Thursday, August 29, 2013

Changes to Etsy Feedback or sellers are seeing stars

I have never been a fan of feedback.

(mostly because it scares the hell out of me)

Like thousands/millions of other people who sell on Etsy - I make stuff. I take pictures of it. I sell it. I ship it. Most of the time I do this really, really well. And sometimes I screw up.

There are a whole lot of "I's" in this process so this whole thing has always felt way too personal to me to be healthy - like I am walking through life naked and hoping someone will offer me an umbrella or some sunblock or a nice hand knit sweater and at the very least not throw darts or rotten tomatoes at me.

A connected economy is a feedback economy. Our businesses rise (or fall) by the connections we make. With a gazillion bits of information clamoring for our potential customer's attention word of mouth marketing is the only thing that works.

I get it.


It still scares the hell out of me.

Before two days ago I hadn't looked at my Etsy feedback in over a year because I like to sleep at night and because I am afraid of darts and rotten tomatoes and because my big girl pants have been at the cleaners ... yes, for a year - my cleaners are very slow. I don't give them bad feedback about this either.

Etsy changed from a kind of pass/fail system to a 5 star system.

A few other things changed, too.

1. Buyers don't get feedback anymore which sounds like a good idea because why does a buyer need feedback. When I leave the grocery store there isn't some guy standing there with a pad and paper rating my performance as a customer. Sellers have used this buyer feedback thing as a way to thank buyers, but sellers have likely thanked them two or three times by this point so it's not really needed for that..

There are sellers on Etsy who make time consuming and sometimes expensive custom items for buyers and kind of like to see who they are dealing with before they get started. They would like to know if the buyer has a history of being unhappy with things they have ordered, so maybe they can avoid the pitfalls of dealing with someone who might be unhappy with them, too.

I get this. It's the same reason I hadn't checked my feedback in a year.

It isn't the way life works though.

Life supports us putting in the energy first - great jobs require unpaid internships, great skills require 10,000 hours of practice, great rewards require sweat. Sellers of time consuming custom work will have to figure out a way to make this work for them.

Maybe someone could offer a place they could privately list problem situations, I don't know. I think few problem situations were ever avoided with buyer feedback though.

2. The stars have little labels that because Etsy is the place for hip, read things like "not a fan" and offer suggestions to customers of what they should write about (customers are required to write at least 5 words now) - suggestions like "what did you like about it?", "what did you dislike?"


(maybe a little disrespectful for handmade Etsy? whatcha think? some of us are still making the things we sell on Etsy with our own two hands and the handmade experience is an imperfect experience, which is the wabi sabi beauty of it - we aren't all resellers Etsy)

3. Sellers overall rankings (1-5 stars) are calculated from the last 12 months of feedback received but listed next to the total of all feedback ever received and so are a little misleading. Maybe a lot misleading.

This seller who posted in the forums yesterday should have a 4.75 overall star rating, but because she has only had 1 buyer in the last 12 months who left feedback (most buyers don't leave any) and that buyer was not happy, she has a 1 star rating which is going to be very slow to improve.

My gut tells me that Etsy will revise this 12 month thing, and if they don't, I think we should all contact this seller and ask her to sell us something cheap which we will all rave about until we pull her rating up to the 4.75 she deserves. I am serious.

4. Buyers can revise their feedback for up to 60 days. They used to have much longer to leave feedback and this replaces kiss and make-up which drove sellers crazy.  It has some potential pitfalls because buyers could revise their star ranking down if something breaks, shrinks or falls apart. I think most likely these buyers would go back to the seller and talk to them before revising their feedback. It's still a little nerve-wracking

There are other changes, but my brain hurts from thinking about them

We'll have to see how this all pans out, maybe some things will be revised over the next couple weeks.

The one good thing that came out of this for me is that with buyer feedback disappearing some purchase feedback I had missed leaving popped into view for me to give out.

I noticed when I left feedback something called Shop Note showed up under my comment area - it looked like the Message to Buyers info, but I couldn't be certain.

We need to figure where this Shop Note gets entered. Before my buyers leave feedback I want them to see something like this:

I love stars. Falling stars and shooting stars and movie stars - since Miss Rehak's first grade class when I went home every day with little gold stars stuck to my forehead (well, maybe not EVERY day) - I just LOVE them. You have been a 5 star customer and I hope I have given you a 5 star experience. Thank you for buying handmade and recycled!

or maybe something like this:

HOLD ON there buddy. If you were about to give me any rating other than the 5 STAR rating we both know I deserve let me just tell you this - I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. I've seen your Facebook profile and I know where you work. I know you are a little too fond of (I'll pop some custom info related to their purchase in here) OCTOPUSES. Let's just leave it at that.


Hopemore Studio said...

So can I tell you as a very small shop and seller on Etsy, I rarely find that the changes on their website have any personal repercussions. This change however is different, either because it really does bother me or I am bothered by how much everyone is bothered...not sure.

KJ said...

I predict that there are going to be a handful of people who love it and a double-double handful of people who hate it. Change is hard.

I think the 5 word minimum is great.

Catherine Ivins said...

It's a tough one Angie - mostly it just drives home the lack of control to me - I am really 'not a fan' of Etsy asking my customers what they dislike about my work without my permission ....

I agree Kathy- 5 words is good - customers who leave feedback are not anonymous anymore either and I thought Etsy did that a couple years ago over privacy concerns ..I guess no more privacy concerns

Isisjem said...

I'd noticed the changes to how etsy looked but haven't bought anything on there (I don't think?) since the change became obvious. I didn't know you ever could revise feed back.

Even when there are things that don't work out so well I'd rather sort it with the seller than just leave negative feed back. Negative feedback should really be for: Don't touch this seller with a barge pole times. (Thankfully I've never experienced that.) Not for little hitches that good sellers always rectify without fuss.

Catherine Ivins said...

I agree - I think most people with a problem just want the problem fixed. Yes, the feedback revision thing is new - I would imagine someone would have to be pretty upset to bother to go back and downgrade feedback. I've bought many, many things on Etsy and have never had a problem - usually things are smaller than I think they will be - but that's usually because I didn't read the listing thoroughly!

DancingMooney ♥ said...

All the changes makes me want to go back to bed and try again tomorrow.

It makes me think more and more about having a website of my own, but the truth is that, because of my product, I like having that built in community of buyers... so I guess we get what we get, when it comes to plugging our 20 cents into someone else's machine. (and yes I am talking about gambling here, because it feels a lot like that every time I renew. haha) xo.

BlackStar said...

NOT a fan of the stars. Short and sweet because I'm all b*tched out. :)

Cait Throop said...

Really dislike that Etsy is actually asking for something negative. And I know some people will try hard to think of something because they are supposed to!?! Hate the star thingy. Not a fan of their changes anyway...and I already had one customer tell me that she couldn't leave feedback when she was so excited yesterday because she received a shawl from me. Now they are making her wait 7 days. Really? I just don't know.

K is for Calligraphy said...

"That's great...keep going!"
(wink wink)

I am not OK with Etsy telling my customers when and how to leave feedback. Etsy used to be a magical place. Resellers & Etsy's engineering team have managed to diffuse and deplete most of that magic. Thank you Cat for continuing to keep the magic alive! xo, Katy

Catherine Ivins said...

I have a feeling Etsy will be changing the verbage and tweaking some stuff with this - the stars I'm sure are here to stay. Katy- talking with you about this the other day made me think about customers losing all their feedback - and about the relationship lost from that - I hadn't even thought about that part - very sad, too .....