December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

The Customer`s Always Right (Even on the Internet)

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“The difference here is that we are trying to personalize what’s on the computer screen just like I knew all about my customers when I was in the restaurant business,” Morfogen says. “When it comes to good customer service in e-commerce either merchants get it or they don’t. I think we do.”

Chicken soup for the retail soul

Having made a career as an advocate of shoppers’ rights and testifying before numerous government committees on consumer awareness issues, Edgar Dworsky is a pretty good judge of what Web merchants can do to enhance customer service. His advice includes:

Honesty. “Customers don’t like surprises. If the item isn’t in stock, don’t advertise it as if it is.”

Upfront pricing. “One of the biggest turn-offs is hidden fees. Customers are lured in by a low price, but than get hit with sticker shock at checkout because of surcharges, shipping and handling and other fees. The price should include all of the merchant’s fees and additional charges upfront.”

Prominent policies. “Customers shouldn’t have to dig to find privacy, shipping, handling, order cancellation and return information. Shoppers should never be more than a click away from finding your policies on the home page.”

The basics. “Every Web store should provide the customer with some method of tracking their order and the merchant should e-mail a confirmation number to the shopper once they’ve made a purchase. It’s basic stuff, but it’s surprising how many merchants aren’t doing this.”

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