Dear Etailer…Please Communicate With Your Customers

Recently, I made several online cosmetic purchases, all of which went smoothly…except for one transaction that turned out to be an exercise in frustration.

So in this post, I thought I’d write about how etailers can improve the customer’s online ordering experience—from the perspective of a consumer.

5 Customer Complaints That Can Be Prevented With Good Communication

A quote I recently read on Retail Dive stated that “In retail, the sale isn’t the end point of customer conversion. In today’s omnichannel environment, retailers must follow through with a good supply chain experience to ensure the shopper’s emotional fulfillment.

Most of the time I have pretty good experiences with online retailers. So I was pretty shocked and frustrated when a rather well known cosmetic brand I ordered from totally dropped the ball at the point of conversion.

After completing my transaction on the beauty brand’s website, a screen popped up with the details of my order and a message informing me that I’d receive regular updates on the status of my order.

Assuming that a copy of the transaction would be sent to my email—as other retailers have done—I didn’t bother to print the screen with the order information. Unfortunately, I never received an order confirmation email. That’s complaint #1.

Complaint #2: The company didn’t keep its promise to update me on the status of my order. I’m a firm believer that if you tell someone you’re going to do something, then you’d better do it.

Businesses can NOT afford to tell a customer that it will do something and not follow through. It diminishes trust, and heaven knows mine was diminished with that one transaction.

The thing is, everything you put on your website communicates something about your brand. So make sure that you live by the words you put there.

Complaint #3: The company’s contact information wasn’t listed anywhere on its website. My only option for communicating with the brand was through the contact form. Oddly enough, the business hours were clearly posted, but no phone number was provided.

According to Fonolo, human interaction through phone calls is still the preferred way to deliver—and receive—optimal customer service.

I didn’t have the benefit of that particular option and believe me, I would have used it had it been available!

Complaint #4: The organization apparently had no best practice standards in place for customer response time. In fact, they didn’t bother to respond to my query at all.

That seems to correlate with a customer service study by SuperOffice indicating that 62% of companies do not respond to customer emails. This makes zero sense when you consider that the most important attribute of good customer service, according to customers’ themselves, is a fast response time.

It wasn’t until I contacted the brand through their Facebook page that someone from the company actually reached out to me. (Guess what was the first thing the support person asked me for? My order number, which I thought was oddly comical since they never emailed me one).

Complaint #5: The brand never followed up to see if I received my order (I finally did, btw). I didn’t feel like they really cared whether I got it or not!

If it was my business, I’d be contacting the client to say, “Hey, sorry your experience with our brand was a frustrating one. Here’s a coupon. We hope you’ll give us another shot to prove that your business matters to us.”

That didn’t happen. It’s too bad because According to Strategize Your Success, “Following up with customers and clients can be one of the most important business actions a business owner can take.”


I’ve ordered enough from other etailers to know what good customer communication looks like.

It involves open lines of communication throughout the entire online ordering process, along with followup communication after the sale. And It means that no customer has to experience the 5 complaints addressed above.

“Fulfillment can be more important than the . . . actual purchase because customers tend to most vividly remember the last thing that happened to them,”

Jeff Geoffroy, global product marketing manager for IBM Watson Commerce.

I’m just one customer. But in today’s competitive online environment, I don’t think brands can afford to lose ANY customers. As Chron points out, “Focusing on customer communication is important to the long-term success of any business.”

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Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.