Written by Heather Reimer

The day is coming soon when every web wanderer goes shopping online without a care. A day when nobody hesitates for even a microsecond before entering their credit card information and clicking on "BUY".

But atrepparttar moment, only 40% of all Internet users are doing so. The other 60% still want to have their purchases firmly in hand atrepparttar 109077 cash register before opening their wallets.

So how do you, as an Internet entrepreneur, overcomerepparttar 109078 ultimate e-challenge? How do you reach out and comfortrepparttar 109079 nervous andrepparttar 109080 hesitant?

The answer is surprisingly simple and inexpensive, but rarely used to its best effect: communication. Specifically,repparttar 109081 things you communicate to your customers about your service/product andrepparttar 109082 WAY you express them.

Think aboutrepparttar 109083 atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable when you go shopping... howrepparttar 109084 staff treat you at your favorite store... how did they win your trust and your business?

Most online shoppers are attracted by a casual style of information presentation. Imagine how you would pitch your product ifrepparttar 109085 client were seated right in front of you. Actually trying this with a friend or coworker can help clarify your thoughts. Then write it that way (preferably withoutrepparttar 109086 ums and ahs!) Getrepparttar 109087 text proofread carefully... nothing diminishes respect like a page full of spelling mistakes!

Want to really connect with your visitors? Introduce yourself or another key person inrepparttar 109088 company by using a real name and photograph. This brandsrepparttar 109089 site as belonging to a real, live person and creates a subtle bond.

An "About Us" page isrepparttar 109090 perfect place to build on that feeling. Here's where you explain what compelled you to start your e-business, what your goals are, your business ethic and why customers should deal with you instead of your competition. In fact, a short 3- or 4-line version of that same text can be displayed onrepparttar 109091 bottom of each page of your site as a sort of signature.

And never forgetrepparttar 109092 best free confidence-builder ever invented:repparttar 109093 testimonial. Include as much information as you can aboutrepparttar 109094 source ofrepparttar 109095 testimonial: first and last names, city of residence, business name or URL if applicable. (Get permission first) This lends much more credibility than, for example:

"Loved your online underwater basket weaving course!" JB, USA.

Then put those quotes in high traffic locations. Don't make your customers search high and low for them because most won't bother.

Brag a little... If your site is affiliated with or has been recognized by other organizations, get permission to use their logo on your index page. Same goes for any awards you've received. Those little official-looking buttons and logos breed trust because they ARE official looking and because respected institutions stand behind them!

Customer Service: Your Advantage

Written by Bryan Marye

So, you don't have a multi-million dollar advertising campaign? You don't have a staff of hundreds, venture capital backing or someone from Star Trek as your spokesperson? Then perhaps it's time to look into one ofrepparttar advantages that you do have over these e-commerce giants..... customer service.

You might wonder how a small company can hope to give better customer service than these heavily staffed, heavily funded e-giants. Believe it or not, it may be your lack of size, that just might give yourepparttar 109076 edge.

Think about your average customer service experience in an off-line setting. Where do you usually haverepparttar 109077 kinds of customer service experiences that are so positive, you come away raving to your friends and co-workers? While I can't answer for you, I can tell you thatrepparttar 109078 overwhelming majority of my experiences of this nature have come with small businesses, often very small. Conversely, I can also say that as a rule, my biggest CS (customer service) nightmares have come withrepparttar 109079 biggest companies. Of course, there are always exceptions, but this theory has proven to be surprisingly consistent for me. I would bet that if you compile a quick mental list of your best and worst experiences as a customer, you might find this to be true for you as well.

The problem with large companies is usually a volume issue. Many of these businesses have such a large volume of CS inquiries, that they simply don't haverepparttar 109080 manpower to adequately provide timely and efficient service. Often, it is difficult to even findrepparttar 109081 proper channel for which to take your CS issue. Large e-commerce companies aren't immune to these kinds of issues. In fact, they are often even less prepared to handlerepparttar 109082 flow of questions and comments that come in from their site on a daily basis. Many of these companies experience massive volume of traffic to their sites. A nice problem to have, but a problem that can often leaverepparttar 109083 customer out inrepparttar 109084 cold.

A recent Gartner study surveyed 50 top-rated internet retail sites on their customer service readiness and effectiveness. The results were very telling. Not one of these 50 sites ranked as excellent with regards to customer service readiness. 23% graded out as average, and 73% were rated below average, and 4% rated poor.

Cnet quoted another recent study by Resource Marketing which showed similar results. "Wal-Mart online is a maze, Williams-Sonoma makes customers fill out applications every time they shop, and KBkids.com automatically sends new customers its electronic newsletter, whether they ask for it or not." Caroline Cofer, a spokesperson for Resource Marketing added that many of these large merchants are "making some scary mistakes."

Now, with many of these large e-tailers streamlining operations in order to stay afloat, it is difficult to imagine customer service improving. In fact, customer service issues on-line have become such an issue, that an entire sector has evolved to deal withrepparttar 109085 problems. Companies such as Egain Communications and Kana Communications offer automated, CRM (customer relation management) solutions. Many of these automated services are ASP (application service provider) models that feature multi-channel response e-mail systems. In other words, software that attempts to emulate a real human. On one hand, these companies should be admired for their vision, and will probably be rewarded with booming sales. Onrepparttar 109086 other hand,repparttar 109087 technology has a way to go before it is a replacement for human interaction. Have you ever sent a question to a site's customer service center, and receivedrepparttar 109088 answer torepparttar 109089 wrong question? More than likely, this wasrepparttar 109090 result of automated CRM software that was unable to properly interpret your question and sendrepparttar 109091 correct response.

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