How to answer customers’ questions

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This sounds like an easy thing to do. It’s not. Answering customer questions can have a big influence on your sales, but you have to do it right.

First of all, don’t use a script or a canned answer. People notice. It makes you look like you can’t be bothered. Answer each question with a fresh answer. Take the question seriously and answer it specifically.

Don’t disrespect the user. If they have problems using the product, think about why. Maybe they’re using it in a way you didn’t intend, but you didn’t actually note in your listing that your product isn’t fire-resistant, or is only intended for occasional use, or indoors use, or for pets up to 10 kg weight. They’re not stupid if they didn’t know that. Apologize, and send them in the right direction for their needs – which might, of course, be another of your products.

Or if it’s simply that they can’t find the ‘on’ button, point out where it is, and you might say something like “It’s quite well hidden”…

And if a user raises safety issues – for instance, sharp edges that shouldn’t be there – take this very seriously indeed. You need to address the issue or it will be a red flag for ever.

Also, answer quickly. As soon as a question shows up in Seller Central, you want to address it, so it’s obvious that you’re a serious seller and take your customers seriously.

Use keywords in your answer so your product page is even more full of the right keywords. So for instance, in your answer for someone who couldn’t get a German shepherd into your dog carrier for small dogs, you’ll use “dog carrier,” “dog carrier for small dogs”, “pet carrier”, and so on.

Keep answers short. Don’t waffle on. A good answer is precise and concise: “When you unbox the product, you need to pull the plastic protector off the battery compartment and then charge it for two or three hours. We hope you’ll enjoy using it.”

But don’t make your answers too short. “Is this dog chew good for cats too?” should not simply get a yes/no answer, but some information – that it’s intended for bigger animals, for instance, but you have a cat chew including catnip which is very popular. You can also include a little bit about your brand values.

And make sure the customer gets a solution. If the product’s broken, something happened during shipping, or it’s not the right product for their needs – sort their problem out, and apologize. If you make sure the customer ends up feeling good, you’re addressing potential buyers’ worries about ordering the product; “I don’t need to worry, look, this guy got his money back with no quibbles when it didn’t work.”

That’s good practice for answering questions. But the questions can also be put to use in improving your business. For instance, does a question show that your listing is missing some important information? You need to think about how to provide that information in your listing. For instance, with the dog carrier, you might use

•      the phrase “for dogs under 10 kilos weight” in the product description,

•      an infographic showing dog breeds that will fit the carrier (Papillon, Yorkie, Schnauzer, Chihuahua),

•      a video showing an owner and dog using the carrier.

You might also decide to create a flier to include with the product addressing some of the basic issues – how to unbox and use the product, intended uses, any warnings required, such as “not suitable for small children”.

Moving on from improving your listing, customer questions can also be a cue to improve your product next time you order fresh inventory. Could the packaging be better? Should you make the ‘on’ button bigger? And don’t forget, if you do this, to make sure customers know that the product has been redesigned and improved.

Finally, whenever you’re answering customer questions, just think: “If I saw this answer, would I be more or less likely to buy the product?” If the answer isn’t “more likely to buy,” then you haven’t done it right!

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