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Three Best Practices to Improve Your Customer Service

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Verified Blogger
Last Edited 03:21:53 PM

Great customer service is the backbone of a healthy business. Sure, offering shoppers the products they want is an important part of making your sale. But without a solid customer service plan in place for before, after, and during the transaction, it’s less easy to become a Top Rated Seller, acquire repeat buyers, and enhance the staying power of your business.

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Take it from eBay seller and 2017 SHINE Award winner Ciara Brown. When asked to share her top tip for success, she didn’t hesitate.

 

“Customer service is absolutely number one,” Ciara said. “Always do right by the customer. Even if it means you have to take a loss. Long term, it pays off.”

 

She reveals one of the most important parts of developing your customer service plan: taking the long view. Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you, “Think in decades, not days.” If you’re mindful of the customer experience now, your efforts can lead to referrals, and a strong reputation that helps you stand out among the ever-increasing competition.

 

Let’s take a look at three best practices that help you have a better customer service plan, and ultimately, lead to a greater payoff from selling.

 

  1. Always acknowledge your customer.

That means starting your sale off strong. Or, when a customer needs you, being there to let them know, ‘I hear you, and I want to help you find a solution.’

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  • Answer your buyers in a timely manner. When a buyer has a question, the best way to help them stay happy is with a prompt reply. Knowing they can reach you when they need to is key to building loyalty, and having that immediate line to communication is a huge part of it. Buyers can reach out to you through two ways on eBay: direct message before and after the sale, and by phone after the sale. Head to Manage your Q&A for buyers to enable both. 
  • Note that you’ll need to keep all pre-sale communication on eBay. One of the many benefits to selling on eBay means sellers are covered by protections. To stay within policy and ensure you are protected, buyers and sellers cannot use eBay to communicate with the intention of completing a sale off eBay. As noted, sellers can include a customer service phone number for post-transaction support, but no other off-eBay contact information is permitted.
  • Ship your items quickly. Acknowledging your buyers doesn’t just mean responding to pre-sale questions. It means anticipating their happiness by starting your relationship off on the right foot. Prioritize their sale. Ship their item in a timely manner. Put some extra security on their shipment with services like eBay Guaranteed Delivery. Getting their purchase to them on-time, or even ahead of schedule, is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression and tell them, ‘I’m reliable. You can count on me to get you what you need.’
  1. Put yourself in their shoes.

A great rule of thumb that can help you eliminate potential pain points is to anticipate buyer concerns and consider, what would I want to know? How would I feel if I saw my listing? Is there anything I can do to make it tidier, clearer, or more appealing?

 

  • Mind your listing accuracy. Be sure your item description is complete and clear. Include structured data to address potential buyer questions. Take advantage of the 12 free photos you can add to your listing—it’s easy to snap a few on your smartphone. Showing buyers exactly what they’re going to receive can level-set what they’re waiting for. Is it in perfect working order, but has a minor scratch? Let them know. Is it rare, or was only offered for a limited time? Details matter. Learn more listing tips here.
  • Package with care. Be diligent about how your items are packaged and shipped. For instance, if it is a fragile item, use a box with protective wrapping instead of a mailer bag. Your buyer is looking forward to the moment they unwrap their purchase, so be sure the item is packaged suitably for shipping. eBay shipping supplies are an easy way to make your package secure and give it a professional look. And if you can, add a handwritten note, or another personal touch. Remember: extra effort makes you the one they remember.

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  1. Offer solutions fast.  

If ecommerce were a perfect, well-oiled machine, we wouldn’t have public checkpoints like ratings and reviews. Problems naturally happen. The good news is, you can significantly improve your relationship with a buyer, and your reputation, but resolving any issues that come to your attention quickly and with the right outlook.

 

  • Prioritize buyer concerns. It’s easy to see a message detailing an issue and avoid it for a while. Let’s be honest—problems aren’t always the most fun to tackle. If you find yourself hesitating to seek a resolution, use that as a cue to put your customer service hat on and flip your perspective. Take emotions out of it if you can, and make it your mission to ensure your buyer is satisfied as soon as possible. Think about how they are feeling in the moment, what they were expecting, and try to consider why their expectations were not met. It might be best to issue an apology. Try to look at every buyer as the first buyer, or the only buyer: their happiness is key to your collective shoppers’ happiness.
  • Politeness goes a long way. If you’ve ever smiled at someone, you might have experienced someone smiling back at you. People are more likely to mirror behaviors they receive. That’s why, even if a buyer is heated or you’re unclear if they’re honest, a simple “thank you” or courteous language can help bring the conversation to a better place. The saying goes, “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” Adopt that mantra, and the rewards can be plenty.

Once you’ve started implementing these customer service best practices, you’ll be on your way to taking your business to the next level and building the foundation that leads to business longevity.  

8 Comments
by vpaul-1 · Adventurer
vpaul-1
Adventurer

"sellers can include a customer service phone number for post-transaction support, but no other off-eBay contact information is permitted." Is not a very friendly way to conduct business.  I used to have MANY Buyers purchase from me because they couls phone me and get a real person on the phone. They told me that this is the reason they decided to purchase.

by vintagecraze50 · Guide

Have to say that the "politeness, and concern for the buyer" is the key to resolving any after sale issues, and pre sale issues. People do appreciate a very quick reply when asking questions about an item and connecting to that buyer in a swift manner can  make a sale. We include customer appreciation gifts in our packages and these little things can really help with repeat business. Priority Mail has helped us a lot too with our items arriving in 3-4 days--CUSTOMERS LOVE THIS PEOPLE.  A picture is worth a million words and attracts the buyer from the get go when they see your listing. Take time and care in photographing your items. Sometimes it takes us and hour to get our photos in the best possible light. It makes a big difference when customers are comparing items.  Best to all you great sellers and wish you all a profitable holiday here.

victorjunkman55
Rockstar

eBay don't know Jack about customer service, and when they learn, then they can tell me. As a member who has never had bad feedback in the 6 years I've been here, I know how to please my customers, can eBay say the same? Good Luck to you on that.

by menscave7 · Adventurer
menscave7
Adventurer

Most of my customers are wonderful.  Every blue moon you get a tough one and its best to always be polite and kind even when they are rude and mean.  I call customer service and ask their advise when I run into a tough customer, they are permitted to read our emails.  You can always block a buyer you no longer want to deal with.  That way they will no longer be able to see your listings.  

Yes I sometimes even take a loss to please a super difficult customer and bend over backwards.  Then I block them.  Its not worth gettting a negative rating.  

I always answer questions in a timely manor. 

Good luck and happy selling. 

eaux-de-vie
Thrill-Seeker

"Put some extra security on their shipment with services like eBay Guaranteed Delivery. Getting their purchase to them on-time, or even ahead of schedule, is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression and tell them, ‘I’m reliable. You can count on me to get you what you need.’"

 

Gee, once again, push something the USPS will not  guarantee unless they use Express and then you get dinged for the insane high price. I just had a ding for a first class package that took 8 days to get to the customer. I shipped the SAME day they paid, way less than 24 hours so once again, graded for stuff beyond our control (and NOT dinged byt the Customer, but by EBAY! And I am NOT on the guaranteed delivery nor will I ever be just for that reason! Luckily a call to a customer service person helped, but why did I have to waste 20 minutes of my time for a long postal delivery that nobody complained about?) Isn't shipping within your posted time (and followed by that first scan, hopefully the USPS will do that job right) enough? I am a glorified garage sale, not an Amazon warehouse!!! 

 

 

by sucille · Adventurer
sucille
Adventurer

It is also so frustrating that even when you reply the questions promptly, 90% of interested buyers never reply back or simply give negative answers and don't buy after gathering some informations. So it is very unpredictable business. Sometime people buys as soon as you list the item and some don't  even if you have 300 views plus 10 watchers and then the item has to be relisted. All you need is lots of pateince.

by tomdimi · Adventurer
tomdimi
Adventurer

Great article @audrey_gertz  Thank you!

tamlou721-6
Adventurer

Customer Service is always #1  for sales, I do agree that eBay makes it more challenging, but as I've been growing my sales(slowly...lol) I see the reasoning behind their guidelines and rules. It also has saved me a time or two from expressing ..ahem..emotions scream to customers that push and pull..it gave me avenues to steer them AWAY from me and away from negative feedback. Heck, I've gotten a couple repeat customers that way! My perspective has changed a lot from when i first became a seller.