[First, let me just stay that the photo above has nothing to do with this post. I just really love this bedroom (featured on finaldecors.com)!]
While I only work part time in my vintage business, I take it seriously and always endeavor to provide a good experience for a buyer. Here are a few things I do. While they are just basic, commonplace ideas, you’d be surprised how many online sellers don’t do them, some who have lost my business.
- Promptly answer product questions. Even if the listing has the information he or she is asking about, I’ll send it along. I’ll also take additional photos as requested and respond to queries for “best price” or offers.
- Allow returns. For any reason or no reason. For me, it’s the best policy. Bottom line, I want customers to be happy with their purchases. Even if you provide measurements, show lots of photos and list any defects, the item might not be as the buyer expected. And that’s not good. Thankfully in six years I’ve had less than 10 returns, so it’s no big deal. (I do not charge a restocking fee.)
- Include a copy of the invoice in the package with a little handwritten thank you. Honestly I am thankful for every order. Plus if a shipping label should get damaged, the invoice inside has the address.
- Wrap things with care. I send extra time and $ on shipping supplies to ensure that items arrive safely. Most things get layers of tissue paper wrapping before the bubble wrap. (I once received a very expensive turquoise bracelet in the mail that had just been thrown in the box with no cushioning or packing material. I was appalled. I will never buy from them again.)
Thankfully these guidelines seem to be working for me. Most of my customer interactions have gone seamlessly. Folks buy an item, I ship it and we’re done. About a third of the folks are thoughtful enough to leave me a review. (Thank you, thank you.) And a few even email me a lovely personal note that makes my day!
But yesterday, after six years, I got my first one-star review and it jangled me! Turns out the customer didn’t receive the item she ordered two weeks ago, but instead of contacting me first, she left a negative review. The real rub here is that the USPS tracking number shows the item was delivered to her address days ago!
Alas it’s getting more tangled. We’ve been in contact and she wants to know, “What do we do about this?” and “Whose fault is it that I didn’t get it?” (Oddly she mentioned in that same email that her front door is not a safe place for leaving packages, which begs the question why you would have things delivered to your home then.)
Now as a seller (and in general!), I always try to remain calm and professional…just like you do! I did not answer her pointed questions (honestly in this situation I think I’m at zero on the fault-o-meter) but suggested her best bet was to contact her local post office and have them help her. And of course I will help her in any way I can with info the post office may need.
This is not resolved yet and I will hear from her again, though it is a bit tough knowing that she is apportioning some blame to me. And angling for a refund. And of course she has already zapped me with a terrible review. A sad situation all around.
All this to say if you are just dipping your toe in the online reselling world, there will be a few frustrating customer moments down the road, but if you set up good practices from the get-go, those moments will be fewer.
All the best, and happy hunting in this season of yard sales,
P.S. Do tell if you have a “great” customer story. Would love to commiserate with you!
P.S.S. Or if you have other customer service practices that have served you well as a seller or buyer.