Online Shop Customer Support Tips

“I keep getting an error message.”

“Where’s my download?”

“My product hasn’t arrived!”

Ahh… the joys of running an online shop! With the recent release of my book, Inspired Action, it was inevitable there would be some teething problems and I was prepared. No matter how efficient, organised and on top of our game we are, there will always be elements outside our control, the trick is to brainstorm and set up ways to minimise their impact for our customers.

We, as conscious entrepreneurs, can be so eager to want to share out products and services with the world and sure, it can be easy once we’ve got the beautiful website and an e-commerce system in place. The one thing that we can overlook, the thing that is always linked with a shop of any kind, is customer support.

The end goal of an online shop, in my mind, is to sell our offerings with the best of intentions, with soul, and this should be our approach to customer service too. There are some things that we can pre-empt and it’s important that we communicate them early on, such as giving clear instructions on how to download an audio product or e-book for example. In other instances, it can be helpful to have a few go-to tips up our sleeves in preparation for issues that may present themselves.

Terms & Conditions

If you’re running an online shop of any kind, spend some time thinking about the Terms & Conditions that are relevant to your products or services. Under which conditions will you offer a refund? When can people expect your product to arrive in the mail? What is your cancellation policy if your shop is based around an appointment-based service? Putting yourself in the seat of the customer will help you come up with a whole bunch of questions you can pre-empt and answer.

Your Terms & Conditions can be added to the end of your product description, similar to how I’ve set up my Website Support Packages. If your online shop software allows, you can add an overall shop agreement that the customer needs to agree to before completing their transaction. Another option is to add a separate page for FAQs and address these in a question-and-answer format.

Tips: Downloadable Products

“I didn’t receive my downloadable product!”

Often when you offer a downloadable product (or you’ve received one free in exchange for signing up to a newsletter list), the customer will be sent an email with a download link. Even with the best of intentions, this email can end up in their spam folder, prompting your customer to very quickly get in touch with you.

Yep, you’ve guessed it… the customer service response is to ask them to double-check that the email hasn’t been set to their spam folder. On top of this, I like to attach their download to the email so that they aren’t too put out having to look for the original email. Perhaps it goes without saying, but make sure that they have actually purchased your product before sending them the download!

Tips: Online Courses

“The video won’t play.”

“I can’t log in. I keep getting an error message.”

If you’ve lovingly poured much time and energy into creating an online course, there are bound to be some issues that present themselves. Make sure that your course does in fact work, that all of the links are correct, that the videos play successfully, that you’re able to log in to the members area, etc. If you’re confident that everything is functioning as it should, read on…

More often than not, most of these issues will revolve around your customer having an old version of their internet browser. This is particularly the case with people who are still using Internet Explorer (I know, right?! Okay, just a bit of judgement here on my part…).

Here are a couple of solutions you can offer these customers:

  • Install the latest version of their browser; or
  • Use a different browser. Here are a few to choose from: Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

If the customer is still having problems, they may need to use a different computer, particularly if their current one has an outdated operating system.

If none of these suggestions prove successful, you can either forward the issue to your website developer, or call it a day with this particular customer. This is when it pays to have a solid Terms & Conditions section for your online course. Are you prepared to offer a refund if the course doesn’t work for them?

Tips: Physical Products

“I didn’t receive my product!”

It’s a fact of life… things go missing and products don’t arrive. We’ve all experienced it at least once when ordering something online. Again, be clear in your Terms & Conditions about when an item should arrive at its destination (allow more time for international shipping). Are you prepared to send a replacement item if it fails to arrive?

To minimise the loss of valuable stock due to replacement orders, you may want to add a registered post option at checkout. You can even share the tracking code with your customer so that you both know where the product is in transit. This then gives you more leverage when a customer claims that they didn’t receive the item.


When it comes to customer service of any kind, offer tips and suggestions with understanding and a helpful voice. Pre-empt issues to ensure a smooth process for your customer. Test your online shopping experience and rectify anything that seems unclear. And remember that what is often obvious to you isn’t always obvious for your customer… make no assumptions!


About the Author:

I’m Ange, an inspired web designer who loves working with small businesses to take their websites to the next level of amazing. I work intuitively by listening to my clients' needs and communicate with language you can understand. You can view my creations here >

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