INTERVIEW: Overclockers UK cranks up customer service

The reseller talks about the challenges of working online
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Online reseller Overclockers UK says it's refreshed its approach to customer service to focus on offering a better return strategy and easier communication with staff.

PCR sat down with the firm's Mark Purdy to find out how business is going.

Has it been a good 2012 for Overclockers so far?
2012 has brought many exciting new prospects and opportunities for us at Overclockers UK. In January the company was purchased by a private equity firm who are investing and building on the success which we have achieved in the last 13 years.

PCR visited the Overclockers stand at the Gadget Show. It seemed to be absolutely packed full of products and visitors – how useful do you find events like that to reach out to customers?
The event presented the perfect way to show off manufacturers’ products along with our own gaming systems. It was a great chance to introduce new consumers to Overclockers UK and explain who we are and what we can do for them.

Have you got many other consumer events coming up?
In the near future we are looking to attend more consumer events; the next most likely will be the Multiplay Iseries LAN event which attracts 3,000 avid gamers which are our direct customer base. This is a great opportunity to show off the latest hardware to customers who really understand the technology and how it can advantage themselves and others. As a gamer myself, I used to attend the LAN events so I can understand how a bond between a customer and company can become stronger and will put them freshly in the front of their minds next time they need to make a purchase.

How do you approach customer service? Working online must have its own challenges.
From the beginning of 2012 we have had a complete refresh in the way we deal with our customer service. Recently we have introduced a 14-day satisfaction guarantee with any item sold on the website, giving customers an extra seven days from the standard seven-day DSR to return items which are unwanted or faulty. We have also started to include complimentary gifts within our orders such as little packets of Haribo as just something a little extra to put a smile on our customers’ faces.

Is this something that Overclockers works on a lot? How do you train your staff?
I would love to say that problems never happen, unfortunately it’s not always the case and with over 5,000 lines of stock and thousands of orders per week, issues do occur. We are training our staff to deal with the problems as quickly and smoothly as possible with the highest level of customer service. Each case is investigated and procedures are put in place to minimise the chance of the problem being repeating. We also host a customer service section on our forums which our team respond to on a daily basis, it’s a great way to get in touch and it makes our customers feel more comfortable knowing
they have direct lines of communication to us.

Is there anything else that you do to try and stand out from the competition?
From the beginning of 2012 we have introduced a much wider product range featuring rich descriptions and images to help the customer make the right decisions in the products they are purchasing. We hold all our stock in our warehouse ready for dispatch and not EDI feeding, giving our customers more trust in our company. We are also getting more and more exclusive rights for products in the UK and this puts us apart from the current line listings of competitor sites. We also host one of the UK’s largest hardware forums which hold nearly 100,000 members who get special deals and offers which are exclusive to the forums.

The forum must be a fantastic marketing opportunity for you?
Yes – with nearly 100,000 members and 16 million posts it is a highly regarded informational database and social networking hotspot. The forums offer advice to customers who are looking to make a purchase or may be looking for solutions to computer hardware problems. Exclusive deals are posted within the forums to keep our members feeling unique and for customers with over 250 posts they get free shipping for life. Our team are all enthusiasts in computing hardware so we do daily monitoring and help out members who need questions answering.

Have you got anything new and exciting coming up in the product range?
Our product range is always expanding, and we are proud to announce that we now stock the UK’s largest range of cases and cooling. We want to offer a broad range to our customers, giving them the options of all their favourite brands. We are listing various exclusive products, such as the brand new Bitfenix micro-ATX case called the Prodigy which has a very impressive design and is already proving to be very popular.

Is Overclockers branching out into any new sectors at the moment?
With the constant growth of the company, we will soon be requiring bigger facilities. This is something which is already in process and plans are heading us closer towards the town centre, making it more convenient to stop by and shop. We are planning to have a brand new shop front which will be showcasing manufacturers’ products and providing various services. Customer and product reviews are going to be a heavy focus for us and we aim to build a very solid review profile by the end of the year. With our upcoming improvements it will be interesting to read how our customers feel about all the changes.

Do you think the rise of tablets and smartphones has affected the PC market – ie your site is largely targeted at enthusiast PC owners, but there are more and more ‘casual’ computer users now – do you see the enthusiast sector declining?
As we deal with a very specialist market, tablets and smartphones are not powerful enough to be used in what our customers want from a gaming PC and as such they will never be able to compete with the performance and power which they currently provide. Our enthusiast sector is as strong as ever with the recent release of Intel’s 3rd Generation Ivy Bridge processors and Nvidia’s latest high-end graphics cards and we will remain focussed on the high-end hardware.

How do your buyers bring in new products? Do you go to trade shows?
Our purchasers are all computer enthusiasts and very proactive seeking out the latest and greatest technology. They keep up-to-date with manufacturers alongside attending trade events such as Computex in Taiwan to which we sent out three representatives. With the expansion of our line listings, we’ll be introducing many unseen products within our already huge choice for customers.

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