Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Power of Positive (Feedback, that is)

I was talking to a friend the other day about the reasons to leave positive feedback when you shop online, and I thought I'd take some time to talk about it here as well. Why is feedback important, and how can you make your feedback more helpful to online businesses?

Nowadays a lot of our shopping is done online, so it's convenient, but it can also tend to be faceless and impersonal. Small businesses and shops spring up every day on eBay and Etsy (to name just two major places people shop). Many are excellent, but depend on word of mouth for customers. You can have a hand in helping a business succeed and improve with your feedback!

Helpful feedback lets the shop owner know what they're doing right. Did the item ship quickly, arrive well packaged and in the condition described? Was the person you communicated with friendly and open to answering questions?  You can leave positive feedback for any one of these reasons if the service was good. If you feel like writing a quick note about the good service you received, even better! Believe it or not, the simplest reason to leave feedback (even if the customer service was average with the norm) is that it lets the shop owner know you received the item. Unless the person who ships your item asks for delivery confirmation, sometimes they have no way of knowing if you got your package (besides e-mailing you). Even if you never write a note in the feedback section, that's okay- clicking the "positive" button is still helpful to the shop.

Constructive feedback is the kind that shop owners like the most because it helps them know which direction to go in. If you liked something specific about the product you bought, great! Let the shop owner know! If you didn't really like it, but you're happy with the customer service, it's still valuable to let them know. Some people might not feel comfortable telling someone "I didn't really like...", and it's definitely a hard phrase to hear when you've worked hard on something. Both take a bit of practice. If you feel able, leave the positive feedback about their good customer service, quick shipping, etc- then also send an e-mail or note explaining what you feel the product needed. It takes a little thought, a bit of time, and a lot of tact- but a crafter/seller who wants to be the best at what they do will appreciate hearing what their customers want!

Leaving positive feedback, even if you don't leave any note, is still helpful for one very important (but often overlooked) reason: It protects the shop from trolling or abuse in the future. Yes, you can definitely provide some excellent insight for the shop owner with your feedback, but the whole purpose of feedback is to let others know how the shop measures up, right? Don't get me wrong- if you have had an awful experience with a shop and can't resolve the matter with the owner, leaving negative feedback is absolutely your right (I've done it as a last resort, and believe it or not, still got a snippy, sarcastic response from the shop owner. Wow!). But everyone has seen some poor unsuspecting shop owner get blasted by someone for something that clearly wasn't their fault, or that they are obviously trying (complete with groveling) to make right. Wouldn't it be great if every single person before that who'd had a good experience with that shop had let people know? It would make the troller's comments suspect, at the very least.

A business can only grow if it has a record of trust with the people it serves. With the "feedback" page that so many sites offer, everyone who shops can have a hand in helping the good reputation of a business. Please don't neglect to leave positive feedback when you shop online!

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