Before I launch into my mini-rant about eBay seller ratings, I want to remind you about my new You Tube channel titled eTail Hub and to let you know I have uploaded a brand new video this week which details a fantastic strategy in getting your ebay listing up the page rankings to page one.

You can view the video here

Don’t forget if there is any particular eTailing topic you would like me to create a video about for future uploads then please do let me know!

Now on to this latest post…

Why ‘no response’ can damage your eBay seller ratings more than you realise

Historically, I have always booked my family’s summer holiday in September. The reason being that by booking a good 10 months in advance I get the pick of the best villas, and flights are somewhat cheaper – so of course it makes sense to plan ahead.

Last September though, for one reason or another, this didn’t happen. It was on my list of things to do, but other things kept getting in the way and I didn’t manage to put aside the time to do it. Generally, this task requires at least a whole morning by the time I’ve looked at accommodation, emailed for quotes, juggled flights, researched car hire and checked availability at the kennels for my two dogs!

So, when I finally found a gap in my schedule to sort it all out, it was already January – a good four months later than I would usually be booking. But, not to worry I thought, I’ll still be booking six months in advance, there should be plenty of choice left.

How wrong was I?

Very! What should have taken me just a morning to sort out in fact took many days of to-ing and fro-ing and was extremely frustrating. All the best accommodation was booked for the dates I wanted, flights were coming up at least £500 more expensive than if I’d booked earlier (and in one case almost £800 more expensive), the difference in car hire price was over £150 more and I hadn’t even telephoned the kennels yet!

Oh, ‘first world problems’ you might be thinking as you roll your eyes. Well, yes you’re probably right, but actually, the point of this story isn’t about the fact that accommodation was scarce and my holiday was going to cost me more than I had anticipated, because ultimately that was my fault for being disorganised. My point for today is actually to do with customer service and this is directly relevant to all of us. Get this wrong and I promise you your eBay seller ratings will suffer as a result.

The ‘courtesy’ I experienced was quite shocking

Let me explain. Rather than book a traditional ‘package holiday’ I always research all the individual components myself and then put them together. So for example I’ll book a villa directly from the owner using a site such as Owners Direct, then I’ll book my flights directly with the airline and so on. It usually works out much more cost effective this way. So, the first stage is to choose the accommodation and then contact the owner for a quote and to confirm availability.

Initially I found two properties of interest and I emailed the owners through the contact form on the site. It took 48 hours for the first owner to respond which according to the site is an acceptable length of time. Not a problem – but the response was far from what I expected. It was a very short, very curt email that read:

‘My property is not available for those dates. Cheers.’

That was it. No, ‘thank you for your enquiry’. No, ‘we have other dates available if you are interested’. No, ‘sorry we could not accommodate you on this occasion but do please contact us again in the future’. And the sign off was ‘cheers’. Seriously?

The result. Struck off my list for this year (for obvious reasons) but I wouldn’t contact them again in the future either, on principle. Politeness costs nothing. The owner of the second property hadn’t bothered to respond three days later which further wound me up.

Now, if I was the owner of a property abroad which was advertised on several well known holiday lettings sites and showing initial availability on their calendar for this summer, I would open my emails regularly to check for enquiries and to make sure I wasn’t missing out on a potential booking. It appears though that if I did this I would be completely abnormal!

So, I sent a polite second email, again through the site, asking if my enquiry had been received. 24 hours later – so a full 6 days after my first message was sent – I finally received a reply:

‘Thank you for your enquiry. I would love to take your booking but my property is currently for sale and I can’t take bookings that far ahead in case I sell it. I can book you in for February instead?’

Errr…no! February! I wanted July/August – there’s quite a difference there. But at least the owner thanked me. But why advertise something that isn’t actually available?

And why wouldn’t these owners be checking their emails regularly for enquiries? Surely it’s basic common sense to check your inbox a minimum of once per day if you are offering something to the public.

This reminded me of an online article I read a while back that talked about communication and how we have all become so busy that often we simply ignore emails.

Are you really too busy to look after potential customers?

If you are then your eBay seller ratings and your business will suffer.

At the time the article was written, I agreed totally with the author who, like me, questioned that it seems beyond sense that in this day and age with our huge array of technical gadgets to make communicating quicker and easier – mobile phones, smart phones, iPads, Netbooks – that the ‘I’ll just ignore that’ phenomenon is worse than ever.

Those who know me well, will know that without fail, I always promptly answer every email that lands in my inbox. If it doesn’t get replied to it’s only because it’s lost it’s way and is flapping around in that big black hole that is cyberspace somewhere.

Frustratingly (for me) I am one of those people who simply cannot ignore communication – whoever it may be from and however busy I am – which can be a good thing but also a bad thing.

I’m that person who receives a ‘thank you’ letter then feels that I should thank the person who thanked me! I’m the one who isn’t sure when a text conversation should officially come to an end – can you just abruptly leave a text conversation hanging? I don’t like that – it’s not finished – it hasn’t reached its natural conclusion.

So, right now this is probably coming across as a little bit OCD. I prefer to think of it as OCC though – Obsessive Compulsive Courtesy. Courtesy costs nothing and it doesn’t take long to acknowledge an email. I appreciate that you are busy – we all are – but most of us aren’t receiving so many thousands of emails in a day that we can’t respond within even a couple of days surely.

I’m not saying you should respond the minute an email lands in your inbox – this can cause problems in itself because the sender assumes that you are always at your desk just waiting for emails, and I know that sometimes it is really, really tempting to hit the delete button, that email could be gone forever just with one click…. Yes, it’s tempting. But you shouldn’t do it.

It’s all about striking a balance. It’s about managing expectations too. And this applies to your online business and your eBay seller ratings. Good communication means good eBay seller ratings – see I told you my ramblings would be beneficial to you in the end!

Prompt customer service can start a chain reaction

Ultimately you want to achieve excellent eBay seller ratings, satisfied customers, good positive feedback comments, testimonials, recommendations and repeat custom for your business.

You can achieve this just by making sure your customer service is up to scratch. With a little bit of time management, you can ensure you have time each day to answer your emails, respond to any questions and so on so that no-one is disappointed or left waiting.

And higher eBay seller ratings can very easily lead to more sales – if you promptly answer that eBay message that’s waiting, that potential buyer is more likely to become a definite buyer because you’ve shown good service by being prompt and you have (hopefully) given a helpful answer so that they go on to buy your product. Following that they will leave good positive feedback and they may even tell all their friends how great you are.

It’s a chain reaction that starts from one simple action – answering an email. That’s all it takes.