Why Customer Service is So Important for Your Ecommerce Business

December 2nd, 2016 Comments off

stamps_customer-care

Take care of your shoppers and if you do it well, your shoppers will take care of you. How? Prompt and thoughtful customer service, regardless of the issue at hand, can mean the difference between a one-time buyer and a loyal repeat customer. Recent figures indicate that 82 percent of clients stop doing business with a company solely due to bad customer service, and 85 percent would pay more to ensure a better customer experience!

Clearly, shoppers are looking for more than great products—they want interactions with your store to be just as satisfying. What can you do to provide outstanding customer care? Here are a few ideas.

Honor every customer with a response

There can be no stupid questions if you want your products to sell and your store to thrive. Acknowledge all questions, complaints and compliments, even if it’s just a quick, “I’m working on getting a better answer for you right now” or “Thanks for taking the time to let us know!” 

Consider the pros and cons of a multichannel support

Different methods of customer contact may work better for your shop than others. For example, email is usually less time-consuming, while phone calls can feel more personal but may require extra manpower to keep up with demand. A dedicated call center system may relieve shop owners of this task but can lack the personal touch you’ve established for your business. Live chat and social media bring more tiers to the equation. Which can you and your team best keep up with? What works with your customer-service budget? See what your own favorite stores are doing, and listen to and log customer feedback on this issue to help you make the best choices. 

Make sure your entire team is on the same page in terms of customer service

If you have help in responding to customers, whether you have dedicated staff or use an outside vendor, establish ground rules about language, policies and approaches. 

Respect customers’ time

Often, customers will contact you for the same reason or with similar questions. Posting short videos on your site – for example, how to assemble a product or troubleshoot a known issue – makes it easy for customers to find answers on their own, and lets you focus on other business matters. Similarly, an effective FAQ page can prevent unnecessary calls as well as provide a handy place for referrals. 

Make social media work for you

If you haven’t already established dedicated business accounts on your preferred social media platforms, do it now. Your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest can help connect you to customers. Be sure to post regularly and find ways to engage your followers in conversation, such as asking for product ideas or offering coupons. Do you shy away from negative feedback on social media? Turn that habit around now, because not responding is a turnoff for 88 percent of customers! Potential new customers might look at a company’s social media account to see how responsive the company is to customer support issues. 

Be positive about the negatives

The feedback that’s hardest to hear can be the most useful for your business. If your store hasn’t lived up to a customer’s expectations, take note of the problems and make changes immediately. If you follow up with the dissatisfied customer once the change is in place, you may have an opportunity to win back his or her business. 

Measure your customer service success

Keep detailed records of customer contact, response time, and resolution rates (how many calls or emails it took to resolve an issue). This data will help steer you toward the most effective ways to keep up a strong customer service program.

How to Create a Social Media Strategy

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

SDC_Blog_Social Media PlanSocial media is a great way to build your brand and develop a relationship with your customers. Still, while many ecommerce businesses have already established a social media presence, devising a plan for your posts leverages the power of social media even more.

Here’s some information about creating and implementing an effective social media plan for your ecommerce business.

Be choosy. While it’s tempting to jump on every social media platform, be realistic about how much you or your team can keep up with. Consider too how well your business translates to the different platforms. Sometimes, a service-oriented business can skip photo-dependent sites like Instagram. If your audience skews older, that demographic is more likely to check Facebook than Snapchat. 

Be easy to find. When you create social media accounts, choose usernames that match your business name as closely as possible, and try to keep them consistent across all of your social media platforms. Include as much information about your business in your profile as possible, as this indexable content can help search engines direct interested parties to not only your social media accounts but your business website as well. Once you’ve established the accounts, be sure to add your handles to your email communication, signage, stationery and other methods you use to make your business visible.

Be organized. Develop an editorial calendar to help you build out timely and newsworthy content. Creating compelling social content can be challenging, and utilizing a calendar can help a company focus on current topics and trends.

Build your following. Put thought into your content, and followers will pay attention when what you post is original and shareable. Don’t shy away from engaging well-known bloggers, influencers and media outlets. One great way to do this is to respond with useful information when users ask a question on one of your social media channels. Offering discounts to customers is another method to consider in order to grow your following.

Be responsive. Social media is worthless unless you’re ready to have conversations with your followers. Post regularly, be prompt when answering questions and concerns, and follow any interested parties yourself. Keep your content fresh and consistent so followers have a reason to check in frequently.

Be yourself. Social media gives you an opportunity to infuse your personality into your business. Consider sharing the story behind your business, interesting links you’ve found and inspiring words with your followers. You might also want to consider sharing any challenges you faced when starting your business—chances are, other businesses will encounter the same challenges and can benefit from your experience and insight.

Be innovative. Social media gives small-business owners unique opportunities to try out new products, programs and communications. Offer your followers the first look at a new item in your shop, a discount on the first shipment or the chance to sound in about their opinions. Once your promotion or experiment is over, track the kind of response you got and add the results to your social media plan.

USPS Announces Postage Rate Increase – Starts January 22, 2017

October 21st, 2016 Comments off

Stamps.com Blog Postage Rate Increase Shipping 2017It’s that time of the year again!  The U.S. Postal Service has proposed new shipping rates for select mail classes to be implemented on Sunday, January 22, 2017, if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).

Here are some highlights of the 2017 postage rate increase for Commercial Base pricing (online postage rates):

DOMESTIC SHIPPING

Priority Mail Express
Overall, prices for Priority Mail Express will increase by 3.4%.  A 0.5 lb package going to Zone 1 with Priority Mail Express will cost $21.18 in 2017 compared to $20.66 currently.PME

Priority Mail Express Flat Rate
All Priority Mail Express Flat Rate products will also see an increase in pricing next year.  The increases vary depending on the type of product.

PMEFR

Priority Mail
Priority Mail will see an average increase of 3.9%.  A 1 lb package going to Zone 1 with Priority Mail will cost $5.95 in 2017 compared to $5.75 currently.

PM

Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes & Envelopes
Postage rates for Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes as well as Envelopes will increase across the board in 2016.

PMFR

Priority Mail Regional Rate
Postage will increase for most Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes in 2017.  There is no change in postage for a Regional Rate Box A going to Zone 5 and the postage price is actually going down by $0.49 for a Regional Rate Box A being shipped to Zone 8.

PMRR

First Class Package Service
Overall prices for First Class Package Service rates will increase by 4.1%.  A 1 oz. package being shipped with First Class Package Service will cost $2.61 in 2017 compared to $2.60 currently.

FCPS

Parcel Select Ground
Parcel Select Ground will increase by 2.7%, but rates for some weight and zone groupings are actually going down.

PSG

INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING

Global Express Guaranteed
Global Express Guaranteed postage prices will increases across all weights and zones.

GXG

Priority Mail Express International
There are NO proposed changes to postage prices for Priority Mail Express International in 2017.

Priority Mail International
There are NO proposed changes to postage prices for Priority Mail International in 2017.

First Class Package International Service
There are NO proposed changes to postage prices for First Class Package International Service in 2017.

USPS Mailing Updates
The USPS has also proposed new pricing for its Mailing Services to the PRC.  If approved by the PRC, these price updates will also go into effect at the same time as the shipping updates, on January 22, 2017.

Stamps.com Will Automatically Update to the New USPS Rates on January 22, 2017
Once the rates are approved by the PRC, Stamps.com will automatically update all USPS rates inside the software and web-based version (Stamps.com Online) on Sunday, January 22, 2017.  If you are a Stamps.com customer, no additional actions are needed and you will see the new USPS rates automatically.

 

USPS Announces 2017 Postage Rate Increase for Mailing Services

October 14th, 2016 Comments off

SDC Blog Image USPS New Rates Jan 2017The United States Postal Service (USPS) has proposed new pricing for its Mailing Services to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).  If approved by the PRC, these price updates will go into effect in January 2017.

Note:  This proposal DOES NOT include Shipping Services (First Class Package Service, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express).  2017 rates for USPS Shipping Services should be announced soon.

If these rates are approved by the PRC, the new prices will take effect on Sunday, January 22, 2017.

Below is a brief explanation of the proposed changes:

Letters and Postcards

– The rate for First-Class Mail Letters (1 oz.) is increasing from $0.47 to $0.49.
– If using Metered Mail, the rate is decreasing from $0.465 to $0.46, making the Commercial Base (online postage) discount $0.03.
– The rate for First-Class Mail Flats is increasing from $0.94 to $0.98.

Letters and Postcards Table

First-Class Mail Parcels (Retail)

Important:  Retail prices are offered by the Post Office only.  Stamps.com customers will receive Commercial Base (Online Postage) prices.

– First-Class Mail Parcels (Retail) will see an overall price increase of 0.624% and the rate for parcels weighing between 0-4 ounces will be the same at $2.67.
– Also, there will be a 1 cent decrease in the additional ounce price for First-Class Mail Parcels (Retail) from $0.19 to $0.18.
– Adult Signature Service will become available for purchase with First-Class Mail Parcels (Retail).  Post Office prices will start at $2.67 for a 1 ounce parcel.

FCM

Note:  There are no proposed rate changes for First-Class Mail International.

Media Mail

– Media Mail will see an overall price increase of 1.135%.

Media Mail Table

Other Changes

– Standard Mail (commonly referred to as “junk mail”) will be rebranded as USPS Marketing Mail so as to better align the product name with business owners’ use of the mail class.
– Library Mail will see an overall price increase of 1.135%.
– Special services like Certificate of Mailing, Collect on Delivery, Return Receipt, Registered Mail and Signature Confirmation will also see an increase in 2017.

No Action Needed For Stamps.com Customers

Stamps.com will automatically update all USPS rates inside the software and web-based version (Stamps.com Online).  If you are a Stamps.com customer, no additional actions are needed and you will see the new reduced USPS rates automatically in January 2017.

USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines

October 7th, 2016 Comments off

Stamps.com Blog USPS Holiday Shipping DeadlinesStamps.com wishes you a prosperous holiday shipping season! A big part of being prepared for this busy time of year is knowing the dates you need to ship in order for packages to arrive on time for the holidays. The United States Postal Service sets holiday shipping cutoff dates for its various mail classes, which we’ve put together in convenient charts so you can plan—and ship—accordingly.

Stamps.com Blog Shipping Deadlines Charts

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.