How Sellers Can Earn 5-Star Ratings on Reverb

Whether your Reverb shop is an extension of your brick-and-mortar store with hundreds of listings or just a place where you listed your beat-up Line 6 DL4 to help with the car payment, buyers are going to expect the same great service regardless of who’s behind the shop.

Just as word-of-mouth reputation is important for a brick-and-mortar shop, online reputation within the Reverb community can be the difference between making a sale and not. In a marketplace where multiple sellers are offering the same product—sometimes even at the same price—buyers often use shop ratings as the deciding factor when choosing who to order from.

But online interactions can be prone to misunderstandings, quickly escalating conflicts, and at the other end of the spectrum, an impersonal lack of warmth. The Reverb Support team has seen thousands of seller transactions play out, witnessing from behind-the-scenes where communication breakdowns sometimes occur. They’ve also seen how strong sellers prevent those breakdowns and address them if things go south.

Here are their tips for ending every transaction with a happy buyer, even if things initially don’t go as planned.

Keep all communication on Reverb.

"People may not remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

While this oft-quoted piece of advice is critical for sellers to keep in mind when dealing with buyers, it also highlights a key problem that arises when transactions don’t go as planned: People are bad at remembering exactly what happened.

If you jump on the phone with a buyer or reach out via personal email, Reverb has no running record of who said or did what. If a buyer and seller can’t resolve an issue on their own, Reverb Support can’t work toward a solution if the conversations happened offsite.

On that note, if you sense a dispute arising, reach out to Reverb Support sooner rather than later. Let the buyer know, in a non-threatening way, that you gave a heads-up about the situation. You can still work toward a solution with the buyer on your own, but that way the team will be aware of the issue and ready to intervene if necessary.

Communication includes photos and screenshots from UPS/USPS/FedEx. If a buyer is saying an item is damaged or arrived in some other unsatisfactory state, kindly ask them to provide photo/video evidence of the issue so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Let them know it’s about you understanding the problem better, not that you don’t believe them.

When all communication is kept on Reverb and the support team is aware of a developing issue, they can monitor it in real-time and resolve things faster. When they don’t find out about an issue until it has festered for weeks, it takes much longer for them to get a handle on the details and begin to help.

And if the communication didn’t happen on Reverb, there’s not much they can do at all. Consider your message chain a type of insurance.

Respond right away.

Even if you only have time to shoot off a one-sentence reply letting the buyer know that you’ll get back to them shortly, showing up on the other end of the message chain goes a long way. Whether it’s a simple question about the nut width of the guitar you listed or a heads-up about a missing or damaged item, radio silence can be toxic.

Our support team has seen that if a question is left unanswered for more than 48 hours, the majority of potential buyers assume no one’s home and look elsewhere. When an issue arises with an item already shipped, a slow seller response can lead buyers to think the seller is ignoring the issue, panic, and unnecessarily escalate the issue.

Mistakes happen. Things can also go wrong that are outside of either party’s control. The first signal buyers get that you as the seller are a partner in helping them solve the problem is how quickly you respond.

While you’ll still get an email anytime someone messages you on Reverb, the best way to stay on top of your shop’s communication is to download the app on your phone and allow it to send you notifications.

Remain relentlessly positive...and human.

Digital communication already removes the context of body language and the tone of your voice. Curt, perfunctory replies feel impersonal at best and, at worst, can be misconstrued as rude. One way to combat this is to let your buyers know there is a human being on the other end who wants them to be happy, even (and especially) if they are being difficult.

You have to get this across in writing, which involves using a dash of sugar in your language that you might not use in person.

Some useful phrases for the taking:

  • "Thanks for reaching out!"
  • "We really appreciate your interest/patience/choosing our shop."
  • "Let us know if you have any other questions/if we can help with anything else."
  • "Enjoy the guitar/pedal/amp/uke/kazoo!"

It also helps to use the buyer’s name. And if the person included any context on what they’re using the gear for, use that in your reply.

"Hey Dan - Glad to hear you’re taking the plunge and building your own guitar. Hope these pickups make you smile once you get them into your new build!"

Staying personable and positive matters even more when the buyer is frustrated with shipping damage or an aspect of the item they feel doesn’t meet their expectations. A good place to start is simply letting them know you hear them and are ready to work with them to fix the problem.

"I’m sorry that the _____ isn’t what you expected. What do you feel needs to happen to make this right?"
"I’m sorry to hear the _____ took a hit in shipping. Can you shoot me a few photos of the damage so I can better understand what happened and start working on a solution?"

If a buyer replies with unproductive venting or tries to drag you into a petty argument, don’t engage. Let them know you hear them and affirm what next step you’re taking. Staying solutions-oriented in the face of an upset or difficult customer is tough, but the vast majority of people will respect your professionalism when things calm down and they reflect on it with a cooler head.

"I understand you’re frustrated. I want to work with you to fix the situation. My next step is to _______."
"I know this isn’t what either of us wanted. Thanks for your patience and understanding on this."

But if a buyer threatens you or uses derogatory language, contact Reverb Support and kindly remind them that you are doing your best to resolve the situation. Everyone loses their cool from time to time, but Reverb Support won’t tolerate anyone getting abused or threatened on our platform.

Impress the buyer.

It’s all too easy to simply go through the motions: receive payment, pack item, ship item, confirm receipt. Your relationship with the buyer becomes merely transactional. They can have transactional relationships with any shop. What would it take for them to be loyal, repeat customers who sing your praises?

Since they’re not standing in your shop, the buyer’s impression of you as a seller is going to come from how quickly an item ships, how well it is packed, your communication on Reverb, and any gestures that go above and beyond the expected transaction. Those last two things present an opportunity to create lasting advocates that will tell their friends about your shop.

We’ve seen sellers include personal notes, goofy polaroids, art, albums, discount cards, straps, picks, tuners, packs of strings, and more. It doesn’t take much to make the buyer feel warm and fuzzy when they discover a little something extra in the box.

But you don’t always need to include extra accessories or a personal note to impress a buyer. Sometimes it’s just how much you show you care about them in your communication. Or how you handled a problem.

Unhappy buyers are actually the best candidates to become staunch supporters of your shop. When problems arise, the buyer will see just how far you are willing to go to make sure they walk away satisfied. If you approach those situations as opportunities and do whatever it takes to do right by the customer, you’ll create lifelong advocates for your shop.

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