How Customer Feedback Affects Your Online Business
By: Hillary DePiano
Hey fellow eBay-ers, this is Hillary from TheWhineSeller.com and as we go into the holiday season, I think it’s important that we talk about this:
- The word “net” above is supposed to be neg, as in negative. Typos. They’re a fact of life.
- As the typo should indicate, that is a real tweet from a real eBay buyer out in the wild that I saw a few weeks ago.
And before I say another word I know what you’re thinking. As an eBay seller, that tweet kinda ticks you off, doesn’t it? You’re sitting there talking back to this random person saying something like, “Why didn’t you contact the seller before leaving negative feedback? How the heck do you know how much shipping is supposed to cost? The poor seller probably lost money on shipping and buyers like you think they were overcharged because they have no clue what it costs to ship something!”
I know that’s what you’re thinking, because it’s my knee jerk reaction too. While none of us are naïve enough to think that there aren’t sellers overcharging on shipping, we’ve all had enough experiences where buyers have an unrealistic expectation of shipping costs that we’re all too willing to excuse the seller until we have more info. And while I’m all for leaving negative feedback for a bad transaction, nothing burns my biscuits more than a buyer that leaves negative feedback before trying to contact the seller.
But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter if the seller overcharged or if this gentleman contacted the seller before leaving feedback or not. It really doesn’t.
In the world of customer service, what’s the difference between being overcharged and just thinking you were overcharged? From the customer’s perspective, there isn’t one. Either way, the buyer is unsatisfied and that’s bad for you, the seller.
And while that’s the code of etiquette here on eBay, the buyer really doesn’t owe the seller an email before leaving bad feedback. The buyer’s unhappy. He doesn’t want a refund or he would have contacted the seller, he just wants to write a bad review and move on with his life. And if you take off your seller’s hat for a second, you can see where he’s coming from. You don’t drop Michael Bay an email to give him a heads up that you didn’t enjoy the latest Transformers film, you just write your bad review and move on.
Move beyond the shipping cost issue and this tweet brings up another very important thing: The buyer felt that he was overcharged on shipping and when he reacted, the seller behaved in a way that came off as unprofessional and turned the buyer off. Was the seller’s reaction a DSR plea, an explanation of shipping costs or something else completely innocuous that the buyer misinterpreted? Again, it doesn’t matter. If I write a bad review of Transformers, Michael Bay doesn’t show up at my house and yell at me. That’s the retail experience I expect.
This may seem anti-social but to me, the best transactions are the one where everything is so automatic I don’t have to talk to a single human being. I know we’re in the age of social media but sometimes you just want to get in and out of the store with what you came there to buy without having to make small talk. Especially this time of year, everyone is busy and busy means no patience for fuss or drama.
It may make you feel better to whine to a buyer or blast them for leaving bad feedback but think about how that turns a buyer off. Not just your business, but also the platform as a whole. Contacting a buyer after bad feedback to offer a refund or other reparation in a professional manner is one thing, emails written in the heat of the moment are another thing. Buyers that leave negative feedback can sometimes later become your most loyal customers depending on how you handle the situation.
Amazon is never going to argue with, whine to or otherwise interact with a customer in any way that isn’t completely professional and guiding them towards satisfaction. Of course, Amazon is a massive company with billions of dollars and maybe you’re one person in your underwear working out of your garage. (Seriously, put some pants on. No one wants to see that.)
But no matter how small your business is or isn’t, you want to not only grow your list of customers but also keep the ones you already have. At the holidays especially, you want to be a retail destination and a big part of that is giving buyers what they expect. eBay’s bringing buyers your way with their new marketing push and regardless of the obstacles and what your own personal preferences are, you need to give the buyers a comfortable retail experience.
Sometimes you need to take the slap of negative feedback and turn the other cheek by offering a refund anyway. Buyers complain about shipping costs? Offering free or discounted shipping may be a pain but at some point it becomes a necessity and part of the cost of running a business. The better and smoother you make the retail experience for your customers, the more customers you’ll have.
Of course, no one’s saying you can’t print the username and tape it to your dartboard in the privacy in your own home…
About the Author
Hillary DePiano is an eBay Ink Social Media Seller. Joining the eBay community in 1997, Hilary sells vintage toys and collectibles at Priced Nostalgia. You can find her on Twitter at @HillaryDePiano.