How to lower your eBay defect rate

eTRS-BadgeWithout a doubt the new eBay satisfaction measure, the defect rate, is going to be a pain for sellers in the coming months.

However there’s one simple tip that can without a doubt lower your defect rate and that’s simply to encourage customers to take any problems off eBay and there’s a very simple way to do this – get them to telephone you instead!

I know a lot of eBay sellers hate the telephone and much prefer to deal with emails. There are some who simply hate talking to people and getting a random phone call at different times of the day or night. There are others who are simply too busy and when you’re trying to place an order with a supplier, while packing orders for the courier and a delivery arrives at the same time as your Postie to pick up the Royal Mail shipments the last thing you want is the phone ringing with a customer on the line.

The reality is though, each time a customer rings you that’s one less defect on your eBay blotter. So how do you get them to phone you rather than open an eBay dispute?

The solution is simple, include a business card with your phone number prominently displayed in each and every shipment. If a customer opens an order the chances are that their mobile will be in their pocket or close to hand and it’s a lot easier for them to phone you than it is to email or log on to eBay to lodge a dispute. If they phone, you can resolve any issue, eBay will be none the wiser, your defect rate has a chance to stay intact and you can keep your Top Rated Seller status.

I might add that getting customer to telephone you may also save you some cash on eBay’s mandatory Managed Returns process – you’ll be able to offer a partial refund, return by your choice of carrier or take the decision to ask the buyer to simply bin the item and either replace or refund according to their wishes before they simply return the item and you incur a postage invoice from eBay.

Seven golden ‘Rules of Engagement’

Once you have the customer on the phone, Joanna Swash, Commercial Director of virtual phone system Penelope and its sister company, telephone answering service Moneypenny, has seven golden ‘Rules of Engagement’ to ensure you are always delivering the very best in customer service:

1) Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

This is the basis of every good customer service strategy, enabling you to not only match a customer’s expectations, but exceed them. Online customers don’t want to be treated like a number. Deliver the same levels of high service, care and courtesy as you would selling face to face.

2) Listen, listen, listen – never guess, never assume

So many businesses, online or otherwise base the majority of decisions on assumptions which all too often turn out to be inaccurate. Keep an open dialogue with your customers. Ask them what they think and what works for them – encourage feedback and take heed to make any improvements.

3) Communicate in your customers’ language

Be your own customer and look objectively at how you are presenting your online information. Be sure to give details of your product/service clearly and in a non-ambiguous way for your customers to understand.

4) A happy business makes for happy customers

Give your online business a personality. Create a feel for the way you do business, demonstrating that you are real, happy, helpful people who are good to do business with. Communicate well; rolling out the red carpet to make each and every customer feel like a VIP.

5) The little things are the big things

It’s all about the detail. Think about any small touches you can deliver that will help you stand out from other online sellers? Look at the quality of your imagery, pull out the stops to meet a tight deadline, send a personal message to welcome a new customer. A thank you note or email after a purchase along with any useful information and a means of contacting you should customers have any issue will go a long way, keeping them engaged and loyal.

6) It’s not making the mistake that’s the issue, it’s what you do afterwards

Mistakes and errors with orders are inevitable but more importantly the way you deal with them says a great deal about the way you do business. Always be honest and apologise then be clear about what will happen next as you correct the problem. Show you care and give your customers confidence. Explain your timescales, your refund policy, throw in a freebie if appropriate or a discount on your customer’s next order. Deal with any online feedback about your mistake in the same way, explaining clearly and quickly how sorry you are and what you are doing about it.

7) Evolve and Adapt

What worked a year ago might not now. Complacency just won’t do. Treat every transaction in the same ‘gold service’ way. Constantly innovating, learning and improving. Your reputation is everything so look after it.