and I’ve left the site, I might have sent you an email but I’m not at the crucial point of closure anymore – incentivising me to buy your product will help to ensure that I complete the sale.