I sell books on Amazon. Not that I am promoting my bookstore here, but I want to share my experience to point out three important things about customer service which are useful for any business including my tiling business.
1) Having a fanatical commitment to customer service,
2) Maintaining remarkable customer feedback scores
3) Getting Geeked about "Attaboy's"
A little background
I got into selling books on Amazon while in grad school. The professors provided a continuous flow of high value text books for free - as they are targeted by publishers to pimp their books - they have no choice but to discard the promos or risk losing their office to books.
I saw an opportunity. I learned the ropes of Amazon reselling and I cleared nearly as much as my stipend.
Today, I source books from all sorts of venues, and I am always on the lookout for more. Gone are the days of high value freebies, but now I move volume, and I've invested in the technology to support it. I like it. It's my own little Pawnstars. And, Its not too taxing to my main line of business. Furthermore, I use book selling as an object lesson for my kids.
I'm teaching them how to run a business. They too are book sellers on Amazon under my guidance. Now they consider the choice of saving toward the next book acquisition or spending on consumption.
How this Relates to You
So, anyone who has ever bought something online through Amazon, Ebay, or any other ecommerce site, undoubtedly made a faith based commitment with a third party seller. That the seller on the other end of the transaction would fulfill their commitment to you. And if they failed in doing so, that they would with all grace and poise make good on their duty to you. Immediately!
A big factor in contributing to your faith based decision is seller feedback. Seller feedback, of course, comprises the aggregate experiences from previous purchasers. Feedback is the lifeblood of C2C commerce online. Before making the purchase, you undoubtedly consider the seller's feedback rating, because their previous performance informs your expectation of their performance for you. You would not part with your money otherwise.
Let me guess. You want to deal with four or five star sellers. You want >90-92% ratings. And among these acceptable sellers, a five star 100% seller is a remarkable seller among the herd of grade-A sellers. You might even be willing to pay a small premium to use the 100% seller instead of the grade-A seller just ahead of him. The premium being insurance toward receiving essentially a risk free transaction.
On Fanatical Commitment
When it comes to selling on Amazon, there is only one thing I value more than my feedback rating. And that is my faith in a loving god. Really! Now, I don't want to represent myself as pious and religious, because I am not. But I am spiritual, and I believe in a higher power. It helps me get through. It centers me, and it keeps me on the path towards my best me. Besides, at the end of the day it's all I really have, it's all I really need, and nobody can take it from me save me. I share this with you because I am sure most of you connect on this level. Now, this faith frames my world view and keeps me customer oriented even if when in the short-term what the customer wants conflicts with my own self-interest.
On Maintaining a Remarkable Feedback Score
Did I mention I have a 100% feedback rating on Amazon? Does this mean I am perfect? God-like? No. In fact, I just got through the Christmas rush. Transactions were up four-fold. Very busy. I made some errors. And, my customer's let me know it. Boy Howdy!
On one occasion I misrepresented the condition of the book; End result: Full refund and I bought them the new book including express shipping. This outcome of course followed a brief back and forth of emails with the customer to;
a) accept the blame
b) say sorry
c) commit to getting it right, and
d) propose a solution that was beyond marginally correct.
It was overwhelmingly correct. "Shock and awe".
Here's their comment in my feedback, "Condition of the book was less than described but the seller took care of it right away - going way above and beyond my expectations. I'd order from them again."
Of course this is not the way to run a railroad. But, should a course correction be called for in the future, I will do it again. Because, it is an opportunity to reset the whole relationship, and to take it to a whole other level.
Their feedback is an example of an "Attaboy" (or Attagirl if you prefer). Something I talk about a lot in this blog. Here's what you should know about Attaboys;
1) Attaboy's are at the foundation of my whole approach to business.
2) If you are not getting Attaboy's, you are either not risking enough in your relations with others, or you are not giving enough of yourself to your business.
3) Attaboy's are reassuring. After all who doesn't want to get feedback like the above?
4) Attaboy's are habit forming.
On Getting Geeked about Attaboy's
On another occasion this season, I sold a book that I did not have. It was a title from a 20-book series which I must have miss-listed, because I had another book from the series in my inventory which was not listed at the time of sale. What did I do? Did I pull the plug on the deal? Leave them high and dry? No. I did not fret, I simply bought the book in same or better condition from another seller, and I upgraded the shipping to expedited so they would get the book in the time frame they expected.
How the Attaboy saved Christmas! It cost about 80% over what I received from my buyer, but it was worth it, so long as my customer was being fulfilled. Little did I know the seller I used put a receipt in with the packing slip...so my customer saw what I had paid! He then drew the conclusion that I had overcharged him. I got an email indicating his concern. I explained what happened with all the grace and poise I could muster while setting aside my pride over being discovered for misrepresenting my inventory.
He followed up with this message, "What class! Thank you."
I am so geeked. Are you?
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!