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Winning talks customer service & jumping online

Appliances Online was awarded the honours of Best Customer Experience and Best Site Optimisation and Design at the Online Retail Industry Awards (OIRA’s) on Tuesday night, and CEO John Winning has told Dynamic Business his company’s success is due to its focus on customer service.

Taking home the award for best customer experience for the second year in a row, Winning said great customer service is its secret to success.

“Even though we are an online retailer, our model is one that builds old-fashioned customer service into every aspect of the shopping experience…being online doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with customers, we want to create loyal relationships that last into the next generation.”

According to Winning, the company’s online business model is very comprehensive. It listens to customer feedback and maintain a best price guarantee. It offers free delivery, phone service available 16 hours a day seven days a week, and 360 degree camera imaging technology to view products. Long after the product has been purchased, the Appliances Online team communicates with the customer to make sure they are satisfied.

For small businesses looking to move online, Winning suggests they assess their motives before setting up a site, and that companies should use the technology as a forum to foster a relationship with customers and give them a platform for feedback, as opposed to lowering company costs or limiting customer service.

“The Internet must be used to over-service, not under-service customers,” he said.

The best online forum for getting customer feedback, according to Winning, is social media. Currently with a Facebook community of more than 170 000, Winning said “social media has been unbelievably helpful in communicating with our customers. They let us know what they think, and we listen. Without the customer right in front of you it is hard to know what they want.”

“If we have 98 percent positive feedback, we find out what the two per cent negative feedback is and fix that two percent.”

Winning suggests approaching online business in a similar mindset to traditional retail, using radio and television ads and catalogues to get people onto the site. When it comes to getting visitors to buy, customer utility, a variety of stock and making the site easy to navigate are the most important things.

He also recommends those who are tentative about setting up an online site should not try to do it alone, but talk to an agency.

“Find out which ones know what they’re doing, tell them about your business and decide which ones will go the extra mile to help your business perform at its best. Make sure you can trust them.”

While doing all this, Winning urges businesses to keep empowering their staff and keep their business agile. Staff contentment is the biggest asset of any business and being able to adapt quickly to the changing online retail landscape is a necessity.

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Liz Trethowan

Liz Trethowan

Elizabeth Trethowan is an intern writer at Dynamic Business. Currently doing her masters in media and communications, she absolutely loves to write. Still enjoying the student lifestyle, she can often be found trying out new recipes in the kitchen or curling up for a good movie with friends.

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