Archive for customer service

The Importance of Feedback (1)

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A few months ago I had a disaster.

I received six (yes, 6) negative feedbacks in a period of 2 or 3 weeks!

I had prided myself on 6,000 positives and 0 (zero) negatives so it was a shock, to say the least.

What had gone wrong?  Well, I sell a small item, lots of them, and I had always used the Royal Mail’s normal letter rate.  For 2 days the Royal Mail decided that they should have been sent as ‘large letters’.  They were wrong.  I had letters checked at the local Post Office, they were ‘normal’.

However, the damage had been done.  There was an immediate reduction in sales and it took a couple of months for the position to improve.

How we react to negative feedback is important.  Once the damage has been done, and if the buyer will not withdraw it (2 of mine did) all you can do is to try to minimize the damage.  These are true examples of negative feedback from fellow sellers and how they reacted;

Feedback; Did not say in the item description anywhere the ******* was a minature version

Reaction; Er Nothing.

Another one.

Feedback; No ******** DVD the case was empty!!!! heartbroken, Fraudsters

Reaction; THIS WAS ADDRESSED AT THE TIME. GET A LIFE!

Another;

Feedback; I needed to pay extra postage!

Reaction; Refund given, excess postage came as a surprise, after 4 years without a problem

Which reaction gives you the best impression of the seller? (Hopefully, the last one as it was mine…..)  I happen to know the product in the first case.  There are 2 sizes and the model number in the listing was fopr the normal size. i.e. the seller was selling the wrong product! The second reply is just awful!  At least with mine I showed what I did to rectify the problem (a full, no quibble refund) and tried to explain that it had never happened before (but then it did, 5 times as I said) .

However peed off you feel at the feedback, however unjustified think about what you need to do.  If you can not get the feedback withdrawn with the agreement of the buyer then your aim has to be to reduce the damage to your reputation and reassure potential buyers.

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Avoid TIM WOOD – At all costs!

Tim Wood is a dreadful chap.  We should all avoid him at all costs, for the sake of your sanity and bank balance.

Tim, of course, is not a real person, it is an acronym for the 7 wastes as identified in the Lean Manufacturing philosophy.  Although LM is directed at manufacturing, obviously, we can all learn from it, even selling.  These are the wastes.

T is for Transport.

When selling it is obvious that you need to reduce your transportation costs.  Use the cheapest reliable delivery method you can.

I is for Inventory.

If you sell 10 widgets a week and your wholesaler supplies with a 2 week lead time then why ever hold more than 30 widgets?  Holding lots of inventory is bad for your cash flow.  Businesses fail through not understanding cash flow, understand yours and hold the correct inventory levels.

M is for Motion.

Hold everything you need to complete the sale close together.  If you are working from home then you need your stock, postage labels, wrapping paper, envelopes close together to avoid wasting time and motion.  Make completing sales a chore and it will not be long before you stop selling.

W is for Waiting.

In selling terms this is close to Inventory waste.  Understand your suppliers’ lead timescales so that you are not waiting for inventory to complete sales (a sure way to get bad feedback – and bad feedback kills on eBay).

O is for Over Production.

There is an option when using Paypal to create postage labels to print 2 sheets (the label and certificate) or just the label.  Unless you need a certificate of posting don’t bother.  Do not add anything to your product that does not add value, in the eyes of the customer.  You may like the special packaging, but does it add anything for the customer?

O is also for Over Processing.

What records do you need?  I rely on PayPal and eBay records for order details.  I do not need another ledger full of old orders.  I do need a stock list that is updated asI make sales.  That is because I need an easy way of seeing what my stock levels are, and when I have to reorder stock.

D is for Defects.

Obvious but bears saying again.  Defects are deadly, especially if you offer free replacements as I do (and I would recommend you to).  The offer of a free replacement should a product be faulty is good for business, unless you do not keep an eye on the quality of your stock.

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Put Some Reality Back Into Your Offers, Please.

I just received an email from a well respected internet marketer.  There was the inevitable affiliate link to the next ‘best thing since sliced bread’ offer.  Now, I have  no doubt that my life would be revolutionised and improved beyond recognition by this product.  (Actually, I do but let that pass).  However, the true value of this offer was discounted by 90% to – wait, you guessed it $97!

Why is everything $97, or $27, or $47?  I do not know about you but these psychological selling points do not work on me, they just annoy me.  All I want is a product that works and that is cost effective.  Which is why I only recommend things that I have bought and use or if I have not used them I tell you up front.

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Somedays are better than others (2)

Today I opened up my email to find a string of “Sold Now Despatch” emails from Amazon.  Very nice.  Checking eBay and the same thing!

I have to say that over the last few weeks I have found that going to car boot sales at 7a.m. on freezing Sunday mornings a bit dour.  Sometimes turning over and going to sleep again was very tempting.

Selling successfully online is not easy.  Anyone who says that it is probably does not do it.  Online selling is great, as we all know, but demands that we keep a focus on what we are doing and why.

There are 4 things that we need when we embark on a successful selling career online.

1.                  Honesty, only if we are honest, to ourselves and our customers, will we succeed.

2.                  Good products.  Sell tat and you will fail.  Always strive to sell better and better goods.  Not necessarily more expensive goods but better quality.

3.                  Tenacity.  Turn over on Sunday mornings and you can kiss your successful online business goodbye.

And, last but by no means least;

4.                  Vision.  More specifically, a vision of why you are selling online.  What do you want and why?  Take time to write down why you are selling online.  Be as specific as you can be.  Do you want to quit the day job?  Do you want to make £1,000 in 10 days?  Do you want an extra £500 a month?  All are possible but you need to know, understand and believe your real motivation.  If you do not know why you are doing something you will stop at the first obstacle.  If you do not have a target how do you know if you are getting there?

What the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.

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Amazon Vs eBay (5) – Buyers

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This is a short series of posts comparing selling successfully on eBay and on Amazon from the seller’s perspective. This time I am looking at buyers and their expectations.

The buyers on Amazon and eBay are different.  Amazon buyers are loyal to Amazon many would not dream of buying on eBay.  eBay buyers often feel that Amazon sellers charge too much.  On eBay they expect less, post an item within a week and the buyer is happy.  Post an item sold on Amazon more than 2 days after the sale and the buyer will complain.  Amazon buyers are more expectant and demanding.  Depending on your point of view, this is either a good or a bad thing.

Personally, I think that customers with high expectations are a good thing.  It drives bad sellers out of the market.  Conversely it can make them a pain to deal with.  They do not expect to have to email to ask if their purchase has been posted, and neither should they.  It is just that they will do it after 24 hours, eBay buyers will do it after 96.

I enjoy working with eBay buyers there is more interaction than with Amazon buyers.  Consequently, the average time spent on eBay sales is less than on Amazon sales,  From the point of view of your business the advantage has to go to Amazon.

Result; Amazon wins.

Score

Amazon            4

eBay                 0

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Grading System, What Grading System?

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

In a previous life, about 15 years ago, I bought and sold vinyl records through the post.  I advertised in Record Collector Magazine.  I had a list of about 250 collectors who would buy from me every couple of months.  All in all I was selling successfully, and happy with my customer base and their response.  I put that down to selling good items and describing them honestly.

When I moved house that enterprise (more of a hobby really) was put on hold and I never got round to starting up again.  I still buy RC and take a bit of interest in the vinyl listings on eBay.

I have one gripe about some of those eBay listings.  Just because record (or anything else) is old does not mean it is valuable.  What really counts is the condition.

There is a recognised grading systemfor vinyl (and books, stamps etc.) but some sellers either do not know that or ignore the system.  To be successful on eBay you must know what you are selling, and the relevant grading system.  How else can customers really know what they are buying if they do not understand your personal definition of ‘very good’ or ‘mint’?   If someone says that their album is mint then I expect it to be just that, mint.  I do not expect the cover to be creased but otherwise mint.

Like most buyers I will buy from someone once but if I am not happy about the description I will not buy from them again.

Always be honest in your descriptions and use any grading system.  In fact, make a point of saying that you are using this or that grading system and explain how it works.  It will make you appear to be honest (which you must be), competent (which you should be), and an expert (which you might be).  It builds confidence.  It enhances your reputation and will help build your business.

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Free Replacements, I Still Think That They Are A Good Idea!

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

I have recently been writing on various blogs about giving free replacements when buyers say that the item has not been received.  Many people disagree and say that I am being taken for a fool.  A sort of buy one get one free scam by some buyers.

They may be right in some cases but I stand by my idea that the vast majority of people are honest.  A little story to illustrate that. it is slightly different from a straight replacement but I think it is a story worth telling.

I sold a CD on Amazon the other week and the buyer emailed me to say that it was not the CD he thought it was, it had a different track listing.  My first thought was that he should have read the listing properly, or that he had burned the CD but did not want to pay £9 for the CD.  However, I emailed back saying return it and I will refund, minus the postage cost.  I knew that the CD would sell again.

The CD came back, I refunded and listed it again.  two days later John ordered another CD.  He emailed me to say that this was not a scam so I sent the CD.  No problem with the sale.  He then bought another.  I like to think that the later sales were made possible by my attitude to the first.

By the way.  There was an unexpected bonus.  The first time I listed the CD (which I had bought for 50p) there were 2 others listed at £9.  When I re listed the lowest price was £19.99, the other 2 had sold.  I re listed it at £19.99 and it sold yesterday!

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