by Steve Weber

#111, 31 December 2007

Grow Your Business
By Keeping Customers Happy

Selling on Amazon

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Taking a long-view outlook for your bookselling business can keep your customers satisfied and make your business more profitable and easier to manage. You will have plenty of repeat customers if you stay committed to customer service. It's no coincidence that the feedback of the most successful sellers are peppered with comments like, "pleased again from buying from this seller." Make a customer happy once, and they will look for a reason to buy from you again.

Meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customers will bring two major benefits:

  1. Protect your business. If you're selling books to earn money, you'll be more competitive if you can display a good feedback record. Most of your sales will come from new customers, and the only way to differentiate yourself from competitors is the feedback record you earn by providing good service to buyer after buyer. It's true that many customers buying cheap books don't look at feedback, but those who buy expensive books do. The customers buying the high-end books - the ones that will be your most profitable - want to deal with a trusted seller. They will pay a premium to buy from a seller who has demonstrated reliability.

  2. Make your business easier to manage. By monitoring your business closely, you can nip potential problems in the bud. Prompt responses to customers' inquiries and complaints can prevent small problems from getting bigger.

It's helpful to occasionally put yourself in the place of a buyer. Make a few purchases from Marketplace vendors yourself, and gauge your own satisfaction. Are you willing to risk your own money on a seller with spotty feedback? How about responsiveness, packing materials, and accuracy of descriptions? Compare the practices of these sellers with your own habits. How can you improve on what your competitors are doing?

The other side of the coin is that good selling practices benefit us all. For every used book buyer that is happy with a purchase, it increases the odds that they'll consider buying again - and recommending it to friends.

So is customer service important to your bookselling business? You bet it is. Many of your customers are buying convenience, just as much as they're buying a book.

Customer Service Rules to Live By

  1. Monitor your e-mail, feedback, and Amazon Payments account at least once daily. E-mail isn't foolproof, so monitor your account for early warning of problems.

  2. Ship orders or issue refunds within 48 hours. The best way to compensate for lackluster service by the Postal Service is to get your packages into the mail system as soon as possible. Likewise, if you need to refund a customer because of a stock-out or some other mistake, a prompt refund helps minimize complaints.

  3. Include a packing slip so customers can contact you via e-mail in case of questions. It's better clear up misunderstandings promptly rather than discover an issue from negative feedback.

  4. Ask customers to leave feedback for you at - if they are satisfied - and to contact you if there was a problem.

Maintaining an Excellent Feedback Score

Whether to ask buyers for feedback is a constant source of debate among sellers. It's been a common practice for years among sellers at eBay and but Amazon buyers seem less responsive.

A typical feedback request from a seller to the buyer reads like this: "I've left you positive feedback, and I hope you will do the same for me if you are happy with your purchase." The implication is, if the buyer is unhappy for any reason, the seller will respond appropriately.


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