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eBay: The best schooling in customer service

Imagine if there was a business right here, right now, that could show you how to provide the very best customer service possible, and it’s all available to you right under your nose. There are a myriad of online brands that would think they fit the bill, but surprise of all surprises, that business is eBay Australia.

eBay has incredibly high standards when it comes to customer service. Understandable when looking at the varied range of offshore (and onshore) sellers on eBay and the wide breadth of experiences that Australian consumers have on the eBay platform.

eBay’s business model may not be for every brand and every product, but the level of customer service that eBay expects its sellers to provide their buyers is driving the customer service experience in Australia. And as consumers we are being conditioned to expect this high level of customer service. It’s a game changer.

Not being on top of eBay’s customer service requirements can cost your business dearly, but the flipside is that if you are on top of eBay’s customer service requirements, you quickly realise that eBay’s policies make sense and you will roll it out for all sales, whether they are on or off the eBay platform.

Many consider eBay’s feedback system to be an elephant in the room – so let me state my view that it works, and is effective and its not going away anytime soon, so let’s not sweat the small stuff. However, your business should have policies and processes in place to manage any negative feedback, thereby removing it from your list of pain points.

eBay’s lead in the charge for excellent customer service has to be its introduction  and recent refinement of guaranteed returns and many eBay sellers are either:

–          Not fully aware how it works,


–          Don’t have the manpower to manage this process.

Yes, its labour-intensive, but it provides the consumer with a risk-free purchase. By introducing risk-free purchasing, you’re providing e-commerce best practice and an unbeatable experience for the consumer. Once the purchase is risk-free, the buyer has no reason to go anywhere else. The prices are rock bottom, and its now risk-free.

How does eBay’s guaranteed returns work?  If you log into eBay and locate the purchased item in your buying history, eBay will ask you if you wish to return it.  Imagine that? They actually ask you if you want to return it. Once the consumer clicks this button, it sets in motion a chain of events that you, the seller, are required to manage, and if you don’t manage it, you are not being responsive to your customer’s wishes. Don’t resolve the matter within eBay’s specified time frames and eBay will automatically refund the consumer and charge it  to your account. Not only do you lose the revenue, you lose any goodwill that you had up to that point with the customer.

Once you have trained and resourced your business to manage the process, you will soon find that this level of customer service becomes the norm. We found that it changed our mindset, in a way that allows risk-free purchases for all our consumers. It goes back to basics – provide your customers both on and off the eBay ecosystem with easy and risk-free transactions – and you give them no reason to buy anywhere else.

The devil is in the detail, and its vital to train and sufficiently resource your team to handle these guaranteed returns. It’s e-commerce best practice and if you are not doing it, ask yourself why.

Neville Samuels assists on projects on a consulting basis.

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