Christmas is looming very near as we swing into October. So far we have completed our business plan, perfected our process and packaging, and lined up our vendors (see previous posts for more details). Christmas can get stressful for everyone and to relieve a little stress in both your life and your customers, it is important to stay on top of your shipping and your customer service.
Step 1: Have an ample supply of shipping materials
For a long time I was going to a local store to get my packaging. I was over paying and sometimes they were even out of stock. Here is my little shipping secret for quality inexpensive mailers with FREE shipping--STOCK UP!
Step 2: Update your shop announcements
During Christmas season it is important for your customers to be aware of your shipping deadlines. Include an estimated time it takes to ship out your items. I always over estimate just in case I make a mistake or have to redo an order.
Most shipping companies post shipping date deadlines in order to receive a package by Christmas. This is IMPERATIVE to post in your shop. This protects your reputation and gives your customers an accurate time frame in which they can expect their package to arrive. Be proactive!
Lastly, make sure to offer a faster shipping option in your shop. Many handmade venues do not allow those type of listing by themselves but you can make a note in your shop announcements that you offer faster shipping and to contact you for details.
Step 3: Customer Service
When you are buried in orders it is easy to let your customer service slide with unanswered emails and misplaced requests. There are some very simple things you can do to stay on top. First, decide on one method of communication with your customers. I recommend email because email allows you to organize and send multiple notices at once without muting your account. If someone contacts you through other means I often ask them to email me or I email myself with the information so that I do not forget the request.
Second, send out emails when an order is shipped. You can easily do this by copying each email address as you fill out packages. Copy all the addresses for that days orders and paste them (make sure to blind copy!) into an email. This allows the customer to easily notify you if there is a problem with their purchase or shipping by simply hitting reply. The faster they notify you the faster you can alleviate the issue.