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Mon Dec 29 2008 22:16:05

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay may be considering whether to add CRM features to its My Messages feature to facilitate communications between buyers and sellers. The Messages page in My eBay is where members receive messages from eBay and from other eBay members.

A seller forwarded screenshots of a survey eBay conducted before Christmas. The survey asked which kinds of communications sellers engaged in with buyers, which CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or automation tools they used, what they found difficult or frustrating in dealing with eBay buyers, and their preferred methods of communicating with other eBay users. It also asked about eBay's "Ask Seller a Question" and "My Messages" features.



Another question asked which issues sellers had experienced in the past when communicating with buyers on eBay. The options included:

"I receive too many emails from buyers after they've already won the item"
"I'm not sure if buyers receive the emails I send them"
"Going back and forth with buyers during a dispute process is difficult"

Most multi-channel sellers I speak to say they spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with customers on eBay as opposed to other channels, including Amazon.com.





Comments (28) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Mon Dec 29 22:25:11 2008

I never get the really good surveys like this particular one.

The most recent one I just got, was about their customer service, and whether it answered my questions or not. That was a waste of time, it was bot-generated, just like all their canned answers.


I never got ANY surveys sent to me over the last 10 years (except the one I just mentioned) that I was a member. I never got any coupons either!

Maybe that was a blessing?

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: On Lies and Secrets

Mon Dec 29 23:51:30 2008

In my opinion, the ebay corporation needs to improve its own customer service between itself and buyers and sellers before jumping in the middle of transactions. One of the reasons why I suspect that ebay buyers require so much hand holding is because the ebay platform itself is so hard to use and it is hard to get an answer from  ebay itself.  The sellers are often doing ebay's work for them in many cases.  The ebay corporation recently removed the live help link from the top of the page which makes finding an answer difficult unless you are very familiar with the site. I think the first step to improving customer relationship management is to return the live help link to the top of each page and then adequately staff live help with employees who can answer questions well.

I suspect that the diamond level powersellers are finding that ebay buyers have different expectations than buyers on other venues.  I don't think you can satisfactorily automate responses to questions from ebay buyers - this isn't how ebay has worked traditionally. Ebay has not historically been a traditional retail environment with traditional retail customers.  Many buyers expect prompt, courteous personalized responses that directly address their question (even if the answer is in a huge font with bold letters in the listing itself).  It is not an easy thing to sell on ebay. Ebay sellers work very hard.  I think smaller sellers have a significant edge in terms of giving the type of customer service that ebay buyers historically expect.  I suspect that the diamond level powersellers would be best served by hiring more customer support staff to handle ebay sales in addition to trying to automate the process.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Balzenawe

Tue Dec 30 01:49:24 2008

I think eBay has always seemed to dodge any accountability with customer service. Laying off customer support staff recently after 'pledging' to increase support after these 2008 rule changes is just the latest example. For me, I quickly adapted to this years ago when I first joined and improved my own CS personally.

As was stated above, buyers historically have come to expect a certain level of CS from their sellers on eBay, but that is deteriorating rapidly, it seems. A lot of quality sellers who have had good CS are leaving, replaced by 'diamonds' who may not deliver on CS.

I would venture to say that this 'survey' will have bearing on a yet unannounced more 'sinister' motive, another 'de-provement'. Likely one that will 'mask' direct contact between trading partners and force all members to communicate under the 'scrutiny' of eBay [bots]. I think 'Big Brother' eBay has many more plans to insert itself into and control its members 'businesses' for their own profiteering reasons.

I hope that the possible removal of JD and company early this year may bring an end to the idiocy, and maybe restore a glimmer of integrity regarding eBay to many.

[just my opinions...]

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Jim S.

Tue Dec 30 06:45:07 2008

The planned changeover in the US (already active in other countries) that doesn't allow direct response via reply to the person's email address is a royal pain. I send out user guides in PDF format a few times a week to prospective buyers and the new system won't allow PDF formats (only graphic formats such as JPG, TIF, BMP). So, now I have to tell the person to send me another eBay message with their email address so I can send them what they need.

I have asked eBay to allow PDF format but no replies. They have become extremely paranoid.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: surprised

Tue Dec 30 08:12:24 2008

Gee I didn't know that the buyers even wanted to communicate with the sellers. They must want to do it after leaving negative feedback.

Another stupid ignorant miss step by ebay.

Fire Don A Hole and get someone with intelligence.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Dan

Tue Dec 30 08:13:24 2008

I believe ebay canned many of their long time customer service agents.  Actions on values from the Top speak louder than a few words from a survey.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: eBuyer Feedback

Tue Dec 30 08:18:45 2008

@ Jim

I think the system you are referring to actually filters out all email addresses in bodies of the emails so even your proposed system won't work.

If you'd like to get around that "feature" you'll need an email encryptor.  Fortunately I've made one.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Kitty

Tue Dec 30 09:16:50 2008

eBay should go back to "just being a venue" and stop meddling and micromanaging the business, interfering with free flowing communication and spend its time with developing its own customer service and most important Fraud control.
A customer who is taken advantage of or a seller who is scammed will never return and tell everyone they know about how terrible eBay is....oh, wait, too late. (or maybe not)

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Patricia

Tue Dec 30 11:33:37 2008

"eBay should go back to "just being a venue" and stop meddling and micromanaging the business, interfering with free flowing communication and spend its time with developing its own customer service and most important Fraud control.
A customer who is taken advantage of or a seller who is scammed will never return and tell everyone they know about how terrible eBay is....oh, wait, too late. (or maybe not) "

That just had to be repeated...I couldn't have said it better.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Bobbi85710

Tue Dec 30 12:07:52 2008

eBay is attempting to take action to copy all aspects of what is working for eBay alternatives like Bonanzle.

Too late for an image makeover...the best in buyers and sellers have moved on.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Rob

Tue Dec 30 13:09:42 2008

I love Bonanzle and forsee tremendous growth. But I seriously doubt Ebay is worrying about bonanzles success or trying to emulate Bonanzle.

Any one of Ebay's active top 50 sellers probably generates more sales in a single day than all the sellers on Bonanzle combined generate in a month.


I dont say that to rah rah ebay because I despise Ebay management and left the site months ago. But, I'm a realist, and the reality is Ebay probably generates more revenue during any given minute than Bonanzle sale will generate in 6 months, so I seriously doubt ebay's eyeballs are on Bonanzle.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: john

Tue Dec 30 15:42:57 2008

They should be making buyers and sellers communicate before buyers are able to leave negative feedback. We are tired of buyers leaving negs without any contact.

Where is the communication aspect there?

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: John

Tue Dec 30 16:01:49 2008

Several months back we got a survey from eBay about taking  paypal. All the questions were designed to to address doing business with paypal. There were a few questions about whether you would sell if  you were forced to take electronic payments. Then about 3/4 months after that survey they dropped there electronic payments to sell on eBay policy.....They are going to implement this in several months, I can guarantee it. This is their way of getting data for the change. It is already a done deal. Soon eBay will be controlling your communication with your buyer from start to finish.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: RichardC

Tue Dec 30 18:25:51 2008

This survey reminds me of the the orchestra leader on the Titanic asking the  audience what song they would like to hear next.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Robert

Tue Dec 30 21:09:20 2008

I know this doesnt apply to this blog, but, I think its is absolute B.S. that ebay is now sticking a 30 second credit card approval ad right underneath seller's gallery pic.


In case you havent seen it yet, here it is:

Get a 30-sec credit decision and make low monthly payments when you apply for an eBay MasterCard! US Residents Only. See Details

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Tue Dec 30 21:55:48 2008

Ebay's CEOs need to communicate with the members. The fact that they use "middle men" to do it FOR THEM is a cop-out.

When they can improve their own communications, then they can be in a position to help others improve as well.

At this point in time, there is NO real communications between ebay staff and fee paying members. That's not good. They need to work on their own problems before they try to tackle anyone else's.

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: ED

Wed Dec 31 00:04:50 2008

Ebay has "progessively" tried different ways to lower costs.  They have gotten rid of small sellers (that caused all that noise).  

Ebay, why don't you eliminate ALL sellers except your two most profitable diamond sellers.  

Just think of the money you'd save only having to communicate with two sellers.  

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Terry

Wed Dec 31 00:13:37 2008

I started on Ebay before Ebay even had ID's, we used emails as our ID's. There was no PayPal only the running to the bank or post office for cheques or money orders. Strangely enough I never lost a dime and always received funds for the items sold. Move forward 12 years and I find major problems with both buyers and sellers. There seems to be a growing element on Ebay that has a total lack of any kind of respect whether buying or selling an item. Not wanting to sound like my father it seems that a younger generation has lost a civil manner and now has a agenda of anything goes. Although they make up a small minority of people on Ebay they seem to be the ones that can make your life a misery. Ebay and Paypal have also grown into monsters as there pursuit of profits to feed stock holders has left there customer base in a bitter and angry mood. I have to say I enjoy Ebay less and less every day as battles with buyers and sellers now seem like a daily event. The only thing I can say for sure is that Ebay being the only game in town has left themselves wide open for a mass attack of new sites or what I have wished for for years a direct person to person selling site based much like what we see today on Torrent downloads leaving Ebay to relic of ''do you remember when........''

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Karen

Wed Dec 31 01:06:19 2008

My biggest frustration with the message system is that once I respond to a message I can't respond again.  Sometimes once is not enough when you are custom designing something for someone.  So I end up replying from my personal email where the original eBay message was delivered.
Karen

eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues   eBay Surveys Sellers on Customer Communication Issues

by: Another Wronged Seller

Wed Dec 31 04:59:42 2008

As a seller on amazon, ecrater, my own site, bonanzle and regretably ebay, buyers on ebay require a LOT more communication than any other site I've found. It's a huge amount of work communicating on ebay to questions that could easily be answered just by bothering to read the listing. On most of the other sites I rarely even get a question, just sales. In my experience, I have never found any other site that such a large percentage of buyers don't read the description before asking a question. Or even worse, receiving their item and than complaining that the item was not as described when the correct information WAS in the listing.

As big a pain as it is holding the buyers hand, frequent and timely communication is one of the keys to a satisfied buyer. Sending order confirmations, payment received, shipping confirmations and tracking info helps pre-empt some of the buyers emails. Unfortunately, some buyers don't even bother to read the emails you send, keep their email address current or use a spam filter.

If ebay restricts direct email contact with the buyers it will create a host of problems. I use stamps.com for shipping and the tracking number is emailed to the customer directly when the label is printed. Without the customers direct email, I would have to send separate emails to each customer with their tracking number creating a lot more work.

In addition, I agree with the above comments about sometimes needing to reply to the buyer more than once and ebay messaging doesn't permit more than one reply. Sometimes, a customer asks a question on the weekend or at night. ''Do you have 12 of these in stock?'', ''I see you have the blue listed, do you have it in green?'', etc.. Questions that I can't answer from home, si I reply that I'll check when I get back in the office the next day or monday and than the message shows as replied and won't allow a second reply. Stupid!

Bottom line, how did ebay send everyone this survey? Could it be email? Perhaps ebay ought to let us communicate with our customers through email just like they communicate with their customers (the sellers)

Anything that ebay does to hinder communication with buyers will likely just result in more angry buyers and consequently more bad DSR scores for us for communication.



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