The increasingly popular transition from local traditional shopping to online retail created some new ways of interacting with the customers and made this process more competitive. While back in the days the buyer had quite a few choices the local market offered now there’s a much more to look at and, as a result, more options to consider on which retailer to choose for the item desired.
The rating (or the feed-back) system came as a much needed tool to outline good retailers and products by asking buyers to make public their experience with the sellers and products they had purchased online. The sites displaying a certain rating system for products or sellers are the ones usually buyers prefer as they have a more trustworthy look.The feedback of a retailer online is influenced by many factors and the customer service is one of the most important ones. As buyers have multiple choices to spend their money online they become more sensitive to the customer service that is being provided by the sellers. A good practice in this area can resolve many issues and it can bring a lot of customers back for more.
Below I described several good ways to maintain good relations with buyers and generate repeat business.
Respond to e-mails as fast as possible
Buyers will feel more confident if they receive a fast response from you and, if the question was related to a certain product, your quick response may result in an immediate sale. Having a toll free number is a great idea but emails work almost as well and sometimes even better as they are situations when some emotions emerge and emails help maintaining a constructive dialogue. Besides that, if you’re running a small business, email correspondence with your clients may work better from a financial point of view (International buyers-if the case-will prefer contacting you most likely online to avoid phone costs.)
Sellers must remember that without buyers their business would not survive therefore this approach must be done with much diligence. “The buyer is always right” even when he/she is not. There will be situations where the buyer asks (or even complain) about details that the description of the item clearly stated. As a matter of fact, at least on eBay the customers rarely read the entire description of an item and they resume to check the title and the pictures. There are cases when the buyer complains that the item did not arrive even if the tracking # says otherwise. These type of cases need to be handled with care as a bad feed-back will likely impact the vendor’s sales in a negative way in the future at an exponential rate.
Contact buyers immediately if there are any issues with their order
There will be cases when transactions may not be able to be completed by the seller from various reasons. Whether the item is not in stock, it has some type of damage not described initially or a mistake was made in the description the buyer must be contacted and informed about the situation in a timely manner. There are times when, as a seller, you will have to become a bit creative to break the news to an apparent sensitive customer that may not take it very well that you listed an item out of stock. One way or another contacting the buyer fast will give you better chances to resolve this type of situation. A good approach is giving the buyer the option to pick another item from your store (in which way a small discount can be applied) or offer a full refund.
Be responsive to customer requests
As buyers will often ask you to do certain things for them (like send the item in a box rather then an envelope, ask for notifications or ask for a shipping discounts) it’s a good idea to accommodate their needs as long as they reasonable, of course. However, as I mentioned in a previous article be aware that one of the most usual requests –ship the item to another address than the one in PayPal- may be a scam. In my practice I try to do as much as possible it for all US customers as long as the buyer has a good feed-back, I have a tracking # and the item’s value is not very high. Many are just gifts for other people and it is a nice way to help the buyer this way.
Keep buyers updated on their order
This may be an easy task to complete as most websites can set-up automatic emails to be sent to the buyers when they purchase an item or even if they watch an item or they subscribed to a newsletter. If you sell on one of the sites that offer this type of tool all you have to do is make the most of it and customize these emails. However if you do not have such automatic settings then it is very important to do it manually .One way or the other this must be done as the buyer will feel more confident, have a positive attitude when receiving the item which may likely translate in a good feed-back which will help you getting more customers.
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