Strong customer relationships are the backbone of any business. When your customers are happy and satisfied, the more likely they are to come back with return business, share social media and word-of-mouth recommendations, and be more patient with merchant errors.
An important key is to ensure that merchant errors and missteps don’t happen during the first contact with the customer. When this happens, the customer gets a sour taste which can lead to a decline in the merchant-customer relationship, resulting in transaction disputes and chargebacks.
Of course, customers are susceptible to making errors, although generally there is little room for customer forgiveness with merchant errors. This intolerance for mistakes speaks to the need for merchants to focus on establishing outstanding customer relationships at the outset and continuing to make customer service a high priority.
Your Customer Service Team
Here are some important points that all merchants should adhere to and reinforce with their customer service team:
- Customer service doesn’t happen once, it’s an ongoing process and relationship, occurring before, during, and after the purchase.
- Good customer service requires that time and resources be directed to comprehensive and regular employee training.
- Consistent revenue depends on customer service, which should be part of internal reviews on how to improve an organization’s fiscal health.
- Customer service can change a customer’s opinion of a merchant—for good or bad.
Now, what does all of this have to do with chargebacks? Stated plainly, good customer service is a merchant’s first line of defense against disputes and chargebacks. The better a merchant communicates with customers to proactively prevent disputes from occurring, the better for everyone involved.
Customer Service Practices for Chargeback Prevention
To make things easier for the customer service team and to prevent customer stress and dissatisfaction, merchants would do well to remember key aspects of friendly fraud and chargeback fraud prevention.
- Order review: Before finalizing an order, review it carefully to ensure there are no duplicate orders in the system or immediate emails from the customer following the order. Duplicate orders may indicate a problem with payment processing that can result in a future dispute.
- Clear return/refund policy: Make your e-commerce return/refund policy clear, visible, and accessible on your website and in your email confirmation. This practice can be vital in your preparation for a dispute response.
- Move quickly: In the case of a refund, act as quickly as possible. Let the customer know the status of the refund and provide clear direction to communicate with someone in customer service if necessary. A slow refund response or no response can compel the customer to file a dispute out of frustration and lack of information.
- Shipping options and policy: Provide customers a date or estimated date of arrival. This helps to prevent the customer from filing a dispute, should they become frustrated because it took too long for the item to arrive. If possible, provide a tracking number and shipping confirmation email to the customer.
- Contact the customer: With a proven solution in place, it’s likely that merchants can see when an unexpected or large order has been placed from a customer. When this happens, contact the customer to confirm this purchase. If the order turns out to be invalid, there’s a good chance you’ll prevent a theft and a subsequent dispute.
- Be flexible with the rules: There are times when it pays to override the refund/return or cancellation policy and give the customer the benefit of the doubt. Just as merchants make mistakes, customers do as well. Review the customer’s order history and use your best judgment when deciding how rigid to be in applying company policies.
These recommendations are just a start for merchants who are focused on making customer service a priority. Each business niche has its own inherent customer service recommendations and best practices. But the underlying principles are clear: communicate, be available, be responsive, and be personable.
Smart Solutions for Proactive Customer Service
Supporting your customer service team and providing them the resources to be proactive with customers requires access to key customer information. Using a solution such as Verifi’s Order Insight can bridge the knowledge gap, making it possible to develop strong customer relationships that you can rely on year-over-year.