Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Your Customer Service Guide

Having strong customer service principles to guide you can help offset the stress that often accompanies this busy season.

By Audrey Manning Nov 1, 2012
Photo by Eloise Renouf

While Etsy is an online marketplace, old sayings like “the customer is always right” still ring true. Having strong customer service principles to guide you can help offset the stress that often accompanies this busy season. When I reached out to sellers on the Etsy Success team for their customer service advice, they had a lot to say! I was impressed, touched, and inspired by the wise words they shared.

Here are some tips for relating to your customers, maneuvering tricky situations, and building customer service into your brand.

1. The Basics

Customer service begins with the basics. Having accurate item descriptions, clear and friendly policies, efficient shipping methods, and a shop that feels welcoming can draw potential buyers in and put them at ease. Share your story on your About page to establish a personal connection and pave the way for positive buyer-seller interactions."It's easy to get caught up in the selling portion but I think customer service starts with our listing descriptions, About pages, profiles and policies," says Natasha Wiegand of Loopedwithlove4U

Communication is key.

Solid communication throughout the transaction can help prevent confusion and build rapport. “Respond to conversations in a timely manner," says Amanda of TOMgirlApparel "Be sure to answer all of their questions and be polite, thanking them for their inquiry.”

Honesty is the best policy.

Set expectations for your customers that you can actually meet. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and consider how you would like to be treated if you were in her place. "If a potential customer is concerned about an item reaching them in time for Christmas, just be honest. Don't give them false hope, an honest answer will gain you and your shop respect, " says Claire of missbell:uk.

Go the extra mile.

Put in some additional effort now to reap benefits down the road. For example, consider not only the buyer, but the item’s eventual recipient. Adding a personal touch can make your shop stand out from the crowd."When an item is ordered as a gift I send an extra set of tissue paper and stickers for the purchaser to re-wrap the gift after they have checked it out," says Amanda.

2. Bumps in the Road

Whether it’s a case of a package gone missing, or a buyer misreading an item description, sometimes things happen that you, the seller, cannot control. When things go wrong, how do you make it right? Follow the tips here and make your way through the occasional hiccup with grace.

Blame no one, not even yourself.

Instead of placing blame, do what you can to make it right. By acknowledging the problem and taking practical steps to resolve the issue, you can make your customer feel heard. “If a package does go astray, do right by the customer even if it means a loss for you. It's not your fault that an order went missing, but it's certainly not the customer's fault either. Think about what will be better for your business in the long term," says Jennifer of livjewellery.

The customer is always right.

From SugarSidewalk's “easy peasy” return policies to damsontreepottery's "no questions asked" motto , many of the sellers I heard from were willing to brave the occasional loss for the sake of long-term gain.

“If something does go wrong with their custom order and they are not satisfied, I do offer to correct this at no cost to them," says Rishi of Sizzlestrapz. "Not only does this make my customer happy but it really makes me feel good too and I can sleep better at night knowing I did the right thing."

3. Beyond the Basics

Think customer service stops at checkout? Think again! Use these guidelines to connect with your customer base, encourage customer loyalty, and develop your brand.

Build a connection.

Excellent customer service gives buyers trust in your brand and plants the seed for a personal connection. “I have found that if a buyer is engaging in an email about their background or why they are interested in a photo, it helps to converse back about yourself and the inspiration behind the work," says Andrea Hazel-Ihlefeld of WildWildernessPhotos. "It helps build that connection.”

Foster repeat business.

Consider including a coupon code, free gift, or handwritten note as an incentive for buyers to return to your shop. “Always be prompt and helpful to any query — no matter how big or small," says Danielle of Colour Me Fun "You never know what an inquiry will lead to and that customer who didn't purchase from you now may just come back later."

Enhance your brand.

View the tone used when communicating with customers as an extension of your brand. If your shop could talk, would it be formal or playful? Make sure your communication style and visual presentation are in sync with your brand. “I don’t want to come across as stiff or formal so I keep my descriptions light and friendly," says Natasha. "A lot of moms and grandmas buy from me and I want them to feel comfortable with me."

Thanks to all who contributed! For more tips, check out the original thread.

Author

Audrey Manning

Audrey Manning grew up in Brooklyn, just blocks from the Etsy office. When not writing for Etsy’s Seller Handbook and the Etsy Success Newsletter, she can be found knitting for her Etsy shop, abrooklynheart. Keep up with her on Twitter and Pinterest.

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