33 posts categorized " Buyer Communication "

May 28, 2013

Two "time-saving" mistakes you might not think of as mistakes

In a recent post we mentioned the importance of shipping exactly what a buyer orders. Sometimes the reason this goes wrong is obvious, but other times it's more subtle. For example, a buyer might have ordered an item that differs from how the buyer perceived the item based on the detail page information.

Here are two mistakes you might make in the interest of saving time, but that can contribute to customers not knowing enough about an item to make an informed buying decision:

  1. Not responding promptly to pre-order inquiries about your listings

    Customers (shoppers) won't necessarily become buyers, but answering their questions can help you make sales that stick. When a customer is fully informed about an item before buying, he or she is more likely to keep that item and to praise it (and you) in reviews.

    Sometimes a customer can't quite make out a particular detail from the product image and description. Talking to you can help the customer move forward and buy.

    Or not. And that's Ok too. If the customer ends up not buying after talking with you, that is a better result than the customer becoming a dissatisfied buyer due to lack of pre-order information.

    For more information, search on "messaging service" in seller Help.

  2. Not providing a top-notch image of the exact product you are offering

    The product you ship should not be even slightly different from the product in your detail page image.

    Also, you can be extra helpful to customers who are deciding whether to buy, if in addition to having a perfect main image, you provide more images of the product—different angles, close-ups of key aspects of the product, and so on.

    For more information, search on "image standards" in seller Help.

Though you might save time initially by skipping (or skimping on) these tasks, that time saving can be easily overshadowed by lost sales, too many returned items, unhappy buyer reviews, and dissatisfied customers who don't come back.

August 20, 2012

What is a Concession?

Sellers can always issue partial or full refunds for order costs, but the Amazon system also allows sellers to compensate buyers for order issues as an alternative to or in addition to refunding order amounts. Buyer credits that exceed the order total are called concessions. There are situations where you may want to issue funds to the buyer beyond the cost of the item(s) and shipping amount. For example, if a buyer receives a defective item and you want to compensate them for return shipping along with the order refund, you could issue a concession.

Concessions can be issued as partial refunds, with partial refunds, or along with full refunds. There are limits on the total amount sellers may provide to buyers when they issue order refunds and concessions. An order refund can't exceed the total amount originally paid by the buyer; however, the amount allowed in concessions may exceed the total cost of the order itself. Amazon displays the concession maximum for each item in an order using a formula that calculates the higher of the following two numbers:

Limit 1: 50% of the sum of original buyer-paid shipping plus product price
Limit 2: Twice the original buyer-paid shipping, plus $10 plus $20

To issue a concession:

  1. Log into your seller account
  2. Go to your orders section and bring up the details of the specific order you want to refund
  3. Click the "Refund order" button on the Order Details page
  4. Choose the tab that fits your refund: Full (which is the default page) or Partial Refund (which is a tab below the order number)
  5. Use the pop-up menu to select the appropriate Reason for Refund
  6. Enter the amount of the return shipping and/or other concession into the Amount to Refund box
    You will receive a pop-up asking you to confirm the concession
  7. Add a memo to the buyer
    This is optional but highly recommended, allowing up to 255 characters
  8. Click the Submit Refund button


Additional facts to note about concessions:

  • It can take 15 minutes for the data to be updated in the order to reflect the refund in your seller account
  • Buyers will see a concession amount as a different entry than a partial or full refund on their payment statement
  • Concessions do not contribute to the refund percentage in your seller performance metrics. If one or more products in an order are fully refunded, then the order is counted as a refunded order and is included in your Refund Rate

If you would like a more in-depth look at concessions, please access the Help section of your seller account and search for concessions.

August 13, 2012

Keeping on top of communication with buyers (and potential buyers)

Like you, I am an Amazon seller. Probably also like you, I frequently talk with customers to keep things running smoothly. It seems like I'm never quite caught up on e-mail for even a day, but that's just the way we live now.

I do find, though, that if I follow Amazon's guidelines for communicating with customers, I don't usually have repeat contacts. The most common exception is a pleasant note of thanks and I always like seeing those!

Whatever a customer asks about—a product, shipping, or something else—I keep three communication guidelines-in-a-nutshell in mind:

  1. Prompt
  2. Accurate
  3. Helpful

They sound simple and obvious, don't they? And really they are, but on rushed days they keep me from cutting the wrong corners.

One last thought. It took a little while to get used to managing my customer communication in the message center in my seller account, but I have appreciated it for a long time now. It simplifies my life.

June 25, 2012

Managing negative feedback from buyers

As a seller, some days it seems like all you get is complaints. People can be quick to gripe and slow to praise. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep calm, but even if the buyer comment is not courteous, replying in a similar manner can backfire and reflect badly on you.

If you receive a negative comment about your service, we encourage you to first contact the buyer. Listen politely to their issue and respond professionally. It may be worthwhile to offer some sort of consolation to resolve the issue, such as a refund of shipping costs if the buyer's feedback is about late delivery of an order.

Once you have contacted the buyer, if you are able to resolve the problem, carefully determine whether it's appropriate to ask them to remove their negative feedback. If they decline your request to remove their feedback, please respect their decision. You may ask a buyer remove feedback. However, you may not offer nor pay any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback. Pressuring a buyer to remove negative feedback is a violation of our policies.

If you work with a buyer to resolve a situation, but the buyer decides not to remove negative feedback, you may choose to post a response on the website. Explain how you worked to correct the problems. Your response won't change your feedback rating, but other customers will be able to read your explanation when they see the buyer's feedback. This reply is seen online, so carefully consider what you want to say before posting your side of the story. A poorly thought-out reply can reflect badly on you.

And finally, take time to learn from the experience. Did you make mistakes? Are there ways you can improve your business processes? In most cases, there's a lesson you can take away from the experience.

May 21, 2012

Avoiding and Diffusing Negative Feedback

Customer feedback is one of the most important measures that buyers use when deciding to purchase from you. Your successful handling of negative feedback takes a combination of best practices and professionalism.

Many negative feedback issues can be avoided by ensuring that your listings are as accurate and complete as possible. A major source of buyer dissatisfaction is not receiving what they thought they ordered. This happens when detail page information is inaccurate or misleading. As a best practice, when you create a listing, take the time to create a complete and accurate record of the item you are selling.

We provide a variety of tools that help you respond to and resolve issues with buyers. These tools call on your professionalism and human-relations skills when you ask about the source of a buyer's unhappiness and devise a resolution. Handled correctly, a negative situation and potential escalation can be happily resolved. In the best case, a buyer might even remove their negative feedback from your record.

May 09, 2012

Dealing with negative feedback

When you sell at Amazon.com, you should work with buyers to resolve any differences. Communication is usually the key--simply explaining a delay or reassuring a buyer puts most issues to rest. But sometimes an order results in the seller receiving negative feedback from the buyer.

If you receive a feedback comment that you are not happy with, we encourage you to contact your buyer, and work with them to resolve any order issues. Your buyer could then remove the feedback if they feel it would be appropriate.

If the buyer has indicated that they're willing to remove the feedback, here are simple instructions to give them. They are also available on our buyer Help page, Leaving Feedback.

  1. Go to http://www.amazon.com/your-account
  2. Under "Personalization," in the "Community" column, click "Seller Feedback Submitted By You."
  3. A list of all of the feedback left by you will display. Click the "Remove" link next to the feedback would like to remove.
  4. (If there is no "Remove" option next to a comment, this means the 60-day removal period has expired.)

Amazon will remove feedback only in the following cases:

  1. The feedback includes obscene language
  2. The feedback includes personally identifiable information
  3. The entire feedback comment is a product review
  4. The entire feedback comment is regarding fulfillment or customer service for an order fulfilled by Amazon

When you receive negative feedback, put it in perspective. A 0-2% negative feedback rate is great! If your negative feedback rate is greater than 5%, you may want to review your business practices. Remember that you can do a lot to avoid receiving negative feedback by providing great customer service!

March 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Orders, Part II

Lackluster customer service can lose a customer forever.

A while back, I ordered "Item Z" and it arrived right away. That part was good.

But then the frustrations began.

The quick delivery was overshadowed by the poor condition of Item Z, which was listed as Refurbished (and was not cheap!), but especially by the lackluster customer service. When I contacted the seller about defective Item Z, he immediately deflected responsibility (and me) to the manufacturer.

Was I disappointed? Aggravated even? To put it politely, yes.

Did I leave negative feedback? Oh yeah.

Why?

Civility and good customer service matter immensely, and the seller failed to provide either:

  • He would not even acknowledge that shipping a product touted as refurbished, but that only worked at 1/3 the promised capacity, was not appropriate.
  • He gave no hint of an apology.
  • He made no offer of any remedy beyond "Contact the manufacturer." He did not offer a replacement or a refund, not even a tiny partial refund to compensate me for my inconvenience.
  • He was done with me in two e-mails. My second e-mail was met with silence—no response at all.

In addition, feedback matters to the overall success of sellers on Amazon:

  • A feedback rating of "1" helps toward lowering a seller's overall feedback rating. The tons of honorable sellers look even better by comparison.
  • A good explanation of the reason for a feedback rating helps potential buyers make good buying decisions. (In case you are wondering, yes, I did read the seller's feedback before buying. However, I clearly did not read back far enough. My failure. I have learned my lesson.)
  • I want sellers as a whole to thrive on Amazon. (I am even a seller myself.) Also, as a buyer, I appreciate good reliable sellers, and one of the best ways to support the amazing seller community on Amazon is to differentiate between the great, the mediocre, and the troublesome.

I am working with the manufacturer. What choice did I have? By the way, the manufacturer's customer service representative questioned me about specific aspects of the "refurbished" Item Z, and said that the seller may not have fulfilled all requirements. I suppose the manufacturer might follow up on that with the seller. . .

I know that mine was not the worst buyer experience ever. I know this seller was not the worst seller ever. I admit to expecting a lot from the businesses I select for my discretionary spending. All that said, I also know that this seller's customer service was disappointing and that I will never buy from him again and risk more aggravation and wasted time.

As noted last month, an order shouldn't go sideways very often, but when one does, customer service makes all the difference.

As a seller, this experience reminds me that forever is a long time when it comes to losing buyers. 

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