How to Deal With Buyer Complaints

It’s holiday season and everyone’s supposed to be holly jolly, merry and bright… right? The reality is that this time of year is stressful, and a lot of people’s nerves are frayed. You know that keeping your buyers happy is an important part of having a successful ecommerce business, but you also know you’re going to have an occasional unhappy shopper or a buyer with ruffled feathers who just wants to complain. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help alleviate the potential for complaints and un-ruffle some feathers if there is a problem.


It’s important to realize things are going to happen that are beyond your control that unfortunately may make a customer mad. For example, an item may break in transit (even though you double bubble-wrapped and used plenty of packing peanuts) or shipping may be delayed (even though you rushed to get the package to the post office before they closed). There are some things you can control—such as your listings—and if you want to avoid possible complaints and problems it’s a good place to start.


First, read over each listing, including your store policies. Have you provided clear and detailed information about your return policy? Do your item descriptions accurately describe what you are selling, and have you clearly stated information about any flaws or problems with an item? Have you given the buyer several shipping options to choose from? Remember, the more detail you give, the less potential of a disgruntled customer who feels you overcharged them.


If something does happen, keep your cool. If you discover you made a mistake, apologize profusely and ask what you can do to make it right. The sooner you start working toward a solution, the less upset your buyer will be. Stay friendly and be patient even when you want to blow up at something they say or do. Staying calm can help diffuse the situation and keep things from escalating.


Identify what the buyer wants you to do about the situation. Re-state in your communications what you think the buyer wants you to do when you respond to them. In some cases, the buyer may not want to return the item or even expect a refund, they just want to be heard and they want you to know they are unhappy. Once you acknowledge their complaint, the buyer will most likely become less emotional and you can both then look at the problem more rationally.


Acknowledge complaints right away. When you sell online it is easy to stick your head in the sand and ignore a problem, but that will only cause it to escalate. If you are clearly in the right, you may choose to stick to your policy—but keep in mind that an unhappy buyer will tell everyone they know, and in the world of Facebook and Twitter this could literally be hundreds, if not thousands of people. Keep an open mind, and you can more than likely reach a mutual agreement that will make both you and your buyer happy.


This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio and an active Facebook Group ThatKat.

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