Solicit – or not to solicit?
Feedback, that is. That is the question for many Amazon sellers.
On the one hand, there’s no doubt that positive feedback impacts sales volume. Therefore, getting more feedback is usually in the Amazon seller’s best interest. On the other hand, soliciting requires monumental effort if done manually. Also, some merchants believe that soliciting could get them into trouble with the customer, Amazon or both.
Let’s look at each side of the argument.
Why Sellers Don’t Solicit Feedback
Let’s start with the negative side of the argument. Since we invented automatic feedback management for Amazon sellers back in 2009, we’ve heard many sellers espouse the “don’t solicit” philosophy. It usually goes something like this:
“Amazon customers don’t want to be bothered with feedback solicitation emails. They’re buying on Amazon for a reason, and they find feedback requests to be downright annoying. After all, only a small percentage of buyers leave feedback, so asking isn’t going to make much of a difference – given the effort involved to do so. In fact, asking might even stir up negative feedback.”
There is one part of this argument that we can all agree with. Manually soliciting feedback does take a lot of time and effort, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of orders each month. Logging in to your Seller Central account, clicking on each individual order, crafting personalized messages and tracking results does require an unrivaled amount of fortitude.
But what about the other parts of this argument? Do Amazon customers actually get annoyed with feedback solicitations? And even if they don’t, will asking make any impact on your feedback score?
To answer these questions, put yourself in the shoes of an average customer. I’m sure you’ve purchased many things on Amazon.com before. Sellers have probably even asked you to rate a transaction or two. Did receiving a feedback solicitation actually annoy you? Did it make you more likely to provide negative feedback? Of course not. At worst, you probably just ignored the email and moved on with your life. (Even if you were unsatisfied, your first inclination would not be to leave negative feedback; rather, you’d probably send the seller a private email to express your frustration.)
Some sellers also (mistakenly) believe that soliciting is going to somehow get them in trouble with Amazon.com, Inc. On the contrary, Amazon explicitly permits solicitation by saying, “You may request feedback from a buyer. However, you may not offer pay nor any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback.” Therefore, as long as you seek to ensure customer satisfaction as your top priority, play by Amazon’s solicitation rules, honor customers’ requests to opt out and avoid spammy email techniques, solicitation is a perfectly legitimate activity.
Why Sellers Solicit Feedback
For every seller who does not solicit, there are usually a few others that choose to solicit. As we’ve alluded to, the potential benefits for doing so are quite obvious:
- Ensuring customers are highly satisfied
- Increasing the likelihood of (positive) feedback
- Preventing negative feedback before it occurs (by proactively opening a line of communication)
- Collecting suggestions to improve as a seller
- Capturing a larger share of the Buy Box (thanks to an improved feedback rating)
Of course, all of these are still dependent upon overcoming the arduous process associated with manual solicitation. Luckily, in recent years, technology has come along that eliminates the need to manually solicit. (At eComEngine, we’re proud to have helped sellers solicit more than 45 million positive feedbacks through our FeedbackFive tool.) By leveraging an automated feedback management tool, sellers get the best of both worlds: the benefits of solicitation without all the work.
Rather than manually sending emails one by one, sellers can build campaign templates that pull in customer-specific information (such as first name, order number, product name and feedback links). As orders are queued up for solicitation, customer information is merged automatically. This offers a highly customized experience for each buyer – without all the work for the seller.
Which is Right for You?
Obviously, there’s no perfect answer to the question. Solicitation, although effective at generating more feedback, does require an investment of time and/or money (although software is making the process increasingly affordable). Closely evaluate your business objectives, compare your options and make an informed decision.
About the Author
Liz Fickenscher is the business development lead at eComEngine.com. She keeps her finger on the pulse of eCommerce, communicating with Amazon Sellers and learning about their pain points and needs. Liz focuses on providing valuable information to sellers through blog posts and informational webinars, and she is the affiliate ambassador, engaging with customers and strategic partners to bring the best information to the industry.