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Tips and Tricks: Custom Requests

July 24, 2012
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I hear from GCU that customer requests remain a popular option for shoppers looking for that extra special, personalized card design – yay!

I also hear that at the moment, a more than usual amount of custom requests are going unanswered. That’s not so yay.

If you’re going on vacation and taking a summer holiday, remember that you can alter your automatic message to customers by going to Manage Store > Images & Cards > Global Preferences. Here you can make changes to your custom request message such as, “On vacation and unavailable until 8/12. If your request can wait until then, I’ll contact you on my return.”

If you don’t want to accept custom requests at all for whatever reason, then go through the same steps above, except your custom request message should then be something like, “Thank you for your interest in my cards at GCU. At this time, I am not accepting custom requests. I’m sure another artists will be able to better accommodate you. Have a great day.”

At that point, if you STILL get a custom request (because let’s face it, people sometimes don’t read), then do not ignore it. Send the customer a message stating that you aren’t doing custom requests OR “reject” the request via the custom request tool (see below).

The point is, you need to make some kind of contact, not just let these requests languish.

And speaking of contact… some artists are hitting “REPLY” to the notification e-mail. This sends your reply to GCU, not the customer! Instead, you should be using the custom request tool on the GCU site.

You’ll find a link in the notification e-mail, but you can also go to Manage Store > Images & Cards > Manage Custom Requests where you’ll find a list of all your custom requests. You can contact requestor, accept request, and reject request. It works, so start using it.

If you have questions re: custom requests, let’s have ’em. There are plenty of experienced artists here who are willing to help.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2012 4:10 pm

    Just out of curiosity, how does GCU know that there are requests going unanswered … because they see this from their side or are customers complaining? In my case, I had reported a problem in June that a customer contacted me through my store. She was a bit frantic because she needed the cards soon and I wasn’t replying to her requests. The only problem was that I never received the requests, but she did have confirmation numbers. I never got an answer in the forum as to whether or not this was a glitch. But that was the reason in my case that my customer request went unanswered.
    Another reason …
    Can I assume if we don’t actually click the “Accept this Request” that it will give GCU a bogus analysis as to whether we are answering the requests? Sometimes I am consulting with the customer through emails and accepting their requests personally and forget to click the “accept the request”. Then it seems silly to do it after I already completed the card, because then they are going to receive an email saying I accept, right? I thought that was more for us to know where we are in the process, but I never thought about it throwing off the numbers on GCU’s side! Now I need a “completed” button to clear off a few of my completed requests without it contacting the customer; I don’t want them to be notified that I “accept” something that I completed last year 😉

    • July 25, 2012 7:35 am

      I don’t know the answer to your questions, I only know what I was told. I guess GCU gets some kind of report re: custom requests, and if I had to make a further guess, that report’s going to come from the custom request tool.

      Corrie

    • July 26, 2012 8:09 pm

      Hi Christie,
      Hope to answer your q’s here. I think many of these will answer some of Kati’s questions as well.

      Recently we are seeing an unusally high number of unaccepted custom requests. We “see” these a few ways:
      1. via an internal reporting tool that shows the status on all custom card requests
      2. via emails from shoppers asking about the status of their requests
      3. an additional sign is when we see shoppers submitted identical duplicate requests

      So, yes, artists should click “Accept Request” before any work is done. This acceptance does launch a “Your Request has been Accepted” email to the shopper and shows GCU it is “In Progress”. Similarly when a request is complete you should click “Mark as Complete” (this does NOT launch an email to the shopper).

      There are times when you might want to communicate w/ the shopper before offically accepting the request. If the additional details the shopper shares reveals that the request is not a project you will take on then you would instead Decline the request.

      As for artists not receiving the shopper’s requests, the biggest issue we’ve seen with this is shoppers not confirming their request. After their request is placed we send them a confirmation email to ensure a) deliverability and b) validity.

      We alert them to look for this email and they must click the confirmation link to complete their request. Specifically this:
      Your request (#3519) has been received but is not yet confirmed.

      We’ve sent an email to to confirm this request. Please add services@greetingcarduniverse.com to your address book to ensure delivery.

      Note: The artist will not be notified of this request until you’ve confirmed it from your email.

      Needless to say there are many shoppers who do not confirm their request. Unconfirmed reqeusts do not get sent to the artists – no need to send you on a wild goose chase.

      Lastly is the general issue of email deliverability. Unfortunately something we all have to deal and live with. We have designed the process to be as effective as possible with email deliverablity issues in mind.

      And saving the most annoying for the very last, yes, there are times when the site or the Custom Request Tool simply are not working correctly. We appreciate artists reporting any odd happenings and we work on resolving these asap.

      As a summary we see the status of Custom Requests as:
      Submitted – Unconfirmed
      Confirmed – New (shopper confirmed)
      In Progress (artist accepted)
      Card Uploaded / Created
      Complete
      Declined/Rejected

      • July 26, 2012 8:59 pm

        Thanks, Mindy.
        So, there is a “Mark as Complete” button??? Where is it?
        I only see, contact, accept and reject.
        Thanks!

    • July 26, 2012 9:10 pm

      You should see “Mark as Complete” as an option after you’ve accepted the request.

  2. Kati Cheldelin permalink
    July 24, 2012 4:31 pm

    Hello Corrie,

    I get a fair amount of custom requests and for the most part really like the new custom request tool. I enjoy the challenge of creating a special personalized card with the customer. And most all of the special request cards I have collaborated on with the customers have resulted in sales and often times a return customer – Yipee!

    However, you forgot to mention that sometimes the tool does not work correctly. There have been a number of times for me when I cannot get my reply to go through. It does not show up at all in the full thread view. Or, my reply seems to go through only to discover later that the customer did not receive it, and it is no longer showing up in the full thread view.

    I always try to report these missed communications in the GCU Support forum. Mindy saved the day once on a large sale by putting me in touch with the customer through regular email.

    A number of times the customer has tried to contact me through the custom request tool and I have not received the request through the tool. The reason I know this is when they did not receive my reply, they contacted me through my store front “contact this artist” link and made a second request there. And the quirky thing was on one of these requests (after I’d worked with the customer via regular email and made a sale on the custom card) showed up a couple of weeks later in the custom request list.

    Even with these challenges, the new custom request tool is super! It is so much better than the old method of regular email contact. I do have a few questions.

    1) Should I click the “accept request” before or after I make the first contact with the customer? Or, does it make any difference?

    2) Does the customer receive some kind of notification from GCU after I click “accept request” or “reject request” or is that just an internal step in the procedure?

    3) On the Custom Card Request Thread page does it matter where you click reply? There is a reply link right after the customer’s message and there is also a +Reply link at the top of the page.

    Thanks for bringing this subject to Tricks and Tips. The GCU Community Blog continues to be an endless and excellent source of information, support and inspiration for all of us.

    • July 26, 2012 9:08 pm

      Hi Kati,
      Glad to hear that you are getting a lot of requests and return business!

      In continuation from my response to Christie:
      1. Yes, you should officially accept the request. You decide if it’s before first contact or after you’ve further identified their needs. This does send an email to the shopper telling them “it’s a go” and to GCU that you have receive the request and taking action.

      2. Yep, they get an email with the accept and with the reject. You are able to (and should) include a reason for the reject/decline. ie: “Thank you but unfortunately I do not have the original artwork so I am unable to make these changes for you”.

      3. I believe both of these +Reply links do the same exact thing.

      As for the 2 issues you’ve experienced:
      1. Incomplete or Not Sent Replies & Messages – this seems to be a infrequent bug, isolated but a real pain when working with a request. I do recall us fixing a bug where the message content did not allow special characters and was wreaking havoc.

      2. Non Received Requests – this major culprit with this is the shopper not confirming their request via the confirmation email. However this has also been victim to

      Keep up the great work and making this process work for all of us! This is one service that is a great differentiator for GCU vs the “big guys” – the power of our artist community!

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