The View from England

Every Amazon A-Z claim is a failure in customer service

Every Amazon A-Z claim is a failure in customer service. I could have avoided every one of the claims filed against my company, no matter how unfair it was.

An Amazon A-Z claim can cost your company thousands of dollars. Too many claims could cost you your business. Regardless of fault or blame, regardless of right or wrong, an Amazon seller is better off having zero claims.

It all comes down to a customer’s perception. I cannot state this enough. The customer’s perception is the only thing that matters. This is the true meaning of an old saying: “The customer is always right.”

Check the listing

It starts with the listing on Amazon. You need good pictures, a good title, and a clear description that includes dimensions. This minimizes the instances whereby customers order a product, and then decide (after it arrives) that it’s not what they wanted.

When Amazon changes the title, picture, or description, make sure the change is better. Otherwise, insist that Amazon reverse the change.

For every Amazon order, carefully check what you are sending versus what the listing says about the product. Don’t assume that the catalogue entry has not been changed. Don’t assume that the catalogue entry properly matches what you are sending out. An extra 30-second check could prevent an A-Z claim if you find a discrepancy. You do not want to unwittingly send out something that differs from what the customer expects.

How to remedy

If the catalogue entry is significantly different from the product, contact the customer immediately, before you send the product. Describe the difference and obtain her agreement to continue before you dispatch.

If the difference is insignificant, or the customer does not reply promptly, enclose a letter with the shipment pointing out the difference and explaining why it occurred. Also, enclose a return label so that the customer can return the goods easily. This letter, properly worded, could cover 90 percent of such cases. It tells the customer that you have checked the order, cared about getting it right, and hopefully struck the right balance of delaying the shipment to consult with him.

When a customer emails with a problem, how you respond is vital. Reply immediately and, where possible, fix the problem. All too often generic replies acknowledge the problem, apologize, and offer meaningless platitudes or a future discount. But they fail to actually correct the problem. Every reply should be reviewed by a peer to confirm that it answered the customer’s question and there is a mechanism in place to ensure promised corrections are done. It is especially important to review the message history. Nothing annoys a customer more if you appear to be starting the conversation afresh every time.

My experience as a consumer

For example, I have recently had a spate of order problems — as a consumer — with Amazon. I purchased items using Amazon Prime and selected next day delivery. The order did not arrive and I received a text saying “delivery attempt failed, you were out” whilst I was sitting there waiting for it. I naturally complained. I then received a bland “sorry, but it will be delivered tomorrow” email. A standard “sorry” email is the last thing I wanted to see. I would have preferred an explanation of what went wrong, an assurance that it will be delivered (and how), and then actually receiving the goods.

I definitely understand that the additional work of comparing each sale with the product listing costs money. But so does losing the Buy Box, or being suspended. If you send hundreds of orders every day, you likely have a pick list with, presumably, multiple orders per product. In that case, check the Amazon listing only once per product — not once per order.

A merchant cannot please every customer. Some customers will complain regardless of the product or the merchant. Some will be dishonest. The trick is to ignore the merits of the issues. Identify those high-maintenance customers early on and refund them in full as soon as possible, before they raise an A-Z claim.

So take a good look at your processes for selling on Amazon. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective. Get it right the first time, every time.

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