Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OMG! A Negative Feedback!!

Positive.  Neutral.  Negative.  Feedback.  Those are our choices on Etsy.

But Etsy feedback is kind of weird.  The feedback a seller leaves for a buyer is invisible to the public so you can't see what feedback has been left for them.  But you do see if they have a negative as a buyer.  You just don't know for what and why.

Seller's feedback on the other hand is right there in all its glory for the whole world to read. So as sellers, we sure do care what that feedback says about us, our product and our customer care.

You can only leave one feedback.  You cannot leave any additional feedback, to explain a questionable feedback left about you as a seller. Are you confused yet?  I'm not surprised.  If you get a negative, the only recourse you have is to ask the other party to 'kiss and makeup'.

You read that right.  I did not make that up.  If someone leaves you a feedback you feel is unfair, you can ask that person to 'kiss and makeup' so you can have it amended to more positive comments.  The only people I want to kiss and make up with are my family.  And even then...nevermind...  

Many sellers feel a neutral is as bad as a negative.  I think it depends on if there is an explanation or not.
Most customers aren't into the whole feedback thing as much as we are and don't think neutral is negative.

Then there are those on Etsy who feel that a negative feedback is equivalent to the kiss of death.  And while I would not be happy with one, I don't think it means the end of your Etsy career or that you have to sell one of your children, even though that might be a viable solution for some.  I have made many purchases from sellers who had a negative.  Even when they had more than one.  I look at the ratio of positives to the negatives.  The higher volume of sales, the more the odds go up of running into a negative from time to time.  And I carefully read any negatives.  I can tell if someone is too hard to please, has an axe to grind or is just never going to be happy with anything.  So if you really want that item, but the seller has some negatives, read what they are and decide if it's a risk or not.

But then there are, in my opinion, the worst kind of feedbacks.  No information at all, just the little plus, minus or circle symbols.  If you really want to hurt a seller, leave them a negative or a neutral without explaining.  Slightly better, but still not great in my opinion, a positive with just enough information to make you curious but not really tell you anything.

For example:  "This is soooooooo cute!" and then a string of little characters denoting all kinds of emotions, none of which I really know the meaning.  Feedback like this and blank ones are totally useless to me.  Although if it's positive, that's more encouraging.

I want to know about the qualilty of workmanship.  Was the item accurately represented in the listing and photographs.  How well was it packaged and how long did it take to receive.  Was the seller helpful in answering any questions?  Things like that are what will help me decide on whether to purchase or not.    And that is the kind of feedback I want my customers to leave about me so other prospective customers know what to expect.  

So what should you do when you get that dreaded negative?  I feel that as the seller, accepting people's money for our products, it is our responsibility to bend over backwards and go the extra mile to ensure we end up with a happy customer.  I know there are times where this may be impossible, but if you don't give it everything you've got, you have failed that customer.

Giving it everything you've got does not mean you sell the farm to appease a grumpy malcontent who spent $5 and is now griping that you overcharged shipping by 30 cents.  Of course, there are times where the customer is absolutely wrong and nothing you do to appease them works.  That's when you cut your losses and move on.  Most of the time, however, if you react politely, calmly and show a real willingness to work to fix the situation, you will convert an unhappy customer to a happy one.  That is worth their weight in gold.

But please don't ever run to your blog and publicly rant about a customer by name, trashing them and insulting the town they live in because you're upset they left you a negative without contacting you first and copy/pasting their messages onto your blog, posting it to your facebook and tweeting it repeatedly, even two months after the fact.  That happened once. Really!   I saw it very recently.  Nevermind the unbelievable unprofessionalism of this type of behavior.  It downright smacks of vindictiveness.

One of my purchases, this past winter was less than positive.  The item arrived and was not sized properly at all and the craftsmanship was poor to mediocre.  Then I read their policies that they do not accept returns.  My bad for not reading this before making my purchase.  Anyway, I decided I had to leave a negative and explained why.  This seller later contacted me and offered me 15% back on my purchase if I would change my feedback to a positive.   Well, I said no thanks to their bribe.  Even if I got 15% back, I couldn't wear the article without altering it myself and it didn't change the fact that the quality of workmanship was not good. 

We are in business catering to the public.   We have a system where they can and do leave us feedback.  Most of the time it will be good.  But when that one time pops up where there is a problem, even if you're right as rain, smile, do everything you can within reason to remedy the issue and remember that you are the one in the public realm offering a product you want people to spend money on.  If you consistently offer superior customer care, it will be reflected in your feedback and your reputation will build on that and customers will have faith in you and your product.

Just don't sweat the little bumps that come along.  And for goodness sake, don't turn the little bumps into rocky mountains by lashing out at the customer.  Take the high road.  It will pay off and you will be happy you did later on down that road.

So come back to our discussion forum and let's discuss http://www.etsy.com/teams/12389/etsyhandmade/discuss/10976432/

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