6 Steps to a Successful Online Auction Business

Step 5: Customer Service

eBay is all about the "f" word: feedback. "The feedback rating is the core of the community, " says Collier. "Buying something from someone with a high positive feedback rating is always desirable from a buyer's point of view." It's also what separates the little guy from big companies. "People say that all the big retailers are starting to sell on eBay, so what chance [does the little guy have]? But there's no way a big company can give the customer service you can. [If a customer asks them a question about an item,] they have to go look for it in a big warehouse or read about it from a description. You can go over to the shelf, look at it and give the details. As an individual, you have a leg up on the big companies, especially if you specialize in a particular item you're very, very comfortable with."

eBay: Taking Care of Its Own
There were a few announcements at eBay Live, but one of the most exciting for many business owners was the upcoming implementation of a health-care program. "Many sellers have left behind their traditional businesses or employment and come to eBay to sell full time," says Kevin Pursglove of eBay. "That's good for eBay and good for them, but in many instances they've left behind their benefits package. We're looking for ways to leverage the power of the eBay community to help sellers qualify for possible health-care programs." Click here for more information.

What exactly entails customer service on eBay? A few things, starting with your auction itself. Listing your S&H and payment policies upfront makes it easier to do business with you. Accepting several forms of payment can also ease customer's concerns. When someone e-mails you about an item, answer quickly, thoroughly and courteously. And of course, when someone wins a bid and completes payment, send the item out as soon as humanly possible, if not sooner.

Joshua Mandell mails his products all over the world, sends out monthly mailings to his loyal customers about his products up for sale, offers money-back guarantees, and basically bends over backward to make sure he pleases his customers. "If a person has a good experience, they'll tell a couple of people or maybe nobody. If that same person has a bad experience, they will tell everybody," says Mandell. "You must serve the customers with 2000 percent of everything you have at your disposal, or they will not come back. If you do, they will come back again and again!"

Kathleen Manning also values her customers, and reflects it in her customer service. 'There is a true sense of community with eBay--an atmosphere of honesty and doing the right thing," says Manning. "I treat each of my buyers with courtesy, quality and customer service. You can't go wrong with this philosophy."

How to Start an Online Auction Business
  • Step 5: Customer Service
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