5 customer support hacks to increase sales on Amazon
When it comes to being a successful seller on Amazon, fast customer support is vital. An efficient strategy can help reduce the number of returns, improve your team’s overall performance and even increase a customer’s lifetime value.
You can watch the webinar here or read the transcript below.
Here’s what you will learn.
- The value of speed and how to improve your response time
- How to boost sales with an effective support strategy
- How to create effective support templates
xSellco: Hello everyone! Welcome to another xSellco webinar, co-hosted today with our friend Chad Rubin from Skubana, and we’re going to discuss the need for speed when it comes to customer service on Amazon. We’ll be going over five tried-and-true tactics that will not only boost your efficiency on Amazon but also your sales.
Since we’re talking about the need for speed in customer service, I’d like to start off today with a question.
In line with our topic for today, our question is: How long does it take the average company to respond to a customer query? Is it A, 12 hours, B, 8 hours, or C, 9 hours? While you all have a think about that and fill out your answer, we’ll jump into introducing ourselves and the agenda for today’s webinar.
We’ll be covering three main areas today. After we give you a brief background on xSellco and Skubana, we’ll look at some key metrics around customer service on Amazon, before moving on to five simple solutions that will speed up your response times and Chad will also talk us through six customer support templates that actually get results. We’ll also talk a little bit about xSellco’s integration with Skubana and how that kind of connectivity and automation can really improve your operations.
And there we are, your hosts for today. I’m Lyndsay McGregor and I’m the content manager here at xSellco and I’m delighted to be joined today by Chad Rubin, CEO and co-founder of Skubana.
Chad Rubin: Thanks for having me. Just been doing a little Prime Day shopping myself. Threw in a Fat Boy lounger that you can take to the park. I bought a few other things that had been in my cart for a while as well.
So far, looking at my own Seller Central account and just looking at what’s happening on the Skubana platform, everyone seems to up this Prime Day over last year. Even with the blips that Amazon are experiencing, it looks like revenue is up this year over last year.
In terms of me, I’ve been selling across multiple channels. I started off back in the day with a Volusion site. My parents had a vacuum store and I helped bring them online. And I decided I didn’t want to be a re-seller anymore, I want to own the brand. So before even direct-to-consumer private labeling was cool, I started manufacturing my own vacuum filters and selling them direct to the consumer under my own brand, called Crucial. That business still survives today. It’s been a decade, so I’m a first-generation Amazon seller. I now sell out of 20 different channels: Home Depot, Wayfair, Overstock and any single platform and shopping cart I possibly can to help us generate more revenue and diversify.
I needed a software to do that, which is how we started Skubana as an all-in-one platform to run and automate my business. I only have one employee in the United States so we needed a ton of technology to automate processes and beat our competitors.
xSellco: For those of you tuning in who might not be familiar with xSellco, we are a connected e-commerce platform that helps online sellers manage support, feedback and pricing in one place.
Chad: A lot of sellers know what they make on Amazon and other channels, but they don’t know what they keep. That’s a big differentiator for us, that you can understand on a SKU by SKU level how much money you’re making at the end of the day. Even if you print a shipping label, that costs something and affects your actual profitability. [With Skubana] you can double down on what makes you more money and lighten up on the stuff that’s losing you money. You can automate a ton of your business, like purchase orders.
xSellco: Thanks Chad. So before we get started, let’s quickly come back to our question and share the results and see if everyone guessed the right answer. So 46 percent picked A, 44 percent picked B and just 12 percent picked C.
And the answer is A, 12 hours. This stat comes from a 2018 study from SuperOffice, which found that a majority of companies are failing to meet customer expectations when it comes to how quickly they respond to messages from customers. And that’s a problem because consumers today are so connected that 64 percent of them expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real time.
Amazon sellers especially need to be on top of their support game. As I’m sure you’re aware, Amazon is a customer-centric company and providing a great customer experience is hugely important to Amazon’s performance metrics and to winning the Buy Box.
I know a majority of you folks tuning in today are Amazon sellers so this screenshot of buyer-seller contact metrics should be familiar to you. As you can see, Amazon recommends that at least 90 percent of messages from buyers should be responded to within 24 hours and late responses should be kept under 10 percent.
Amazon defines response time as the amount of time that elapsed between when a buyer message was received and when your response was sent through Buyer-Seller Messaging, including on weekends and holidays.
Chad: This is actually a screenshot of my account by the way. What you’re looking at are the response times. We said 12 hours is the average. I’m very proud of my team, we’re at 5 hours over the past seven days.
xSellco: It’s great. As you said, your average response time for the past seven days was 5 hours and 10 minutes. Amazon wants it under 24 hours, so you are speedy! It drives home the fact that Amazon’s targets are the minimum scores required for Buy Box eligibility. Everyone should really be thinking of these targets as a threshold, not a benchmark. If you want a shot at winning the Buy Box, you should be aiming to reply to customers in 12 hours or less. And Chad is hours under that.
Chad: And I’ll tell you, there are two ways I do that. I have two shifts happening. We actually have a weekend shift, virtual assistants that are responding for us. I am very customer-centric when it comes to this. I follow these metrics on a daily basis. I actually believe that Amazon helps us be a better retailer and merchant because it’s giving us this threshold. Our job is to gamify it and beat those thresholds. So we have different shifts that come in with virtual assistants and we try to make this process as efficient as we possibly can.
One of the things I want to point out on this slide is the Customer Service Dissatisfaction Rate. Amazon recently launched this in beta, where it will ask people how their experience has been. And you can request this report on the backend to see what people are saying and hold your customer service reps accountable to it. We’ll try our best to improve based on what we see on that report.
xSellco: Customer Service Dissatisfaction Rate is an important metric. It’s the percentage of customers who are not satisfied with your responses in Buyer-Seller Messaging. When you respond to a buyer message about an order, Amazon includes a customer survey immediately below your response asking “Did this solve your problem?” and buyers can respond “Yes” or “No.” Amazon’s target for sellers is less than 25 percent. At this time there is no penalty for not meeting that target but buyers with unresolved problems are more likely to submit negative feedback and claims. It gives you an idea of how well your team is doing.
Chad: The one reason we’re not a top-rated seller is that we had an issue with people going directly to Amazon as opposed to settling the issues directly with us. So I’ve instructed my team that whatever you need to do, we do not want customers to hit that dissatisfied button, which penalizes us.
xSellco: One thing to point out about this metric is that currently there is no penalty for not meeting that target. However, Amazon has said that buyers with unresolved problems are more likely to submit negative feedback and claims. So it’s important to pay attention to this and see how you’re doing to ensure you’re getting only positive feedback and no claims.
Chad, do you have anything else you’d like to add here before we move on?
Chad: Any time Amazon is beta-testing something, it’s going to be official at some point. So it’s important to start working on these processes now as opposed to later.
xSellco: Lastly, your Feedback Score is another big one for the Buy Box. This score is based on all the customer feedback you have received throughout your seller history. That’s all positive, neutral and negative feedback. And the most recent comments have the biggest impact on your score. A feedback score about 90 percent is essential to win the Buy Box, but again, you should really be aiming for 97 percent or higher. And the more feedback you have, the better. So that’s all the more incentive to respond to customers faster and leverage that great support experience in order to get more positive feedback.
So now that you know how important speed is to customer service on Amazon, we’re going to discuss five factors that affect your efficiency on Amazon and offer some simple solutions to help you speed up response times.
First up, meeting Amazon’s target response time. As we already said, Amazon requires sellers to respond to 90% of buyer messages within 24 hours—even on weekends and holidays. And generally, customers who receive responses within 12 hours are more satisfied with their support experience.
However, there are some factors that affect sellers’ ability to meet that target. Number one, customer support hours are usually Monday to Friday. According to our own internal data here at xSellco, when our clients reach their targets, it’s typically on a Monday and we’ve put this down to them having a lack of weekend support staff. Another factor that can affect your ability to respond to customers quickly is that sellers typically see a surge in message volume during specific times of the year, like in the lead-up to Christmas or on big online shopping days like Prime Day or Cyber Monday.
Chad: One thing I’ll say is that a lot of people look at customer support as a tedious task. For us, I’ve tried to shift the mentality of my team to say “How can we help leverage this relationship into better feedback and reviews”? There’s reciprocity. We help people and then they are going to want to help us. Think about that.
xSellco: One way to improve your response times on Amazon is to invest in an e-commerce help desk that gives you a 360-degree view of every customer’s transaction. When you can see product and order details, delivery information and any previous communication right there within each message, you don’t have to waste any time digging for that information and can respond faster.
An e-commerce help desk such as xSellco Helpdesk also helps you to stay on top of your target response times with an SLA counter that prioritizes messages based on how long you have left to respond. And when a ticket isn’t responded to within the targets that you have set, it will be marked as Overdue in your Messages dashboard. We color-coded everything so you can easily see how urgent the message is and how long you have left to reply. It can be very helpful, especially if you’re trying to meet all those Amazon targets.
Chad: I love that countdown as I think it gamifies everything for your customer support team. Their job can be extremely tedious and they are the first line of defense.
Repetitive customer questions can also affect your efficiency on Amazon. They’re a common problem for customer support teams and anyone asked the same question over and over will eventually respond impatiently—or not at all. According to our data here at xSellco, the most common tickets our clients receive are product questions and delivery questions.
But just because you receive the same question over and over doesn’t mean you have to type out the reply over and over. You can use saved replies or templates to help speed up your response time. Here at xSellco, we’ve found that when our clients use at least five templates, they cut their response times in half.
I’m now going to pass it over to Chad who’s going to talk us through some templates and auto-replies that he uses and has seen great success with.
Chad: There’s the Pareto Principle; the 20 percent of the requests that arrive consume 80% of your time. So if you’re seeing the same request over and over it highlights the importance of template responses.
For us, we need to make this as personalized as possible. So, you’ll see on this slide someone has said: “Where’s my order?” We see that all the time. So we give people what they need. And even someone has an issue with their order we see this as a gateway to actually helping them and earning their business, not just from this one-time buy but the repeat business or even a product review. We look at this as an engagement opportunity.
In this example, we make everything easy and to-the-point, we separate the sentences. By the way, we always address people by their first name. We don’t send clunky paragraphs because people don’t have the attention spans these days. We keep things concise.
Same thing for “How do I return my order?” We actually have an automated return process. We’ll always return people’s money, no matter what. Amazon is so customer-focused, they are always going to side with the customer. So you’re better off just accepting the return straight away.
On the next slide, you’ll see that we are very hands-off on the returns side of things. They can email us and they can also go to our website and we get that return label back to them. This slide is an insert that goes into all of our packaging. We want to make sure it’s seamless.
This is where you go in, enter your email address and go through the return process. We have Pay On Use return labels, which by the way you can do on Skubana, which means you only pay for the return label once it enters the postage system. There’s a lot of return fraud that happens, where someone says “This didn’t fit, please give me a refund and I’ll send it back” and then they never send it back to you. In Skubana, there’s a whole operational process of accountability where you can track those returns. You only pay for the label when someone gets up and returns it.
xSellco: A question has been asked: What are your opinions on customers who open returns requests way after 30 days? What’s the best way to deal with these situations?
Chad: That happens all the time. It depends if it’s on Amazon or off Amazon, but at the end of the day, you want the same experience across all the channels. Now, on Amazon if someone requests a refund and you don’t refund them, then they are going to go to Amazon and Amazon will issue the refund anyway. So I would start the dialogue with the customer and try to understand what is the issue behind that return. Is it because it didn’t fit? Is it because they’re not happy? See if you can solve it before the person actually returns it. We have a very lenient returns policy. That’s just the cost of doing business in e-commerce. Customers expect a real-time response and your return policy is in-line with Amazon’s. They’ll do whatever it takes to get their money back.
xSellco: Do you find that it’s cheaper for you to do that than maybe down the line having to deal with an A-to-Z claim?
Chad: We always want to know why they want a refund. It could be buyer’s remorse, or it could be that they don’t know how to install it. We try to get to the center of the refund request. That’s important to note about tickets, it’s not about who can respond the fastest. It’s about time to resolution, how you can actually solve someone’s issue so you don’t have to make them jump through hoops to get a sufficient response.
Chad: Another template here. Again, this is a question that is constantly coming up. We personalize it, we automate it. If you think about it, every tab you have open, with every keystroke your employee makes, it’s costing you money. So, how can you speed things up? Automate it and have your team working on other high-value activities.
These are all very standard. If you perchance oversold something, if you’re selling thousands of it a day. That won’t happen if you have Skubana, but if it does this is the kind of template you can use.
This one is in response to people asking for a lower price. It’s a standard question that comes up for us. We can actually go back into Skubana to see the lifetime value of that customer. You can see who is your biggest FBA customer and see who’s spending the money with you on FBA. And sometimes we actually do offer a discounted price, so it just depends on the person, how many purchases they’ve made, is it a person or is it a business or a not-for-profit?
With this slide then, people will say “I purchased this by accident” and we’ll cancel it. Again, this is automated, just really quickly getting to the point. Any time the customer interacts with you is an opportunity, not just to get things right but to add value. Even if they are returning something to you, they can still actually leave feedback for you. You can wow people with customer support and either get them to buy from you again or do something for you like leaving a review or seller feedback.
xSellco: Yeah, it’s all about the experience. As Chad says, even if they are canceling an order, if you make that experience as seamless as possible they are going to remember that.
Chad: We automate purchase confirmation emails. We design them in different ways for our 20 different channels. You can customize it and say if it’s this channel or this particular item I want to use this particular email. You can be proactive and say, what are my most returned items, and start creating a delightful experience for your customers straightaway and prevent returns from happening. So think about what your confirmation emails look like and have some personality in there. Like, we’ll use some gifs, we’ll make it interactive. Think about what you can do to be proactive about returns and it’ll go a really long way.
This was something I actually read in a book called “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris. It was an interview with a guy from CD Baby. He started a used CD company. He’s actually a really good speaker. This is his confirmation email for purchases and it went viral. People love it. It’s creating that humanized element that I think is missing in a lot of these interactions. It curates a really good response and it resonates well with you. If you can just add some personality to your follow-up emails and your emails, in general, it will go a really long way.
What Skubana does and what xSellco does, combined, is create that experience after the checkout to ensure you’re delighting the customer. Something to keep in mind as we continue this webinar.
xSellco: Especially as order confirmation emails can be so bland and robotic. Adding some personality, like CD Baby did, people are going to remember that.
We have some questions Chad, and maybe you’ll be able to answer them. One asks, “If a buyer files a return request with return reason ‘inaccurate description’ but the description is accurate, should we send them a message and ask them to tell us what is the inaccurate part of our listing”?
Chad: Yeah, I would. Get to the root issue of what about it is inaccurate. And you should create a template for that, just asking “Hey, what’s inaccurate?” If you’re getting that all the time, I recommend you go ahead and try to fix it.
xSellco: Someone else says “There are times when tracking numbers show packages as delivered before they actually arrive. When customers message you about this, how do you answer them and do you have a sample template for this?”
Chad: I would come up with a sample template for this. As it’s a living thing, as people respond to it, you’re going to want to improve it and build on it.
xSellco: Another factor that can affect your response times on Amazon is if Amazon isn’t your only sales channel. And Chad just told us he’s selling on 20 different ones, so he’s definitely an expert on this. Maybe you’re selling across multiple platforms, such as Shopify, eBay, Walmart or any other online marketplace, in addition to Amazon, and maybe your customers have the ability to contact you over email or Facebook or Twitter too. And each channel may also have a different target response time associated with it.
And if your multichannel customer service strategy isn’t up to scratch, you might have to juggle multiple accounts and logins to keep track of tickets on every channel, which is not only time-consuming, it can also impact your response times.
On top of that, messages are more likely to slip through the cracks when support agents are overwhelmed.
Because an e-commerce help desk like xSellco Helpdesk has live connections to over 60 e-commerce channels, it means you can pull all your messages and order details from all your channels into one place. This helps you build a support queue that allows you to prioritize tickets and speed up response and resolution times.
Our integration with Skubana actually kicks that efficiency up a notch. By connecting your Helpdesk and Skubana accounts, you can quickly find an order ID, order details or access a specific product invoice in your xSellco dashboard. The example seen here was attached to a support ticket that one of our shared clients recently received from a customer who wanted to know when his order would be delivered. As you can see, all the necessary information the support team needed to send a reply was at their fingertips.
Chad: I want to point out that the integration between xSellco and Skubana is completely free. And another thing, is the more information your customer support team has at their disposal, the fewer clicks, the fewer tabs open, the more efficient they can be. For the first time, every piece of information you could possibly want is on one page, including the tracking number.
xSellco: Exactly. You receive a query, you open it up and if the issue is “Where’s my order” you can see straight away when the order was sent, payment received, delivery method, when it’s expected to arrive, even the shipping fee, it’s all right there. It’s so quick and easy for your support agents to respond.
xSellco: Next up, questions from international customers. Amazon now has 13 marketplaces and buyers in over 180 countries. In general, if you’re selling to international customers, it’s always best practice to communicate with them in their local language in order to provide the best possible customer service. But on Amazon, it’s a requirement to do so. Sellers are expected to provide customer support in a marketplace’s local language.
xSellco: Chad is going to talk us through the next couple of slides and what he discovered.
Chad: Amazon actually expects your customer support team to respond in the native language. Here’s a performance violation from Amazon Italy. We didn’t have standard operating processes around this, that when you get an email from someone in another country you have to respond back in their own language. It was something we had neglected.
If you look at the next slide, you’ll see we translated it and number one, we needed to comply. Number two, it’s so time-consuming to go to Google Translate. One of the reasons I love xSellco is that it unifies everything, you don’t need to have more and more tabs open.
As you see in the next slide, xSellco automates that translation for you.
xSellco: Thanks Chad. So while you could hire a bunch of multilingual support agents, there is an easier way. Many sellers handle language requirements through a mix of Amazon’s translation support and external translation providers. Here at xSellco, our Helpdesk software has a built-in auto-translation feature. So if you receive a message from a customer in, say, Germany, but you don’t speak German, xSellco will translate that incoming message into the language that you speak so you can understand and respond to your customer’s query and your response will then be translated into the customer’s language before it’s sent. That way you’re fulfilling Amazon’s requirement to provide support in a marketplace’s local language.
Chad: And while we’re on the subject of automating translations. It’s so important when translating the product listings that you have someone who is a native speaker of the language do it. For example, a “vacuum” doesn’t actually translate that well into other languages. It’s called a hoover in the U.K. This is one way to personalize a message and also to comply with Amazon’s guidelines.
There’s a question here, “Is this expectation only on international Amazon marketplaces? Sometimes we get messages on Amazon.com (USA) that is in a different language. Are we required to answer in that buyer’s language, even on the U.S. Amazon site”?
It’s determined by the marketplace. So if you’re selling on Amazon.de, the German site, and you get a question in German and you respond in English, that’s a violation. But if you received a question in German on the U.S. Amazon site, then you are entitled to respond in English.
Chad: That’s correct. I want to peel that back though. Imagine if someone writes to you in their own native language, and you respond in that same language? That would wow that customer. It’s going above and beyond their expectation. Now you can get a review, feedback. There’s so much more to it. You’ll get a lot more back than if you just respond in English.
xSellco: Absolutely. I’ve had experiences where I’ve messaged international sellers in English and they either don’t respond at all or I get a response back in French, (or whatever language). It’s so frustrating. You have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think what you’d like most.
We’ve already discussed automated and saved replies and how useful they can be in speeding up your responses, but meeting your target response times is useless if you’re not fulfilling your customer’s expectations around the support experience.
Yes, they want instant answers, especially for time-sensitive issues, but they also want to be treated like a human being. And auto-replies, when used incorrectly, can end up sounding cold, robotic and unfriendly. Like you’re just another number in a queue.
Look at this email that I received. You think “Oh great, they’ve gotten back to me so fast” and then you see it’s an auto-response and they’re not actually going to respond for another few days.
This is unfortunate because personalized emails actually deliver 6 times higher transaction rates than generic ones.
But of course, it’s not possible to write a personalized reply to every message because that’s time-consuming. And if you’re receiving a large volume of messages and trying to type out a reply to each and every one, you run the risk of rushing those responses and making mistakes.
That being said, personalization is a must-do as 88% of consumers expect a personalized experience. And at the end of the day, the more human you are with your customer, the better you can showcase your respect for customers as individuals, and in turn, the higher your sales will be.
So if you want to increase customer satisfaction, you should be addressing your customers by name. Most email marketing software offers you the ability to insert your customer’s first name but it’s worth taking the time to insert as many custom variables as you can in order to make sure the email comes across as personalized as possible. If you’re using help desk software like xSellco Helpdesk you can even insert certain details pertaining to that customer’s order, such as their delivery address and their expected delivery date. You can set as many conditions as you need to make the template appropriate to certain common queries.
Chad: What other variables can you use with xSellco?
xSellco: There’s a number of ones that are pre-built and included straightaway, like name order date and so on. But you can also create your own custom variables, depending on what your business is and what you sell and to what extent you want to personalize those emails. It’s up to you. Sizes, languages, currency. All those things you can add in. You can set the conditions to make the template as appropriate as you need.
And that brings us to the end of our presentation. Just to quickly recap, we explained how to prioritize tickets based on urgency, how to shorten your response times with saved replies, why you should invest in software that streamlines your operations if you’re a multichannel seller, how auto-translate can help you speak any customer’s language and lastly, how personalizing customer communication will increase loyalty.
Chad: I think we covered it, but this whole presentation us about how you can be more efficient with your processes, how can you automate mundane and repetitive tasks with the click of a button? And how can you wow customers so they go above and beyond for you.
xSellco: All right, I’d like to open it up to questions from the floor for the rest of the time that we have today. “Chad, does responding to feedback help your score on Amazon? Sometimes there is an explanation for a customer’s comments. We respond in public so that other customers can see the reason behind our decisions. Does Amazon consider this at all”?
Chad: Great question. First of all, if you’re going through a dispute on Amazon it’s good to have all that as proof. It helps to document the situation. As regards the question, if you’re a re-seller and you’re competing for the Buy Box, I would say that [responding to feedback] helps you because Amazon can see that you’re responding and that you have policies in place. Amazon is going to reward you with the Buy Box. So, for sure, it can’t hurt you. And again, I’m all about going above and beyond. If you’re doing that and others aren’t, I would consider that a competitive advantage.
Speed up your customer response times