Customer service/filling orders is time consuming

16 replies
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My site is really getting where I want it to be. However, to be honest, this is a ton of work. Alot of my work is delt with customer service issues---anwering emails, talking to customers on chat about the product, being engaged in my social media platforms with my followers. Occasional product returns. Not to mention designing graphics daily for all the image marketing necessary in today's world. I enjoy talking to customers etc---I really have received EXCELLENT response from my customers how delighted they were with customer service. But while I am chatting with customers about why to to buy widget X or Z---I should be doing internet marketing and growing this business.

Even filling orders---I have to do this manually---it takes time. One of my suppliers lets me send all my orders via one form daily. But ---i then don't get tracking codes for packages automatically.

The whole goal was to travel and work from anywhere. Still doable...but I have full 9 to 5 days. I think the answer is just keep it up, because eventually I can outsource some of this.

I feel like this system should be much more automated---but perhaps not. The next direction I go into---I would like a more "hands off" money maker--affiliate marketing etc. I really enjoy my work now. Advice?
#consuming #customer #orders #service or filling #time
  • Profile picture of the author alksense
    For submitting orders to suppliers I would recommend eComHub (it's in the Shopify app store).

    You can set it to automatically fwd POs to your drop ship suppliers every time an order for one of their products comes through on your site. You can also configure it so that when the supplier enters tracking information your store will automatically mark the order as "shipped" and fwd the tracking information to your customer.
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    • Profile picture of the author justray
      It sounds like you are really putting in the work. From what I understand, this is typical when running an ecommerce, product-based shop. I have yet to completely set up my ecommerce store, but hope to get all the pieces together shortly. Tell me, which package did you buy initially? Do you find it to be sufficient for your business?
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  • Profile picture of the author pavv
    Hi Hampton44,

    I can really feel for you because I've been there!! My first ecommerce store I had stock shipped to my home where I picked and packed daily. I worked a full time job though so I was heading to the post office every lunch break! Life was busy!

    The best advice I can offer you is to make yourself redundant from your business. (If you haven't already read the 4 Hour Work Week then I recommend it!)

    Advice from Anton above is a great example of 'how'. You want to either use software or people to replace you for the day to day stuff so you can focus on the big picture things like strategy and growing revenue. The way to do this with eCommerce is either drop shipping or using a fulfilment company,

    From memory you are using BigCommerce? If so you know how easy the UI is to use! Make some training videos and document your customer services processes, then get someone from the Philippines on it! (I use oDesk, Elance is another big one). For this type of work you can expect to pay $5-10 USD an hour for someone with experience working in the big customer service companies.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hampton44
    Thank you Anton---I will take a look at this app in Shopify. Pavv---yes, I just bought that book about 2-3 months ago and haven' started reading it...yet. You gave great advice. I have used Odesk workers in the past, but I feel I get burned each time. But--I am probably not doing things the right way. I will revisit all this info in a few weeks. Still setting up structure, SEO and attempting a new marketing idea daily.
    Justray--I am with Shopify and I paid the full year in advance to avoid shop fees and receive a discount. It seemed the simplest for me to use, and I am slowly learning some of the technical aspects. It really helps to have a few IT friends to get me out of a crunch.

    So --it is good to know I will be able to manage this a bit different shortly, or at least make every attempt to. Only so many hours in the day.

    "Because in the end, you won't remember the time spent working in the office, or mowing the lawn. Climb that damn mountain."

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  • Profile picture of the author justray
    Hampton44, what is the link to your site? It would be interesting to see the various sites members have created. A possible thread? Hmmmm?
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  • Profile picture of the author Hampton44
    no links

    "Because in the end, you won't remember the time spent working in the office, or mowing the lawn. Climb that damn mountain."

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  • Profile picture of the author Erik9595
    why dont you look into fulfilment services.

    they can pretty much take care of everything while you focus on business growth.

    JEM Marketing & Fulfilment Services | Fulfilment

    I used these guys. they helped me grow my business.
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  • Profile picture of the author Solid Commerce
    When it comes to eCommerce, automation is the name of the game as your operation grows.

    Unfortunately, you can't really automate stuff like customer service. In my humble opinion, it's the companies that make sure to offer that real, live, human touch when it comes to customer service. The ability to handle customer input with agility, grace, and your own personal stamp is invaluable, from a business asset perspective. This kind of stuff almost always winds up being a huge selling point.

    So what's that leave? The rest of your operation. I don't know how big your inventory is, how many channels on which you're selling, etc...but it sounds like you're getting close to the point where a solution to help you manage some of the more complicated operational aspects of your online selling.

    Something like Solid Commerce might actually help: Multi Vendor eCommerce | Multi Vendor eCommerce Platform Solid Commerce

    It'll help you manage your inventory and automate everything from customer management to shipping and fulfillment. If you want to get a bit more info, you're more than welcome to PM me.

    In general, though? My advice is to keep rocking it when it comes to your customer service. If you're already doing a great job in that regard, I'd hold onto that as tightly as possible.

    Hope this helps!

    _ Sean
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    • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
      I was reading something recently that opened my eyes a bit. When you create something like a website and you're doing all the work yourself, you've created a job. It's not so much a business because, like you said, you're stuck working 40 hours a week on it.

      It might be time to either think about hiring some people for easily automated tasks or partnering with someone who brings a lot to the table. It's tough for me to advertize, interact, and fill orders so I've found it beneficial to partner with people who can find customers and deal with them while I complete the work.

      You obviously won't be getting 100% of the profits but you'll be able to do more which lets you make more money. The reduced aggravation is definitely worth it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel J
    As Erik9595 said, it's probably time to look into a fulfillment service. I personally use FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) since it allows me to sell on Amazon as well as Ebay and my websites. The bonus is that anything sold through Amazon is FULLY automated- they take care of everything from payment processing, packing shipping, customers service and returns. (gosh, it sounds like I work for them doesn't it? I don't- I'm just happy with the service.)

    For my own websites, I provide the customer service personally. I too have been told by customers how much they appreciate the personal level of service they get. I cannot justify outsourcing that unless it's to someone local that I can take the time to TRAIN about my products and business philosophy. Customer service is one of your most important aspects, but there is not reason to fulfill your products yourself in this day and age. There are fulfillment centers that can fulfill orders better, faster and more efficiently than you probably can (no disrespect- I'm speaking from personal experience only). They can usually do it for about the same price also- or even cheaper (if they have discounted rates with UPS/Fedex etc). Hope this helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author duplication
    No one ever said that it would be easy. Read ebook Color Your World Crazy. This will Teach you how hard this business is if you dont plan.
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  • Profile picture of the author yoangov
    Since your website is getting where you want it to be, have you thought about outsourcing? If you are doing well, there will be a point when outsourcing is just mandatory if you want to keep on growing.

    Since you have been dealing with customers directly, it should be easy for you to write some comprehensive guides on how EXACTLY to treat customers, how to talk with them, etc. So write these guides, hire staff, fire the ones that do not perform well and keep on. Don't make your staff thinking too much, give them simple jobs. Once you make them think - they will leave you with your methods to start on their own.
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy Geldman
      I agree with other posters that a fulfillment outsourcer like FBA or Shipwire could be the way forward, if your margins allow. There are solutions that automate posting your orders to FBA e.g. AutoMCF, and Shipwire has its own marketplace/shopping cart connectors.

      It is possible to reduce the need for customer service by setting up an online self-service helpdesk/FAQs, and improving your information on the site about payment, shipping, order status and any other common questions.

      It's also possible to automate and improve the efficiency of customer service with CRM/email management systems. ReplyManager is an ecommerce-specific one.

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  • Profile picture of the author DWaters
    Yes, I agree that FBA may be something that can help you. If it would work for your niche you could send a portion of your inventory to Amazon. They would take care of everything after that. Shipping, returns, refunds, customer sat issues are all done by Amazon. They pay you weekly. It may be something to look into.
    You may also be able to outsource some of your other tasks. I have not done this but I have read that Odesk can be helpful.
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  • Profile picture of the author pacificfit
    I'm posting in this thread because it's on Shipwire so I thought someone here may have a lead. I'm hiring a shipping manager. This position requires good working knowledge of these 3 platforms: Shipwire, 1shoppingcart and Zendesk. Let me know if you have any recommendations or know of anyone!
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  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    I remember the days when I was doing a thousand dollars a day on eBay. I would spend four hours per day dong customer support, answering email and stuff. Then I would go to my j.o.b. and my wife and daughter would pack the orders. It was a lot of work, but I kind of enjoyed it. But if you don't find a way to outsource or automate it, you still have a full time j.o.b. To have a business, you have to have other people doing the work.

    Tim Pears

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