Many eCommerce website owners are very well-acquainted with the scenario where things are going fine and dandy: sales are great, customers are thrilled with your products, the reviews are impeccable. And then, bam! Only one mistake brings it all to a halt and turns your online marketplace empire to ashes.
The eCommerce world is full of these fatal mistakes that can ruin a business for good. Unfortunately, managers are often unaware of the possibility of these mistakes until they actually happen.
However, the only operational mode that can ensure your business survives even after critical mistakes happen is quick problem reaction. In this post, we’re looking at some of the most common big mistakes of online marketplace businesses and how you can prevent them with quick reactions.
Negative PR – Good News Travels Fast, Bad News Travel Faster
Public relations experts used to say that “any press is good press”, but this has wildly change in the environments of online marketplaces. After you have built up your reputation, negative PR will barely get you anything positive other than name recognition. Therefore, bad press can cause the ultimate downfall of your online marketplace.
This is where quick problem reactions come in. In response to negative PR, marketers and PR experts have to respond as quickly as possible. The earlier you enter the discussion, the more you will be able to shape the narrative.
Let’s take a look at an example from an eCommerce titan. In 2015, Amazon was faced with an expose investigative journalism piece in the New York Times about the unhealthy working culture within the company. Like most other NYT articles, it made a noise far and wide – and brought up questions about whether working for Amazon is really the dream the company says it is.
How did Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, decided to respond to this issue? Instead of pretending to be blind to the article, he shared it among all employees and encouraged them to read it. He also gave his own email address where employees could submit complaints regarding the issues outlined in the article.
Bad Reviews – Classy Handling of Criticism
Negative reviews, be it on individual products, collections, brands or the entire online marketplace, are known to be one of the most prominent eCommerce killers.
If you look at negative reviews directed to big brands, you will see that there’s a whole variety of different reactions these companies exhibit. Some respond to them very quickly with a generic “We’re sorry”, other promise they will get to the bottom of the issue, while some ignore the reviews altogether.
All of these responses are, in their way, sending a message and portraying a reaction to a problem. Remember, even ignoring a comment is a reaction to it – when people see you’ve been active with other comments and doing other things on the page, they will know you ignored the comment or review deliberately.
The way you will react to bad reviews and comments is something that should be in alignment with your company policy, and there’s no magic formula for resolving negative comments, as every customer is different. However, you should make sure that, whichever reaction method you choose, you will always react in the same way to any review, comment and customer.
This approach will show your customers that you have a systemic and objective strategy for dealing with bad reviews and that you are not afraid of addressing them.
Technical Issues – Rise Against the Machines
The title of the 2014 hacker film hit says it the best: no system is safe. In other words, no online marketplace is immune to technical issues, attacks, hacks and all other kinds of problems that may arise when you work on the Internet.
“Customers hate seeing technical issues of any kind on an online marketplace. For them, it instantly signals technical incompetence and raises the question: if you can’t take care of your technical problems, how can I trust you to handle my data and funds securely? It can be very tricky, and reactions should be careful and strategic”, says Charlie Bollow, IT administrator at Subjecto.
If an online marketplace shows they’re going through a technical issue that’s outside of their control, it can be detrimental to their business. It’s just like with banks and fintech providers (who lose customers in massive numbers after suspicious technical issues): you handle customers’ money, so there’s much less room for error than in some other businesses.
In cooperation with your IT department, you should make sure that there are prevention mechanisms in place to reduce the chances of these problems ever arising.
Customer Service Issues – Humans Fixing Human Errors
Many brands and online marketplaces have suffered terrible customer support incidents. And while it alone might not be the cause for the destruction of your online brand, it can definitely hurt your brand’s reputation.
A famous customer service fail from 2018 that perfectly illustrates this is the McDonald’s incident in Florida. The customer waiting at the drive-through line received not only a portion of fast food, but a dish of gossip – as the Mickey D’s employee engaged in an embarrassing rant while her headset was live.
Airlines are also notorious for their bad customer service: from American Airlines’ cello incident where they kicked off a passenger who took a cello to a plane (with its ticket paid for) to Southwest kicking off a father and a toddler.
One of the best ways that you can prevent customer support issues is to develop a clear and precise documentation that outlines what happens in any given problematic scenario. Brands and companies usually take care of this by crafting an FAQ section.
When you have publicly available documentation in the form of a Help Center or a FAQ section, you will have multiple benefits. In terms of problem-solving, the presence of a help center will decrease your rates of human error in your customer support team.
Additionally, it will reduce the number of tickets (if the texts are high-quality and enable users to actually find the solution themselves) and decrease the burden on your customer service staff.
Redesign and Re-vamping Flops – Embracing Change
This is a common scenario in the online marketplace industry: things are going great, managers decide to upgrade and optimize some things on the site, change a few things, launch it and boom – the business is losing customers by the second.
It happened to many online marketplaces and websites all around the world – after all, the human psyche prefers things staying the same and dreads changes, even if they are positive. Remember any Facebook redesign and the way the public reacted to it.
So, what happens when you do through a redesign of our page and your customers hate it (and they most likely will)? Do you switch back and tackle the problem just by apologizing and pretending nothing ever happened?
Absolutely not. However, the recommended approach for these issues is to introduce tiny changes over a longer span of time that will remain basically unnoticed by customers. If you do decide to go through with a major re-vamp of your old website, don’t engage in negative and mean comments on social media and across the web. Any reaction to comments regarding the website’s redesign might appear as if you’re not sure about your actions and decisions.
In online marketplaces, basically anything can happen. If you are an owner of an eCommerce brand, online store or an Internet marketplace, it’s impossible to be fully prepared for any negative scenario that might emerge. However, what you can do is make sure you react to problems quickly and correctly.
Also, it’s very beneficial to prepare yourself for some of the common mistakes online marketplace businesses make. In this article, we’ve outlined the most important ones: customer support problems, negative PR and reviews, technical and design issues. Like in most other areas of digital business, it all boils down to communication: you should aim to solve your problems rapidly and effectively and then find a way to communicate this to your customers.
Nicole D.Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor at Studyker, WriteScout and Subjecto and a number of platforms for marketing specialists. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. At her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and a curious beekeeper. Moreover, she runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine.