EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 154 - November 06, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 8

Skype: Press One to Have Your eBay Question Answered

By Mark O'Neill

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For the past week or so, I have been experimenting with a new idea to help along my sluggish eBay auctions. With the recent announcement that eBay has bought Skype, I decided to download Skype to see what all the fuss was about. I was so impressed that I could immediately see the possibilities for eBay sellers.

That's when I decided to test my great new idea with a few of my new eBay auctions - Mark's eBay Customer Service Hotline. Press one to have your query answered, press two to be put on hold for 10 minutes before being abruptly disconnected, get the idea.

The Skype software is simple to download and it acts just like other chat programs such as ICQ and Yahoo Messenger. But the emphasis with Skype is not so much on online chat but on their telephone service. After downloading it, I set up my user account and then placed a small section in three of my eBay auctions with my Skype username, a little telephone icon, and an invitation to call with any questions. I plugged in the headset and waited for the phone to ring. Mark's eBay Customer Service Hotline was in business!

I waited,...and I waited,...I got a call from a strange person asking about my strange tastes in music who started laughing hysterically then abruptly hung up. No sale there. And so I continued to wait, and wait,...

Finally two days later, I actually got a call from someone in the UK! They had seen my very fine selection of collectible CDs and, being a Skype user themselves, they decided to give me a call. The actual inquiry about shipping costs only took a minute, but we ended up talking for 20 minutes about this "amazing Skype thingie."

During the course of the conversation, I discovered that his grandmother lives not too far away from my own parents! The customer ended up buying the eBay item and told me later that he appreciated the "personal touch" that Skype brought to the auction. Instead of an anonymous listing, there was a voice and a personality at the other end.

You could even turn your free Skype telephone line into a credit card processing line (if you have the capability to take credit card orders over the phone). Suddenly payments are speeded up, the irresistible personality comes into play....the possibilities are endless!

If you don't feel like manning the phone lines 24 hours a day, you can subscribe to Skype's Voicemail service for a small cost. Then when you are offline, eBay customers can leave messages that you can return later. You can even be like eBay and assign yourself a different name every 30 seconds ("Hi, this is Buck Rogers, how can I help you?"). You can also subscribe to a proper Skype phone number so people can call you from landlines and mobiles.

It's the little things that stand out the most on eBay, and Mark's eBay Customer Service Hotline could be what it takes to see my sales go through the roof.

Editor's Note: Readers should review a related article about how eBay's links policy may affect their use of Skype

About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'

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