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Dash of Inspiration: More on Custom Requests

December 3, 2012
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A Dash of Inspiration, A Cup of Creativity by Doreen

More on Custom Requests

Corrie gave some great tips on her Nuts and Bolts: Handling Custom Requests last week, I thought I would expand a bit on that and offer some examples and tips from my own experience.

Customer Requests – Yes or No?

First thing you need to decide is whether you wish to accept customer requests.  There are a few things to consider here.  I know not all of you can respond quickly.  I think one of the reasons I have a good turn-around for custom requests is because being a designer is how I make my living, so from the time I get a request to the time the card is available in my Private Gallery is usually a couple of hours; so I’ve kept the customer’s attention and therefore make the sale.

  • Do you keep your original card files (not the jpg/png versions you upload) organized so they are easy to find and saved in layers so that changes are quick?  If you have to spend more than 10-minutes getting to the original file and making a quick change, then custom requests may not be for you.
  • How long would it take you on average from the time you get the response to the time you can create the changes?  In other words, if you work full-time and can only work on GCU cards on the weekends, it may not be worth your time to accept Custom Requests.
  •  How many as a minimum order is acceptable to you?  I have mine set for 5, for a year I had it set to 25 and here’s the thing; customers don’t pay any attention to that number.  So, if you say YES in your global preferences, understand that you will get requests for 1 card and be prepared to handle the request professionally whether you accept of decline the request.

Setting up for Custom Requests

Set up for this module can be found here:  Manage Store >> Image and Cards >> Global Preferences

Set the minimum order quantity.

Add a message to the module.  Use this message area to leave a professional message to communicate to the customer. Here is what I have in my message:

“Thank you for your interest in my custom cards. I will get back to you within 24 hours (except during weekends and holidays, when it may take a little longer). PLEASE NOTE: I may be getting in touch with you via my personal email – ?????.com – so be sure to check your spam folder if you haven’t heard back from me within 24 hours. Regards; Doreen Erhardt”

If you will be away on vacation for example; use this area to change your message to reflect that you will be gone from … to …, you can also turn this module off while you are away.

Why Accept Custom Requests?

For me it’s all about customer service.  I’m a customer of many stores and I know that sometimes the reason I will return to a particular store is not only because of the good quality, but also because I was respected as a customer. Questions I asked were quickly and completely answered, requests I made were responded to with a willingness to please, and I found those I communicated with knowledgeable, pleasant and professional.  These customer service qualities not only give me a reason to offer a positive rating to the store and product, but will also have me sharing my good experience with friends and family; thus offering a great network of potential new customers for that store.

If you open yourself up to Custom Requests, there is no doubt you will get the occasional request that you spent time on with the customer never coming through. If you simply can’t live with that, then ‘just say no’, but I think you’ll find that IF you respond within a few hours to the request, IF you make that simple change for only 1 card, and IF you get the customer their custom card within 24-hours of their request; you are not only likely to make that sale, but you are likely to have that customer return to your store the next time they need a card.

I have a woman who I asked me well over a year ago to put her friend’s name and age on a card.  It was quick and easy for me to do, and it made her day.  Since that first card, she returns to my store several times a year. Sometimes she just pops in to say hello and that she didn’t need customizing, but wanted me to know she found just what she was looking for; other times she doesn’t hesitate to request a quick change.  My good Customer Service skills have given me a long-time customer who probably tells her friends and family who then come to GCU for their cards.

I will also note that when I get a request from a customer that wants major changes, I communicate back and forth with them first as Corrie suggests, even then 50% of the time the customer doesn’t come through with the purchase, but these little changes which are quick and easy are almost always a quick sale!

So you decide if these are worth your time, who knows how many ‘customers for life’ you might attract in the long way!

Here is last week’s post if you missed it:  Nuts & Bolts: Handling Custom Requests.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2012 1:58 pm

    Good info to have. Thank you, Doreen 🙂

  2. December 3, 2012 9:51 pm

    Great tips, thanks for sharing Doreen!

    Today when the custom request feature is turned OFF the shopper CAN still send the artist a message. We’ve gone back and forth on changing that and NOT allowing any communication be sent if the feature is OFF.

    Do artists want to provide any feedback on that?

    • December 3, 2012 10:55 pm

      Thanks for the input Mindy … I didn’t know that, since I’ve never turned mine off.

      I think it makes sense that if an artist opts out of this feature, then there should be NO communication. I feel this is only fair to the customer who may be wasting their time and hoping on a hope which won’t come to pass – as well as fair to an artist who has opted out of this feature.

  3. Janet Lee Designs permalink
    December 3, 2012 11:36 pm

    I agree on that Mindy. It’s not fare to the customer, and what if the next artist does not do request either … It would turn them “OFF” on requesting from any artist. Thank you Doreen for more great tips!

  4. December 4, 2012 3:56 am

    I too agree with ‘Off’ so long as the “Contact the Artist” link is always available to them. If someone was really hopeful and had to have a specific card design they find then that avenue could still be a ‘hope + chance’ option for them. That much effort on their end and the artist just might decide to accomodate it. Just my 2 cents worth~ 🙂

  5. December 4, 2012 3:41 pm

    I agree, if an artist opts out of doing custom card requests, then we should not be receiving the email requests. There are times when an artist needs a break from card designing and doing custom card requests. I’ve listed a few scenarios below which I hope you will consider when making the option to opt out of custom card requests set in stone, where opted out is out!

    When an artist opts out of custom card requests and those request emails still come through from the customer, then I don’t want to have to communicate with the customer and remind them that I have opted out and then have to tell them to go find another card. I do not think this is good business, and it certainly isn’t good customer service. I would also not want the customer to be “put off” by me telling them I cannot do their request. I want them to come back to my store with a good experience, not a negative experience of me telling them I can’t do what they want.

    When an artist opts out of custom card requests because they are going on a vacation or are in the hospital, the artist may not be bringing their computer, design files, and software with them to these places. With that said, as it stands now, you send the custom cards through even though an artist has opted out. An artist would not have the means to communicate with the customer to let them know they have opted out and to go find another card. The customer could be waiting for days without hearing from the artist why the request isn’t being answered. During this scenario the artist needs a break from card designing/custom card requests and the “No” in the custom card requests should mean “No”.

    When an artist is not feeling well, and has opted out of custom card requests, they are just not feeling up to making the changes or able to correspond with the customer. This is another time the artist needs a break from card designing. So when we opt out, we should be out. I have had custom card requests still coming through this past year, when I opted out because I wasn’t feeling well. I wished I had been out with no requests coming through to me. But instead, the requests did come through to me and I struggled to find the files and get the changes made for the customer. I wanted to keep a positive customer service experience going from my store for the client, even though I didn’t feel good. It was at this time I really needed a break or time off from greeting cards/custom requests.

    So I agree, when we opt out of custom card requests, we should be out with no emails coming through to the artist.

    Thank you for your consideration to my comments.

    Sher

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