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28 January 2014

New blog design and branding!

You may have heard the not so subtle hints, you may have even seen a sneak peek of the new branding but I can now officially reveal my new blog design, ta da!

The gorgeous banner, branding and colour scheme has been designed by Studio Rokit, an awesome creative design agency. The beautiful blog site design and layout has been created by the equally awesome Magic Feather Designs. Both worked tirelessly for me to get the right look, feel and layout and I'm so happy with it. Thanks guys, you rock! someone pass me a tissue, it's too much!

Studio Rokit has written a wonderful blog post, giving insight into the style and design influence behind the rebranding of Adventures and Tea Parties. It's a great read and you can find it here.

If you're looking for a new blog design and/or rebrand, I honestly cannot recommend these guys enough!

11 January 2014

Starting an online shop, part 8 continued: Feedback and Thick Skin

Hi everyone!
As promised, here is the last post in the Starting an Online Shop series, which continues on from yesterday's post. Today, I'm focusing on customer service in relation to negative feedback.

When dealing with negative feedback always remember that the customer comes first. Even if you disagree with their comments, always put yourself in their shoes and offer them the best customer service possible. 

There are a few top tips I've learnt along the way:

  • Don't leave you customer waiting. Reply to them ASAP! If you're unsure what to say, take a break for a couple of hours, then draft a reply before hitting send.
  • Your reply should ask your customer what they would like e.g. a full refund, a replacement etc.
  • Always be professional, courteous and polite.
  • Make the return/refund/replacement process as easy and as quick as possible for your customer.
  • Offer something that will encourage your customer to shop with you again. For example, a special discount off their next purchase or a complimentary product.

Through being approachable, understanding, efficient and professional, most customers will be happy with such a first class service. I say most because there are always some who won't be happy no matter what you do. For those particular customers, as long as you've given them excellent customer service throughout, then you simply have to not worry about them. You can't make everyone happy but you can certainly make most happy.

On a final note, with all this talk about negative feedback, don't forget to focus on and be proud of all the positive feedback you receive. You deserve it!

On that note, that's it for this series. Thanks to everyone who has followed along and also joined in, providing excellent, extra tips! I really hope this series has been just a tiny bit helpful to those of you thinking of starting an online shop. I've really enjoyed writing it and I've certainly learnt alot myself. Best of luck to all of you who have decided to go for it and start an online shop! I can certainly say it's the most awesome ride, so enjoy it and don't forget to stop and breath every now and then as it sure can be a rollercoaster!

10 January 2014

Starting an online shop, part 8: Feedback and Thick Skin

Hello folks! 
This final part of my Starting an Online Shop series is split into two parts, so that it's not overwhelming! Part two is coming tomorrow and will focus on customer service. Today I'm looking at negative shop feedback and how you can use it positively.

Setting up an online shop is hard work. It takes numerous hours, sleepless nights and continual practice to improve your products, constantly market them, keep on top of all the admin and finances and so on. After all that it's pretty gawling when you receive some negative feedback from a customer.

"But it was fine when I sent it out!"
                              "It's never fallen apart before!"  
                                            "How on earth does it look cheap after all the hours of work I put in?!"

Whatever the feedback, it's utterly heart breaking when it happens and unfortunately, I'm sorry to say, it will happen. I don't know one online business that hasn't received at least one bit of negative feedback. But don't worry, I'm pleased to say there is light at the end of the tunnel, so don't throw in the your towel just yet!

Here are three key things I've learnt from receiving negative feedback:

1) Don't EVER quit based on one or several pieces of negative feedback
2) Use the feedback to improve your products
3) Provide the BEST customer service possible

The first bit of negative feedback I received I actually discovered when looking through the reviews on my NOTHS shop. I was so unbelievably shocked and upset, to the point that I decided to quit. After sobbing my eyes out and thoroughly throwing the towel in, followed by a good nights sleep, I decided I actually loved running my shop and I just couldn't let one bit of criticism stop me from putting up the closed sign. I had to find a way to rectify the problem.

The product in question was one of my handkerchiefs, so I decided to go back to the drawing board and follow those first steps of research and practice, taking with me the knowledge I'd picked up along the way.

I researched different sewing techniques, tested a range of fabrics and practised, practised, practised! After weeks of work, I felt the product was much improved but I couldn't be sure. I needed a second opinion. That's when I decided to ask you, my lovely blog readers, to review my product. So, I ran a competition for three of you to win three personalised handkerchiefs each. The only proviso being that the winners had to complete an annonymous questionnaire on each handkerchief (made in different styles), so that I could get valuable feedback. I realised what I was actually doing was product testing. Big companies do it all the time and I can now see why. 

It was fascinating seeing the completed questionnaires - what worked about the handkerchiefs and what didn't. Straight away to further improve my product design and even the gift wrapping options too.

Initially it was scary waiting for the questionnnaires to come back but it was one of the most helpful things I've ever done. I now feel more confident about my product. I also now know that all feedback should be used constructively to continually improve all products with.

So, my message to you is this - don't throw in the towel when some criticism comes your way. Use it as valuable feedback to help improve your products and therefore the future of your business.

I hope that helps. Tomorrow I will be continuing this post, focusing on providing the best customer service possible, so stay tuned!

5 January 2014

Love, love me do!

I'm really excited (and nervous - what if no one likes them?! eek!) to be sharing my new Love Heart Rings, ta da!

These cute hearts have been hand embroidered on to cream calico before being attached to a silver plated, adjustable ring. Available in three different colours, you can pick them up in my Notonthehighstreet and Etsy shops. 

I hope you like them!

4 January 2014

It's important to stop

Working a full time job and running a full time blog and business sure can take its toll, both mentally and physically. That's why it's important to stop, take stock and recharge the batteries.

Only having the standard three days off for Christmas, I knew I had to close up my shop at a reasonable date, so that I had enough time to fulfil orders and give myself some evenings and one whole weekend off. Otherwise I would have a major energy melt down.

It was very hard not to keep my shop open until the 11th hour but I managed to stick to my guns. As a result, I had a relaxing Christmas, saw friends, spent a whole day watching films and even managed to not only finish knitting my scarf but also whip up a hat out of the left over yarn!

After my break I now feel ready for 2014! 
With this burst of energy, I've decided this is a year for knocking on doors, metaphorically speaking, and seeing where it takes me. 

What are your hopes for the new year?


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