We all know that Internet communications tend to remove a certain level of politeness usually present in most in-person conversations. Part of the problem is the text medium itself, which fails to convey a person’s tone, but part of it is also the sense of anonymity and distance that might encourage people to be more blunt online than in person.
This is doubly the case when money enters the equation. Most auctioneers who have conducted an online auction can testify that sometimes frustrated bidders get a bit heated if things don’t go the way they expect them to. Sometimes their complaints are legitimate, and sometimes they come from a lack of mastery of whatever bid platform you might be using.
Whatever the case, it’s always best to be prepared to handle bitter bidders diplomatically. By following our tips below, you can meet issues head on and make things easier for both you, and your bidders!
1.) Know your bidders.
It almost goes without saying that it’s easier to do business with people you’re familiar with. Try to convince the regular faces at your live auctions to join your online site. People are more inclined to try and be cooperative if they’re dealing with someone they personally know, so the more familiar names you have around the better.
If you have online bidders you don’t know, try to reach out! Prompt and helpful communication will build a courteous relationship, so always try to lay a good foundation early. Even if you can’t meet face to face with all of your bidders, at least make them feel like they know you. Make sure all of your bidders are on your mailing list, and don’t hesitate to send the occasional friendly check-in or update that doesn’t strictly involve business.
It might also be a good idea to vet new bidders. Many auctioneers set pre-authorization amounts that their bidders must have on balance in order to participate in their auctions, in order to assure that they are serious about what they’re bidding on. Your payment processor should have a function that allows you to do this. It also can’t hurt to get involved in online auctioneer communities, where you and your peers can share knowledge and even databases of bidders with histories of being uncooperative.
2.) Understand basic bidder scenarios.
The vast majority of complaints or help requests that come in from online bidders involve situations that have a pretty simple solution. Not all bidders are going to be used to whatever platform you use. What may seem obvious to you or an experienced user may not be remotely intuitive to a newer bidder. So take a deep breath, and recognize that you can easily handle the majority of problems that might pop up in your online auctions by simply familiarizing yourself with the most common issues, and the easiest steps to remedy them.
People are going to need help with things like resetting their password, or understanding the behavior of things like maxbids, bid increments, and starting values. If you know how to troubleshoot or explain these and other frequent problem areas, you can probably easily answer 90% of the issues that your upset bidders might be experiencing.
3.) Stay candid.
As in many avenues of life, honesty and openness are often the best policies. Transparency will win people to your side, so it’s a great backup that will keep you in people’s good graces, even if you drop the ball on something else. Being honest about what’s going on will probably make even the grouchiest of online bidders more empathetic to your situation, and will hopefully smooth over any rough patches. Make people understand that you’re on the same side. Their success is your success, so you definitely want to do everything you can to help them out.
There are going to be problems that arise during your time conducting online auctions. This fact is unavoidable. The Internet is still growing and changing constantly, and as such, technical problems can be expected. Various operating systems and devices will behave and display things differently, new versions of software are always being released…the list goes on and on. There’s a whole gamut of issues that could arise for people. Don’t be afraid to tell someone “I don’t know,” for the time being. Assure them you will get them the help they need, but if it’s beyond your immediate capabilities, don’t pretend it isn’t. This will set a realistic and honest standard going forward.
4.) Remember YOU are the expert.
Sometimes it can be easy to forget, especially if you’re out of your normal element in the world of online auctions – but you are still going to be the resident expert! Although the trappings may be quite different than the traditional live auction, many of the principles are still the same. Give yourself some credit – even though it may be easy to feel overwhelmed at times, rest assured that you are going to be the foremost authority involved with all of your online auctions. Don’t become a victim of imposter syndrome. You know more than you might realize. Watch your platform’s training videos and familiarize yourself with their support portal to ensure that you are prepared to face most issues that might arise.
Most bidders aren’t going to know the whole process of what goes into online auctions, but that won’t stop some of them from pretending they do. Be confident in your own expertise and don’t be afraid to take an authoritative stance when need be!