EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 156 - December 04, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 6

How Customer Opinions Can Improve Your eBay Business

By Mark O'Neill

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In my quest to find out the true extent of the Mark O'Neill fan club, I have taken customer feedback to a whole new level: online customer surveys.

In some of my previous articles, I have talked about the importance of asking for and receiving eBay feedback ( However, the 80-character maximum on eBay does not give the customer much of a chance to tell you very much about what they really think about your service. Eighty characters can only give you a general idea, but you need more than that if your eBay auctions are to be a real success. You have to listen to the people that buy from you. So it falls upon you to take things a step further by delving deeper and asking more probing questions.

I have been using a service called Freedback ( for the past few months. You make the questions on your online user account and then you copy and paste the code into your website. Or if you prefer, you can dispense with Freedback altogether by writing your own questions and emailing them to the customer.

When a sale ends, the money has been received, and the item shipped, I wait one week. I then email the customer, thanking them again for their order, and then the clincher: I offer a 10-percent discount on their next purchase with me if they complete my customer satisfaction survey. Everyone loves a discount, so I have received many responses, and the replies have been very informative. Each week, I collect the information together and find the overall picture of how I am doing.

You can see my online customer satisfaction survey at Using the answers to these questions, I have been able to determine what made the customer happy and what annoyed them. Did they find my shipping costs reasonable? Are they happy with the eBay feedback I gave them? Can they make any suggestions how I can improve my service?

Many of my customers have taken full advantage of the soapbox I have offered them, and I have received a mixture of praise, complaints, constructive criticism and suggestions on how I could improve. One customer was so impressed with my willingness to listen to him that he offered me a business deal! Another responded by sending me a wish list of things she was looking for. Many have responded with the words, "thanks for asking my opinion."

Analyzing the information, you can spot trends. Are people continually complaining about long delivery times? That may tell you a talk to your post office is in order. Are people saying your prices are too expensive and they probably won't buy from you again? That's good to know in advance, because now you can take proactive measures to bring them back by reviewing your prices and checking on the competition.

All these questions are very worthwhile because, if you are making ongoing mistakes in your eBay auctions, it may be quite some time before you find out. However, if you take the initiative and ask, you may find out sooner rather than later. It also makes a good impression on your customers that you are interested in what they have to say. No longer are you the anonymous eBay user ID - you are now the caring, interested, kind merchant who listens to your customers.

How's that for attracting repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals?

Set up your own feedback surveys
Freedback offers a free version. The plus version ($9.95 a month) gives you more features such as auto-responders.

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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