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Improving Customer Service (Ep. 040)

September 22, 2017

Good customer service is key to being successful on Amazon. Customer service is one of the biggest things that customers will notice about your brand and it can set you apart from other sellers. Former Amazonian Emily Murray joins us to talk about how you can improve your own customer service.

Emily’s template to respond to negative reviews:

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“Dear Client,

We’re really sorry that you don’t like the {product here}, but we’re here to help you. Here’s my phone number {or} Please contact us through Buyer/Seller Messaging.”

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I recently went out to lunch with an old friend. We went to one of my favorite restaurants, a place my friend had never been to. We both ordered the same thing, a Caprese sandwich. Halfway through my sandwich, I saw something, a dark hair wedged between the basil and spinach. I pulled at it, it was very long and definitely not mine. A waitress spotted what was happening and immediately came over. She was horrified and she instantly began apologizing.

Moments later the owner appeared, apologizing, giving us free dessert and a new sandwich for me to take home. I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t interested in eating the sandwich, even now, I’m not sure I would order it again. However, my friend and I left, talking about going back again, simply because the customer service we received.

This easily could’ve turned into a one-star review situation, but the restaurant’s swift actions prevented it.

That same kind of care and action with customer service needs to happen with your Amazon business. Customer service is easily overlooked in the E-Commerce world and this week we’re going to be talking about why it shouldn’t be and how you can improve your own customer service plans.

“You should treat people the way that you would expect to be treated,” says former Amazonian Emily Murray.

Emily used to work at Amazon. Actually, she worked there twice. First, in the late Nineties in customer service. Then again in 2011 for a couple years doing product safety. Now Emily works with Cascadia. She writes content for client's listing pages and helps them create good customer service strategies.

The biggest mistake sellers make when it comes to customer service, is by not providing it at all.

“Customer service is very very important do not overlook it,” Emily says. 

There are three reasons why you shouldn’t ignore customer service.


First: Good customer service sets you apart.

“People don’t tend to think that there’s anyone listening at the other end during online transactions so it;s so easy and so important to set yourself apart from other sellers by being the one that answers and by being the one that listens,” Emily says.

 

Second: Customer service is the part of your brand that customers see the most.

“It’s extremely important because people need to be heard and if you are not hearing people they will vote with their feet and walk away so it’s extremely important because it is your business,” Emily says.

“Customer service is very very important do not overlook it,” Emily says.

 

Third: Bad customer service puts you on Amazon’s bad side.

They do rank you on how you handle customer issues. Remember Amazon is giving you access to Amazon’s customers, they’re not just your customers.

“They want their customers to be super happy with you, if their customers aren’t happy with you, that’s going to affect things for sure,” says Emily, “That’s also going to affect that customer’s view of Amazon.”

 

The number one way to provide great customer service on Amazon is by being accessible. 

Amazon requires you respond to any messages within 24 hours, strive to make it just a few hours.

“If you don’t answer emails that becomes your reputation and that becomes your brand and I don’t think a lot of people think of it that way,” says Emily, “You do get a reputation for not answering things or you do get a reputation for being curt or rude or whatever it is unique to you.”

Now, if customer service isn’t your thing, you either feel like you don’t have time for it or you don’t like doing it, you can hire a company for you.

But if you’re doing it yourself, there’s something you can do that will set you apart from most sellers: give customers your phone number

“I’m really surprised at how many sellers don’t have a direct phone number that customers can phone,” Emily says.

I know. You’re probably thinking, “No. No. No way am I giving customers my phone number,”

But there are several reasons why you should consider giving them a way to call you. First, just because you sell online, doesn’t mean all communication has to be over email.

“So even though we’re talking about an online transaction everything can certainly be done over email,” says Emily, “A lot of people like to pick up the phone and talk to someone.”

The second reason you should consider giving customers a phone number is it makes you more accessible. You’re more available to customers who may have questions on how to use a product or have a complaint. You can quickly resolve complaints in a phone call that could take several back-and-forth messages over Buyer-Seller Messaging. In the end, it takes less of your time and your customer’s time.

Now one of the things Emily has her client do is respond to bad reviews by leaving their phone number on the response.

Here’s an example of what it would sound like on a bad review for an apple slicer:

I’ve prepared this little blurb for my customer, my client to just paste right in as a response to that. ‘Dear client, we’re really sorry that you don’t like the Apple Slicer, but we’re here to help you. Here’s my phone number,” Emily says.

If you don’t have a phone number, still respond to negative reviews, but you’ll direct customers to contact you through Buyer/Seller Messaging. It’s not a bad way to reach you, but a phone number is more personal and makes you more accessible.

“When you respond to particularly the bad reviews, you’re letting people know that there is someone manning the store,” Emily says.

Now, there’s a third reason why you should consider leaving a phone number, Amazon can’t track your phone conversations.

If customers complain through Buyer/Seller Messaging, Amazon can track it and there is a customer service metric that Amazon measures you on. If you have a lot of complaints or take too long to get back to people, your account is in jeopardy.

If your customers have an option to call you to complain, it takes the complaint off of Amazon, away from their customer service metrics.

“If I’m an unhappy customer, I might send you an email through the Buyer/Seller Messaging System which can be totally monitored by Amazon or if you’ve made your phone number available for me to find easily I might just pick up the phone and yell at you in person and then none of that is in Amazon’s systems anywhere,” Emily says.

It doesn’t have to be your own personal cell phone number or personal landline instead consider setting up a Google Voice number.  Yes, you should answer the calls but any calls you miss will be transcribed for you and you can respond from there. Just make sure you’re responding quickly. If you’ve given customers access to a phone number but then ignore any complaints called in, you risk making a bad situation even worse. But, if done the right way, you can completely resolve issues in one conversation and keep it out of Amazon’s sights.

If you respond to one-star reviews leaving a phone number, that’s not only going to improve the outlook of the person who left the bad review but it also improves your image for future customers too.

“It’s very, very simple things like that that I think a lot of sellers are just now waking up to,” Emily says, “It seems so simple that you might overlook it but a phone number in the great land of ECommerce where no one has a phone number it’s so easy to set yourself apart.”

In some cases, Emily has seen customers go back and completely delete the bad review. But, even if the review is still there, your response will be there too, and future shoppers will be able to see it and see how you responded.

“It takes all of the venom out of it. It stops almost being a one-star review because you’ve taken care of it,” says Emily, “It looks really good to you as a seller.”

In case you’re wondering, leaving a phone number in response to a bad review or simply just making a phone number available for customers to call is allowed by Amazon’s Terms of Service. You cannot give them an email address that directs them off Amazon, but a phone number, totally allowed.

Good customer service should be one of the most important things when it comes to your Amazon business. You need to be accessible for your customers and quick to respond to any issues. Starting in the fourth quarter, the customer service side of your business will get a lot busier.

Sales during the holidays will likely see an increase that means a higher chance people will be messaging you. You need to make sure you stay on top of your responses and get back to people quickly.

Now depending on the products you sell, you may want to change some of your automated Buyer/Seller Messaging. If you sell anything holiday related, change your “Thank You for Your Purchase” to something more jolly and fitting with the holiday season. Stuff like that can go a long way.  Another example, if you sell something that can be used for cooking or baking, include a favorite recipe where that item is used.

“I love doing that kind of thing, because it’s been close to a year now since Amazon changed the rules where review solicitation is concerned and a lot of the follow-up messages that we used to use to send had a lot to do with ‘Hey, Thanks for buying our Apple Slicer and we really love positive feedback so would you go and leave us a five-star review on our product and here’s the link,’” Emily says.

Changing your “Thank You” template response to give customers more value or insight into their recent purchase is a way you can build a relationship with a customer. Fostering a good relationship with customers will lead to positive feedback, just make sure not to ask for it.

“You’re still creating conversation and creating rapport with this customer it’s just not such a hard sell on the ‘Give me a positive review 5 stars’ only thing that we used to do,” Emily says.

Remember, people are much more likely to leave negative reviews.

“Happy customers don’t leave reviews, mad customers leave reviews,” Emily says.

If you have a good response to a bad review and share how they can contact you either by Buyer/Seller Messaging or a phone number, it should help even the upset customers have a better outlook on your company.

Good customer service is crucial. Make sure that your customer service plans are in place now before the holidays start. When you have a good plan, you’re more accessible for customers and they have a higher opinion of your brand making them more likely to leave good feedback and shop with you again. Good customer service also keeps you on Amazon’s good side, which is where we all want to be.

Huge thanks to Emily Murray for giving us her customer service wisdom this week. If you’re interested in her help improving your listing pages and for customer service advice you can find her at www.thinkcascadia.com.

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