Improving your Feedback score as a Seller

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Starting Out Selling

When starting out selling, it is good to bask in having a 100% feedback rating.
Sooner or later though, as a seller you will probably receive negative feedback. This may be your fault or it may not be - but often you will be stuck with the negative.
Some buyers are trigger-happy with negatives (look at the feedback they have left for others), and these buyers tend not to be great communicators either.

This guide does not consider DSR ratings - a semi-separate subject. Only the number of negatives and the percentage of negative feedbacks.
Feedbacks can be easily pinpointed to individual customers and orders, unlike DSR scores.

Factors that increase the likelihood of negatives

Particular factors may provoke negative feedback, so causing your percentage to descend, sometimes through no fault of your own.
Such as :
  • a spate of bad weather causing delivery delays;
  • putting your shop on holiday but letting your buyers continue to buy - this can backfire badly;
  • a faulty product batch, if you do not check your products before shipping;
  • I don't know why, but most of the negative feedback I have received is for the very cheapest 99p items - not a reason not to sell them, but interesting.
  • sometimes other sellers have better customer service, making your customer service look bad - even if you don't think it is.
  • some types of items bring more negatives than others. Analyse your feedback - if a particular item is causing a problem, perhaps time to change or drop it.

The Vicious Circle

Even with no increase in the number of negatives, the percentage can still drop, for example if your sales slow down.
Beware the following :
  • if your percentage dips too much, your prominence in search results will drop, causing a slowdown in sales, and making your percentage even worse. A vicious circle.
  • if you sell steadily, and then stop selling for a while, any existing negatives will make the percentage worse.
  • if you start to source off Ebay, the quantity of feedback you receive as a buyer (always 100% positive remember) will drop. This can reduce your percentage, increasing the effect of any negatives.

What You Can Do

Reduce the number of existing negatives

  • If you consider a recent problem not to be your fault, you can ask your buyer - very politely - if there is anything you can do to help, and/or whether they would be willing to revise their feedback score. Strictly follow Ebay guidelines on this and be very polite. I have tried this and one or two negative feedbacks have been revised, however it can also be humiliating, time-wasting and frustrating and can get you precisely nowhere. Remember only recent feedback can be changed.

Reduce the number of future negatives

  • Make your customer service much better to leave less chance for a buyer to leave a negative. Specify an unconditional return policy on your listings. Send a polite notice in the package mentioning the return policy too, and asking for any issues to be communicated via Ebay messages. When you receive a complaint or query, deal with it politely and professionally ALWAYS - even if you have to make a loss on one order. This is your chance to avoid a negative - take it!

Drown out the negatives with positives

You may not be able to get rid of negatives, but you can reduce their effect by having more positives.
  • Buy lots of things such as stationery from Ebay sellers. These can boost your positive feedback and hopefully reduce the impact of negatives. Make sure you leave feedback for these purchases - often sellers wait to receive your feedback before submitting theirs.
  • Increase your sales rate and make sure from now on your customer service is the best it can be. Hopefully the new sales regime will bring few negatives, lots of positives, and the whole exercise will improve your overall feedback score. This has worked for me but cannot be guaranteed of course. You can for example : drop some pricing strategically, start a new fast-moving item, revise or rewrite your listings so they draw in more views and sales, or increase your range of products. Try making your listings appeal to another type of buyer. Sell wholesale as well as to individuals.
  • Positive feedbacks rely on buyers leaving feedback. Many buyers do not leave feedback; it might be worth contacting those buyers to politely request feedback. I don't recommend doing this often as it might upset buyers - but as a one-off exercise it could be useful. Again be very polite. Bear in mind that you could also receive negatives using this method so tread carefully.

More serious actions

If it is more serious and you wish to clear out a batch of negatives completely :
  • Wait until the negatives are more than 12 months old, so they drop out of the percentage calculation. This could mean stopping sales for a while.
  • Maybe set up a second Ebay ID - permitted by Ebay rules - and start selling on that ID instead. It is a good idea to start this before you need it, getting a positive feedback base and some time behind the ID so you are not restricted when you may start to use the ID in earnest for sales.

I hope this is useful food for thought. Many sellers do a great job and still suffer from problems from time to time. The above hints I hope will help.

I have written other Guides, if you are interested in reading them you can see a list of all my Guides here

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