Since starting our own E-commerce site, Kittat.se, my business partner and I have made it a habit to always deliver awesome customer service and selling via Tradera (which is the Swedish e-bay) we have managed to keep our ratings to a minimum of 4,8 out of 5 since we started. The main reason of lower raitings have been our high shipping costs, which is calculated on the average order instead of individual item (In other words it the ratings are not that surprising). Most of the time we’ve had the score 4,9 which we had at the time of writing.
If a customer have ever complained about a product, we have made a refund, if they had questions before a purchase we have tried to answer quickly and if we have make a mistake we have tried to correct it as soon and well as possible.
The biggest issue we’ve had so far is selling via two sites without having an automatically connection to the stock level, which have made us sell the same item twice at a few occasions (We sell unique items, so there are never more than one avaliable) This is what happened in this specific occasion.
A customer purchased two products of us, one that we could not deliver because the stock level was wrong. I wrote to the customer and asked if she wanted to replace the missing product with something else and she said no. So I told her I would make a refund for the amount of the missing product and send the other product right away.
Only then, I got another email from the customer where she asked me to refund the shipping as well, since she only accepted that high shipping cost because she bought one product. I said no.
Why did I do that? It went against everything else that we had always done: trying to make the customer happy, always working for the insight that the customer is always right. So why didn’t I refund the shipping to make the customer happy?
It comes down to a few things, all which could be argued against. If the customer had asked for the discounted shipping in her first email I would probably have given it. But since she did it after I had already sent the product it felt like she was taking advantage of our good will instead of her genuinely feeling that the shipping cost was too much. Thus I wanted to see if I could offer her something which would make her come back and therefore begin a lasting relationship. So I offered her a discount on her next order instead.
She refused to accept that, with the argument that she would never purchase from us again since we didn’t discount the shipping. Giving me the alternative to refund the shipping now when I already had made her ”angry” or just let it go. I chose the later.
I probably lost a customer that day and looking back I should have discounted the shipping even though that would not guarantee she would come back. At least she would have been a happy previous customer if I had done that. Well.. You learn as long as you live.
What would you have done? Would you have discounted/refunded the shipping right away? Or would you have tried the discount at the next purchase? And what would you have done if the customer declined that?