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The Importance of Customer Service on Amazon

Selling on Amazon isn’t really an endeavor that you’d associate with “customer service” at first glance. The majority of the customer’s interaction is with Amazon itself, rather than the individual sellers they’re buying from. As such, many buyers think of shopping on Amazon as buying from one monolithic company, rather than, say, Joe’s Tackle and Bait Corporation.

So, it’s true, there’s less room on Amazon to display customer service excellence with all the fanfare it deserves. However, that doesn’t mean you should eschew it completely. There are a lot of benefits that can come from providing good customer service on Amazon — it can certainly be the deciding factor for a customer deciding whether to purchase from you or from your competitors.

Visible vs. Invisible Metrics

Sellers like to focus on the most “visible” metrics when they try to improve their selling strategy. This would include things like conversion rate, ACoS, CTR, sessions, feedback/review rate… It makes sense to focus on these metrics, since they can be easily measured, tracked over time, and adjusted with various changes to your business.

Focusing exclusively on these metrics, though, can sometimes let other valuable sources of revenue or growth, ones that can’t easily be displayed on a graph or in a chart, fall to the wayside. These “invisible” metrics are things like customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

Obviously, it’s easier to work towards increasing traditional metrics because of their measurability. You can track them over time to inform your business decisions and verify whether new strategies are working based on their fluctuations.

On the other hand, it seems a bit contradictory to call things like word-of-mouth “metrics” at all, since they’re difficult, if not impossible, to accurately measure. Nevertheless, they can be just as important as more traditional metrics.

For example, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective forms, because a recommendation from a friend holds much higher sway than any amount of advertising or reviews from strangers. This is why larger corporations and marketing firms try to artificially manufacture word-of-mouth with enormous campaigns.

As Amazon sellers, we don’t have the luxury nor the resources to manually incept word-of-mouth recommendations into our customers. What we can do, however, is provide an excellent standard of customer service that gets us word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat customers organically.

The ultimate, long-term goal, is to build a brand reputation. When people think of your brand, they should think of warm, helpful customer service and total safety in purchasing. That’s not easy to instill in people, but it starts with a commitment to customer service.

Hand turning a service level knob up to the maximum with a dial where it is written the word satisfaction. Concept image for illustration of Key Performance Indicator, KPI or customer loyalty.

What does Good Customer Service Look Like?

There are two keys to customer service on Amazon: generosity and initiative.

Generosity

Generosity means putting the customer’s good experience over the financial burden it might cause you. Their product arrived broken or dysfunctional? Send them a replacement for free. This should almost always be your go-to response, unless you sell an extremely expensive product that would be uneconomical to provide free replacements of.

Why is this so important? I mentioned earlier that you should put the customer’s experience over your financial burden. However, that’s not quite the whole story. The goal is not to hemorrhage cash out of the goodness of your heart — rather, the financial burden is a short-term problem, whereas the benefits of your generosity will last for a long time.

Consider what happens if you don’t replace the product. The customer writes a negative review, but that’s not the end of it. If any of their friends are considering buying your product, they’ll advise them against it: “No, don’t bother with that brand — the piece of crap was broken right out of the box!” Just as word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing, negative word-of-mouth is a surefire way to get everyone around someone to avoid your products like the plague.

Now, consider the alternative, where you do replace the product. The customer will be very impressed by your customer service. If they previously posted a negative review, they might edit it, to now say “it was broken when it first arrived, but the company was extremely generous and sent me a replacement, which has been working great ever since!”

That type of edited review is arguably even more valuable than a generic positive review. Not only do customers know that your product worked, but they also know that they’ll receive great customer service after their purchase, making them feel much more secure in their decision to buy from you.

Plus, the initial customer will be much more likely to buy from you again, and spread the word to their friends and family. So, for the cost of a single replacement, you’ve created a loyal customer, likely gotten a great positive review, and spread word-of-mouth. That pays off big-time over the long run.

Initiative

Taking initiative in customer service means not waiting for the customer to come to you. You should be looking out for customer service issues wherever you can find them and addressing them, sometimes without the customer even having to ask.

The first step is to make it easy for the customer to contact you. This is usually accomplished by including a link to your support email address in your follow-up emails. That way, if they have a negative experience, they can easily reach out to you and get assistance, rather than having to scour your seller page for a support link.

However, there is to a way to be even more proactive with your customer service on Amazon: emailing customers who left negative reviews.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “how do I contact reviewers if Amazon hides their contact information?” Worry not! Thanks to [Efficient Era’s Buyer-Review Matching](https://efficientera.com/pages/feedback/), we can match your Verified Purchase reviews to orders, allowing you to contact the buyers through Buyer-Seller Messaging.

With Buyer-Review Matching under your toolbelt, you can start looking at negative reviews the way they deserve to be treated: as customer service incidents. The vast majority of negative reviews stem from problems that you could easily fix if you just had a way to contact the reviewer. Now that you can, endless possibilities are opened up. If a customer is using a product incorrectly, you can advise them on how best to use it. If their product arrived broken or broke early, you can easily send them a replacement.

For more advice on taking advantage of buyer-review matching, check out our article here: [Buyer-Review Matching: Dos and Don’ts](https://efficientera.com/blog/2017/05/buyer-review-matching-dos-and-donts.html)

Costs/What to Be Prepared For

Of course, good customer service doesn’t come free. Commitment to customer service means exactly what it sounds like: hard work.

It’s also expensive. Depending on your defect rate, you may have to issue more or less replacements, but each replacement obviously puts a dent in your budget. As we’ve argued above, the cost of replacements should eventually pay itself off (and then some) by generating customer loyalty and positive reviews. However, it can still be painful (and detrimental) depending on the rate at which you need to issue replacements. Obviously, if you notice an abnormally high defect rate, it’s always a good idea to talk to your supplier to try to resolve the problem.

Additionally, the labor cost of addressing negative reviews like you would customer support tickets can’t be underestimated. You’ll need several team members who can dedicate a large amount of their time simply to dealing with customer concerns and responding to negative experiences if you want to truly commit.

Conclusion

Buyers who have been shopping on Amazon for long enough have begun to expect a higher standard of customer service from sellers. Yes, it will give you long-term benefits if you implement it, and for the moment, customer service can still set you apart from your competitors, but soon enough, it will be an implicit standard that must be met to be a top seller on Amazon. Will you get ahead of the pack, or wait until it’s too late?

For more information on Efficient Era’s tools, which can help you up your customer service to the next level, visit [efficientera.com](https://efficientera.com/).

This is a guest post by the Efficient Era team. Efficient Era offers a range of tools for alerts, analytics and automation for private label businesses on Amazon. Selling on Amazon is awesome yet full of countless time sinks that encroach on your valuable time. Our software solutions help Amazon power sellers get a closer look at their day-to-day operations, leaving them with more time to focus on the big picture.

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