Today I’m going to talk about what you should do should things go a little bit pear-shaped and you encounter a problem with your product (which I hope you don’t!).

Tricky, “Item not as described” situations are not always confined to health and beauty products though, so the pointers I’m going to give you in this article are equally applicable when dealing with negative feedback in any category or niche.

Let’s look at the health or beauty theme to start with. You can do everything right. You can have your personal health products properly tested, they can comply with all of the legislation that the European Union insist on for every health or beauty product, you may even have received plenty of positive responses to your first few sales. But despite all this there is no avoiding the fact that many health and beauty products are going to end up with some unjustified negative feedback.

Why? Well, it seems that there are two predominant reasons:

Firstly, when it comes to any product, but particularly health and beauty products, people are going to have wildly differing opinions.

One person might think that the new skin care product that they have just received in the post is the best thing since sliced bread, whereas another might insist that it left their skin blotchy and spotty. What you must remember is that it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time and this can lead to negative feedback for a product that is perfectly good, but just didn’t suit that one person – after all, everyone is different.

I remember a few years back when a teeth whitening product of mine was doing really well and I had thousands of positive feedbacks all stating that the product worked and what a difference it was making. There were, however, still the odd few who claimed that they didn’t see any results whatsoever.

Now, this could have been down to the customer not following the instructions correctly or it could have been due to the fact that the natural colour of their teeth simply could not go any whiter (yes, that can happen!) but there is no way I could have known why these people did not get the results they expected, when thousands of other customers had spectacular results – as I’ve said, everyone is different. Of course this ultimately resulted in a couple of neutral and negative feedbacks through no direct fault of my own. I dealt with the situation at the time and of course carried on and, luckily, my sales weren’t significantly affected. Those red dots soon dropped off the page! Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone no matter how careful you are – it’s the nature of selling on eBay, where feedback is taken very seriously – and its negative effects are not only confined to the health and beauty market, it can happen in any niche.

Browsing eBay recently, I came across a listing for a skirt. There were over 40 sold from the listing and the images within the description included a model wearing the actual skirt. What made me laugh was the note at the bottom of the listing which read:

Note: Due to the difference between different monitors, the picture may not reflect the actual colour of the item. We guarantee the style is the same as shown in the pictures, but cannot guarantee the same performance on different bodies as on the model. Thank you!

What a great disclaimer! But I’m sure it will have stopped any petty complaints from buyers who were larger or smaller than the model in the image and who, when trying on the skirt, found that it did not look quite the same as the photograph!

What this seller had done was to ensure that they made clear the fact that this particular skirt would look different on different people depending on their shape and size. This is a great idea because often instances of negative feedback are related to the product not performing as advertised.

So, if you state that your beauty product is a miracle worker and will get rid of wrinkles in three days then that is exactly what your product should do. If you state that your skirt performs miracles and will actually make you look like the model in your photographs then that is what it must do!

Bold claims about the successful nature of your product might help you to sell that item in huge quantities, but if your claims aren’t justified then the chance of receiving negative feedback is the risk that you take.

If you are an existing eBay seller you will definitely know all about the importance of feedback, and how a negative score can impact on your sales. But please don’t panic! Just because you have a few poor feedback ratings from existing sales of your own products doesn’t mean you should give up!

Likewise, if you’re just starting out, please don’t let the thought of receiving some negative comments keep you from getting what you know to be an excel- lent product out to the people that want it.

You need not be afraid of negative comments! Particularly when you can counter them effectively with my three-step strategy.

Step 1 – Respond to the negative

Not immediately though! If you’re like me you’ll be a bit cross and upset with your negative. So, wait until you are calm before responding – otherwise you won’t be thinking clearly and might say some- thing stupid! It’s really easy in this situation to get depressed and think that it’s your product that is at fault, particularly if the comment was linked specifically to the product in question and not your service.

So, before doing anything else, this is the time to look back at all those lovely positive comments that you have received from the people that genuinely love what you have to offer. It’s the time to remind yourself that you KNOW you have a great product.

Once you have reassured yourself you will be in a much calmer and better position to respond to the little red dot that you have received.

Now, before starting a “battle of the feedback” and leaving an insulting message for all to see, why not send a private message saying something along the lines of:

“Hi, I noticed that you weren’t happy with my widget based on the feedback that you left recently, and I was wondering if there is anything I can do to put this situation right for you? Perhaps you could let me know exactly what the problem was with the widget so that I can make sure you are satisfied and avoid the same situation from arising in the future.”

It’s simple, it’s polite and it lets a buyer know that you really appreciate their custom, are on the ball and are willing to work with them to solve any difficulties. If the buyer doesn’t get back to you then don’t worry, it’s not too great a loss, but at least this allows you to try to remedy the fault and the negative feedback.

You see, let’s say the buyer does respond to your polite message. If you can work together to come up with a solution, you can always ask them if they will consider amending the original feedback that they left for you. This instantly wipes the slate clean, and any prospective buyers that might have been put off by that one negative comment can see that you have been working on the behalf of your buyers to put things right.

Another solution that can really help you to deal with any negative feedback comments is to be excessively generous. Can you afford to offer a money-back guarantee? I do on ALL of my products, although it’s rare that anyone takes up the offer. The fact that it is there is peace of mind enough for most people! If you are happy to refund anyone who isn’t satisfied with your goods for any reason – a “no quibble” guarantee – then you essentially remove the need for anyone to ever leave a poor comment regarding the product itself!

Step 2 – Emphasise the positive

Okay, let’s concentrate on the positive. How many buyers leave comments saying how great your merchandise is? Loads I bet! Perhaps someone left you a particularly great feedback comment on eBay itself, or someone purchased from your website
or from Amazon and left a comment there. These customer endorsements are one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal when it comes to safeguarding against the negative. So, here are just a couple of methods that you can use to make the most of your positive feedback:

Include positive comments within your eBay listing descriptions. Yes, I know potential buyers can click through to look at your profile and see your feedback, but why not make it a whole lot easier for them? Place your great testimonials into your descriptions themselves. Just copy and paste them in, or you can use a great tool called Feedback Analyzer. You don’t need to go overboard here; just 10 or so positive comments will make the world of difference to a person unsure about the merits of what you are offering.

Create your own simple website where all of your positive feedback can take pride of place. If you are manufacturing and distributing your own products then having your own website definitely makes sense anyway. The first thing many potential buyers do if they aren’t sure about a product is to go to Google and search for “Product Review”. What if your website was one of the first results showing all your testimonials and positive comments? And, what if it clearly showed the responses of real people that had benefited from the very real results that your excellent goods can offer? It might be the factor that determines if they buy from you, or from one of your rivals.

Always make sure you include positive testimonials and feedback that comes from real customers who have genuinely used your products. If you need to get the ball rolling why not offer a limited time offer on eBay where you sell your stock for a cheap price, or even provide some friends and family members with free samples on the condition that they write a brief review for you?

Step 3 – Live and breathe customer service

The best possible way for you to counteract any negative feedback that you might receive is simply to offer the best customer service that your buyers have ever experienced! Then they won’t have any cause for complaint, even if it turns out they don’t get on with the product that they’ve actually purchased.

When you are busy with family life in general, potentially working in full-time employment and running an eBay business selling your own brand of products from home, prioritising customer service to your clients might not seem like the most important thing to do, what with everything else going on. But I know from experience that if you take the time to make your buyers feel like the most important people in the world, not only will you reduce the risk of negative feedback, but you will also earn yourself a repeat customer base.

So what can you do to stand out from the crowd? How can your customer service be enough to safe- guard against negative feedback? Try some of these strategies:

» Politely answer any communication within one business day if at all possible. There are two key parts to that sentence: “politely,” and “one business day”! The speed of your response will help a buyer to feel important, and the politeness will ensure that they stay on your side.

» Dispatch your items as quickly as possible. We all love it when we make a purchase and it comes through the door the next day, don’t we! Obviously, this won’t always be possible for you if you are juggling jobs, but assuring your buyer that they will receive what you are offering as quickly as possible will make a big difference.

» Provide as much information as you can in your listing description. Don’t be afraid of using long eBay descriptions; so long as the important information is at the top a visitor doesn’t have to keep reading if they really don’t want to, (ideally you should have your potential buyer hooked within the first paragraph, anyway) but putting plenty of good stuff in there provides the clarification that fussier customers need. By informing your visitors that your products are, for example, fully tested and approved, do what they say they do and look exactly like the images, your buyers will start to realise that you are an expert in your field.

As you can see, a tiny bit of negative feedback won’t stop a good thing. If you truly believe that your product is of a great quality then put these strategies in place and you’ll have no need to worry.