Home > Sell On Amazon > Customer Satisfaction (Part 1)

Customer Satisfaction (Part 1)

When you start selling it’s natural to treat your customers in a way that would make you happy as a customer, and that’s a good starting point.  What you’ll quickly discover is that some things that are satisfactory to you are unacceptable to others, and to have happy (repeat) customers you need to satisfy all of them.  It’s actually a very high bar, but you’ll adopt practices as you go based on feedback, and the rate of dissatisfied customer feedback will drop off.  Let’s go over a few things that will help you understand customer expectations so you can minimize the learning curve.  I’m going to include some notes specific to Amazon, since I recommend new sellers start out on Amazon.

First is having an accurate description of the product on your product page.  The product you sell needs to be exactly the product that’s described on the product page.  Buyers read the product page very carefully and expect to get exactly that.  Obviously if you create the product page you have control over it, so the only two words of caution here if you create the product page are: 1) Be accurate in your description, and 2) sometimes manufacturers change a product or its packaging without changing the name or UPC, if they do this you need to create a new product page for it.

If you’re selling a product whose product page was created by another retailer your choices are much more limited.  While Amazon allows the retailer that created a product page to continue editing it afterward, other retailers selling the same product cannot edit the product page.  All you can do if you’re selling a product that already has a product page created by another retailer is make a request to Amazon to update the product page, and in order for your change request to be accepted you have to provide a link to the manufacturer’s website showing that the change you are requesting is definitely correct.

Incorrect information on a product page is the second biggest source of negative feedback that I receive.  When you’re selling thousands of different products constantly checking that the latest version of each product matches the description on their product page becomes a logistical nightmare, especially when other retailers can change product pages in an inaccurate way at any time.  Nevertheless you will probably notice if there are significant changes to a product when you re-stock inventory and should take the time to create a new product page that accurately reflects it.  And whenever you receive a complaint about a product not matching its product page description you should spend the effort to verify the complaint is accurate, and try to have the product page description fixed.  This isn’t always possible on Amazon since retailers sometimes include information on a product page that isn’t explicitly mentioned on the manufacturer’s website.

No customer is going to be happy if the item they receive is not the item they bought.  The obvious advice is to make sure the item that’s selected for shipment is correct.  Beyond that, though, you should make sure that the item was labeled correctly by the manufacturer.  I’ve had rare occasions where the manufacturer put on the outside packaging incorrect product information, and there was no way to tell without opening the package that this had in fact happened.  I don’t like to open packaging (that makes the product less than pristine, and also takes a lot of time), but if there is any way to quickly verify that the enclosed item really is what the manufacturer indicates on the packaging it is without disturbing the packaging, I do it and you should as well.  This is better done when the merchandise arrives from the manufacturer, rather than when you’re getting ready to ship it to a customer.

Random Observations

When I started selling online I only offered a few items, and even though I wasn’t efficient yet at running the business my sales volumes were low enough that I had no trouble making customers happy.  As my offerings and sales volumes increased my inefficiencies started to catch up with me, resulting directly in my first negative feedback. 

I remember this first negative feedback quite well because it was such a shock.  When I log onto my seller’s account a summary of customer feedback is on the first page, and I was used to seeing 100% satisfied, in green.  Negative feedback is displayed in red, so it jumped out at me right away that something was wrong.  Since no customers had emailed me about a problem I thought there must surely be some mistake.

Unfortunately there was no mistake.  I was selling products on multiple channels (Amazon, eBay, my own online store), and I had to manually update the number of products I had available on each of these sites every day based on sales I had received on the other sites.  Obviously this leaves open the possibility of selling something that has become out of stock earlier in the day, and whenever this happened I cancelled the order I couldn’t fulfill.

Customers don’t like having their orders cancelled (or delayed by an arbitrary amount of time on back order).  The customer who left me negative feedback was someone whose order I had cancelled.  I was prompt about cancelling the order within a few hours, but it still made the customer unhappy.  In summary, their feedback was that if I didn’t have the product in stock I shouldn’t list it as available and waste their time.

Of course, it was available earlier in the day.  Someone else had just beaten them to it on another site, and I couldn’t manually update the other two sales channels I was using as soon as each order came in.  But that isn’t the customer’s problem, it’s my problem, and they were quite correct that I needed to prevent this from happening.

I received several other negative feedbacks that were substantially similar before I was finally able to put something in place to prevent this from happening.

In hindsight I think the real mistake I made was in selling on too many channels when I was just starting out.  I was completely new to online retail, and I should have just sold through a single channel until I had enough volume that I was able to learn the basics.  Fortunately my early volumes were low enough that I didn’t make a lot of customers unhappy.  I intentionally scaled up a bit slowly at first so I could learn as I went without hurting my business or making it a bad experience for customers.

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