The Amazon mantra: Customer service.
Amazon sellers with years of success know that one of the keys–if not the biggest key–is customer service. Amazon prides itself on the buyer experience and ensuring timely, solutions-driven help. It expects the same standards and customer service operations from its sellers.
After all, Jeff Bezos once had this to say:
“The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Amazon’s internal philosophy is to keep its eye on the customer, not the competition, to grow and sustain its business.
What IS good customer service?
Good customer service centers around meticulously listening to and resolving your customers’ needs and desires. If you do not constantly seek opportunities to improve your customer service, your relationships stagnate. For a seller, that relationship really means repeat buyers. To be a successful Amazon seller, the relationship – and the repeat buyers – are paramount. And when polled, buyers cite customer service among the reasons they re-patronize a seller. It’s not all about flashy product photography or prices. In fact, no matter how unique your product is or how talented your team is, customers will remember the direct interaction they have with your company. If it’s a bad interaction, they’ll tell others and won’t shop with you again.
I frequently have Amazon sellers ask me how they can improve their customer service. The answer to this question varies, but here are a few universal truths that help sellers set themselves apart from the competition.
- Are you efficient? Efficiency doesn’t just mean getting a task done as fast as possible; it means answering customer service inquiries in a timely, organized fashion. This lets you address truly complex buyer concerns with more time on your side. If you’re buried under customer queries and questions, and have no time, personnel or process to quickly respond, you’re in trouble. Creating templates for common questions, generating autoresponders for quick responses, and using other time-saving tools will alleviate the burdens and backflows of customer interaction, and prevent customers from being disappointed—and disappearing.
- Is your tone appropriate? Responding to buyers with empathy, patience, and consistency defuses tension before it can build. Most buyers want their concerns to be seen and acknowledged. As difficult as it is, kind words bring rewards.
- Are you being clear? We all think we’re superb communicators. Most of us are not. Review your communications. Are you being clear, concise and accurate? How’s your tone? Do you appear courteous or curt? Some customers will be angry, and others, full of questions. And some will be chatty. The trick is knowing how to handle all these customers and provide the same service every time. But above all, write with clarity and solution-finding in mind. Avoid hostility, sarcasm and criticism. Check to make sure you are not unclear or ambiguous. Don’t kill the chance of repeat sales for a quick stab at the customer.
- Create solutions, not barriers. When you’re a buyer, you want the retailer or department store to solve your problem, be it a refund, exchange or just empathizing with your experience. Amazon buyers want the same thing. Be sure to have clear, concise policies about returns. Be mindful that you might need to bend occasionally to satisfy a buyer.
Poor customer service can leave a lasting stain on public perception
Let me also share how dangerous it is for a seller to not satisfy the customer, or to become snarky or critical. Social media. In 10 seconds, an angry buyer can make vicious claims against you. One tweet or Facebook post can wipe out a seller in seconds. It’s not worth it.
So what’s next? Be honest with yourself. Look critically at all phases of your customer service operations. If you’re not consistently achieving all four of the above points, go back to the drawing board. Getting this right sooner is always better and will help you scale your business to greater heights.
Also, share with your team that customer service on Amazon is the cornerstone for ultimate success or failure; that each customer interaction will be measured on a scale from terrible to terrific. Shoot for terrific! It encourages repeat business and strengthens customer loyalty.
Which brings us back to the question, “What is good customer service?” It is customer-focused attention with empathy and active listening. Bring these to your organization and you’ll be successful on Amazon. Long term.