Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Start Jaws Theme Music: Dealing With the Customer That's Given Bad Reviews

Drawing a Crowd
Everyday Etsy shop owners enter a battlefield of fierce competition for customer attention. When you get that little e-mail showing a transaction, even seasoned Etsy shop owners do a little dance. New Etsy shop owners actually get up and dance. Attention is given shops for many reasons- maybe you specialize in a certain area of design, your photos are pretty, or you just happened to relist at the right time. Shop owners may have drawn in a customer becuase they are a social media czar with a blog, Facebook followers too numerous to count, a twitter feed, and a crazy newsletter scheme that draws customers in by the pack. However they got there, they are all generally going to research you a bit before feeling safe purchasing from your shop. I think my profile page is the number one clicked on page in my analytics feed. Why is that? Surely it's not for my awkward prose on what my day is like- it's to make a connection. Customers for Etsy aren't the same customers nosing around on E-Bay or Amazon for the same product. Maybe they are more discerning, they appreciate the quirkiness of homemade, or they like supporting micro-businesses. It's my opinion that they like dealing with real people. We've lost so much of that corner business get-to-know-ya kind of small town talk with our point and click purchasing abilities. Etsy allows the customer to be drawn in right to the source of the creative dance.

You Are What You're Rated
No matter how they were drawn in or how pretty your pictures are, you are what you are rated. Those lovely customers that did more that provide hearts but generated that trickle of income have more responsibility for bringing in the next customer and the next after that with a click of the mouse on that feedback rating. I do my absolute best on every order. Not everything runs perfectly all of the time but I keep my customers in the loop and if I get delayed or a part goes wackadoo and I need to start over- I let them know and I usually upgrade or throw in a freebie when I ship it out- it's all about creating goodwill. Still- I hear that Jaw theme music start and the lights seem to dim the instant a customer that has a history of giving bad reviews purchases something from my shop. It's like death sniffing around your front door.  Maybe they are extremely picky- maybe they just aren't happy with anything- maybe..... bridezilla found you and no matter what you do- it's not going to be right. (Cue murderous screaming sounds.)

The Daydream

I can imagine downtown Mayberry with all of the little virtual Etsy storefronts with little glittery colorful banners and signs with streets of jewelry and bridal shops alongside avenues that look more like the Renaissance festival and others that hold strange and wonderful creations... some more strange than wonderful. As customers are happily strolling along you notice a big black cloud over the incoming... villainous... notorious... Bad Rater Hater. All of a sudden the shop windows shut and shutters flop closed and the Etsy shop owners huddle in fear in the back hoping that Bad Rater Hater doesn't see that they are open at all. Then.... they find you... And they give you money... And they ask you for your product.

Incoming Storm- A Bad Rater

The Bad Rating Pimple
Even with 100 sales, one bad rating is the same as a plague on your shop. Anything less than "100% Positive Feedback" is going to trigger a rash of clicking to find out what the bad rating was and why. It doesn't matter how hard you worked to resolve it or if it's even true. It doesn't matter how long ago it was and it only slightly matters how may good ratings you have- if you find yourself dealing with the Bad Rater Hater, you can't duck for cover and refuse the sale. All you can do is hold your chin high (even while trembling), send your normal best, and then cross your fingers that whatever the itch was- you scratched it- and they move on down the road.

Send me your experiences- bad or good- and I'll anonymously post them. Rant away!

This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.