|Thu Oct 22 2009 09:34:46|
eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?
By: Ina Steiner
Listeners to eBay's Town Hall meeting on Wednesday learned that the company experienced a delay in getting all eligible sellers into the new Top Rated Seller program. Those who saw that they qualified but did not see the badge appear by the midnight deadline were nervous yesterday morning. But no information was forthcoming from eBay.
A seller named Patti from Miami, Florida, called in to the Town Hall. She said when she called customer service yesterday morning to find out why her TRS badge was not appearing, a representative told her she would have to wait 30 days.
eBay executives apologized for the 12 hour delay in getting everyone into the program, but Patti pressed the point, asking why she could not find any information about the delay on the systems announcement board or in the discussion forums. "What are you doing to instruct customer reps?" she asked.
Chris (PowerWheelerChris) called in and told eBay managers that when he had called eBay with a question, he was on hold for 90 minutes and was then disconnected. He called back and was placed on hold for another 45 minutes until he gave up. (This echoes some of the emails I receive from readers.)
eBay's Lorrie Norrington said eBay is reshaping customer service so that their couple of thousand reps can all take calls - some of them had been limited to email or live-chat.
Chris asked if eBay was planning changes to feedback. eBay's Brian Burke said eBay was constantly looking to improve feedback and is testing different versions. It's just in test mode, but the goal is to improve the system. (Here's a link to an AuctionBytes blog post about the tests.)
Herb from Texas Called in and said he had noted the Stores in Search test last week, and said his sales improved during the test. He asked eBay to make Store items in core search a permanent feature. eBay's Todd Lutwak said eBay was testing it and made no commitment either way. (Here's a link to an AuctionBytes blog post about the tests.)
Todd Lutwak also had advice for sellers on Best Practices for Best Match search. Choose keywords very carefully - if they are too general, they will drive impressions but not sales, which will hurt under the new Recent Sales to Impressions ratio algorithm.* And he recommended becoming a Top Rated Seller.
*Fixed Price listings in most categories will have a listing performance score based on the listing's recent sales in relation to the number of recent impressions it received. An "impression" is any time a buyer sees a search results page that includes the listing. (link)
Mr. Lutwak also had advice for sellers using the Featured First - if you are a seller who uses this feature, I highly recommend you listen to his advice - it's about an hour in to the program.
Keith wanted to know if problems with Google were responsible for his plummeting sales, while Louse said her sales were up - until she got a neutral feedback on Saturday.
One seller emailed a question: why isn't leaving feedback mandatory. Another seller asked why a buyer is able to leave a negative feedback on shipping costs when shipping is free. While eBay managers said they were "kicking around" this idea, they gave reasons against doing this.
Two sellers called in with examples of search terms that brought back less-than-targeted results. Bernard said the search for "dog doors" brought back everything from dog crates to door stops in the top 50 results. Bernard said he had reported the problem to his account rep over 2 years ago, and he said, now it's worse. eBay's Julie told Bernard eBay was using sales and impressions in search, and said, we could be doing a better job on this particular query.
A little later, Cindy from California echoed Bernard's frustration, saying a search for "twirling batons" brought back listings for costumes and baton-twirling Barbies.
eBay's Lorrie Norrington said eBay is working on opening the search platform and said sellers will be able to crate the catalog, which is only available in certain categories right now. (eBay CEO John Donahoe also told Wall Street analysts about this yesterday, see today's news article.)
Bev in Chicago wanted to know if a buyer failed to respond to a UPI claim, would eBay reimburse her seller fees. eBay's Kristina Klausen said under the new system that just rolled out, the answer was yes.
Another seller mailed in their thanks and kudos for the recent changes that rewarded quality over quantity. There were some additional questions from sellers. eBay generally makes the audio archive available at some point after the events.
After listening to the meeting and writing up these very rough notes, I would say that all top eBay executives should be required to listen to last night's Town Hall meeting. Anyone outside the industry looking in cannot understand what a major change the Top Rated Seller program is, and how complex selling on eBay is these days. To compound matters, eBay is constantly running tests that have sellers scurrying to figure out what's going on and what may be changing next. The Sacred Cows of feedback and PowerSeller Status have been turned on their heads, with yet more changes to feedback being tested.
It's also clear from listening to callers that eBay's customer service is woefully inadequate and that reps are not briefed on what's happening on the platform. The question really becomes, why is eBay constantly moving the cheese? I'm guessing even eBay employees are feeling that way these days.