Crickets to Cha-Chings Episode 005
Bad Feedback on Etsy - Now What?
Hey hey and welcome back to another episode of Cricket's to Chings. I'm your host Lauren and I am glad you've tuned in.
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Today we are going to talk all about bad feedback.
If you have been selling on Etsy for a while and have a decent number of sales, you have probably received either bad feedback or less than totally positive feedback.
I wouldn't really say that in my life in general I am a people-pleaser. I don’t really mind people disagreeing with me and generally don’t strive to make everyone happy all the time (I don’t know if that is a good thing to admit or not, but here we are).
But bad feedback gets to me in a way that I wouldn't really expect. I think it is because I feel like I have poured my heart and soul into this business - I have worked so, so very hard to build something that I am incredibly proud of, and when you have someone who so blatantly dislikes what you’ve created, it stings.
Also because we are selling online, they get to basically hang a sign on the front window of our shop telling everyone how much they hate it, so that’s not super exciting.
But the fact of the matter is if you have been in customer service for more than 5 Seconds, you have to learn that you're not going to be able to make everybody happy.
The more people that you serve, and the more people that buy your products, the more people are going to be unhappy. It is just basic numbers, and there is almost no way of avoiding some level of people being dissatisfied, no matter how hard you try.
So there are a few things that I want you to keep in mind when you inevitably receive bad feedback on your shop.
The first is that some bad feedback can be constructive criticism, and can be helpful in moving your shop toward higher quality products or a better overall shopping experience.
Early on in my shop, I received some feedback from someone that left a review that was mostly positive in what they said, but it was three stars. I reached out to them and ask them how I could have made the experience better or how I could have made them happier in their buying process. they got back to me and said that they felt like the fabric that I used in the item was kind of cheap and thin and that they had purchased some more items from other Etsy stores that they felt like had higher quality fabric being used.
My initial reaction was to be offended, of course, that she were basically saying that my products looked cheap. However when I reflected a little bit on what she was saying and what kind of experience I had with the product and the fabrics that I was using, I saw that there was room for me to improve in that area.
At the time I was buying fabric mostly from big box stores at the mall or whatever, But I had dabbled a little bit in online wholesale fabric and more designer fabrics, which I previously hadn’t even known was a thing.
If you remember my back story, you’ll remember that I started this Etsy shop to try to create an income for myself, so I didn’t have a long history with making these items or a lot of experience in the market that I was in because I hadn’t been making these things for long.
I reflected a little bit on her comment and whether or not I thought there was some truth to it.
And ultimately I decided to really upgrade my fabrics, because I began to notice a serious quality difference between those designer fabrics or designer brands, and the big box store quality fabrics that I was buying.
Even though it's stung a little bit because I didn't realize that what I was putting out was not as good quality as I was wanting or thinking that it was, ultimately it really helped me to move in a direction of providing higher-quality and better quality items more boutique style items, which was a total win.
On the flip Side of that, sometimes there is no constructive criticism and the buyer is just flat out wrong. These are really frustrating bad reviews to receive, because you don’t necessarily feel like there is anything that you could have done differently to make the buyer happy.
Many years ago I had a buyer that orders a 3 month bodysuit for her baby for Christmas.
It had a reindeer on it, and was monogrammed with her baby’s name on it. I made the shirt as ordered and shipped it off to her, nothing special about the order.
She sent me a message once the shirt arrived at her house, and was livid that I had sent a 3 month shirt. Her son was 3 YEARS old, and she wanted a 3T.
After I looked back at my records and confirmed on the order that she had in fact selected a 3-month size from the drop-down menu, which did by the way also lists 3T as an available option, I messaged her back and included a screenshot that she had ordered this 3 months size.
She continued to argue with me about the fact that she had no use for a 3 month shirt because her child was significantly bigger than that, but in the end I did not refund because she had ordered the 3 month, and of course there was no way for me to know that she actually wanted a 3T.
While I can sympathize that It would be very frustrating to spend the money on a personalized item and then have it be completely wrong size and not be able to use it, she had gotten exactly what she ordered and there was no reason for me to take the financial hit of offering a return or refund on it because she had made a mistake.
Now if you wanted to be really nice, you could always offer a coupon for a purchase to correct the issue if they wanted to re-buy the item with the correct information, but you don't necessarily have to do that and it's not necessarily going to make the customer happy because they are going to have to spend more money to get what they wanted.
I've actually offered that in the past where it made the customer even more angry because they were already upset about the whole situation and then they’re like “I'm will never spend any more money in your shop.”
There are also times where you receive what the buyer is hoping will be constructive criticism but it actually is something that just isn't reasonable for your shop or isn't feasible for your business.
This has happened to me with my packaging materials, and what I have found again is that you really can't make everybody happy. I have received negative feedback saying that my packaging materials are not nice and don't present the gift in a nice way or cheap in the gift.
But I've also received positive feedback saying that they love the packaging and it was ready to be given as a gift and everything was great.
So I have to make a decision for my business based on what I know my costs to be and what makes sense for the time that it takes and the price that i’m receiving for the item.
I received feedback fairly recently probably within the last 6 months that somebody said that they were suggesting that I package the items off more nicely in a box. This is actually feedback that I've also received in the past.
But the thing about my items is that they are already over the one pound limit, so I have to send them as Priority Mail which is expensive. I have gotten boxes in the past and tried to make the presentation nicer and a little bit prettier, but the box added so much weight to the package that they put it over the 2 lb limit which then made my shipping costs really expensive.
I try really hard to keep my shipping costs reasonable and low and or offer free shipping and so to take that hit an offer this in a box packaged up really nicely but then cost me so much more in shipping in addition to the packaging materials to the boxes in the tissue paper in the tape and everything else it just didn't make sense for my business.
In the end I haven't received that feedback a whole lot, so what I take from that is that while it's important to a few people and maybe those few people are not going to come back and buy my products again, overall it is not something that's really important to my customer base and so they would not really be willing to pay extra or pay more for the item for that packaging.
In the future I might look for lighter boxes or a different solution that would be the best of both worlds for people because I do think that that's something that my products are lacking at this point, but I have to take that feedback with a grain of salt because I can't just jump on every suggestion that everybody offers me that ends up costing my business a significant amount of money.
Another example is sometimes that the buyer has been really confused in the purchase and so that the feedback that they leave you is incorrect in the actual information that it contains.
This has happened to me before when people have changed up details of an order or change the font of an order and then it ends up looking different than what they're expecting.
I had a customer two selected a font from a list of font options that I offer for a baby quilt, and I didn't really think that the font was going to look great on the quilt just because of the style and the weight of the font. So I emailed her back and I confirmed that that was not the one that was shown in the picture and confirmed that she really did want that font. And she emailed me back and said again that she wanted that font.
When it arrived, she was a very upset that it was not the font that was shown in the original listing picture. Again I screenshotted the messages of us going back and forth saying hey you requested this other font and I verified that you wanted it twice and you confirmed that she wanted. But it did not matter if that's what she did ask for that's what she wanted because the end result was not what she wanted.
I want to say again that you have to make the decision that's best for your shop in your business when you are in any of these situations.
In any and all of these situations I could have replaced the item for the buyer for free or refunded it for them and they would have been happy with that solution. But I would have been out the money and my items are personalized so there's no reason that they would return them it doesn't do anything for me if they return them.
But if you are saying that you are just going above and beyond with an amazing customer service policy, you could always take that return or offer that refund.
I am not telling you that I am the one that's doing this correctly or that you have to do it the same way that I do. This is just how I run my business and this is how I have my refund policy so that I don't feel like I'm being ripped off when there's mistakes being made that are not my mistakes.
I did not refund quilt even though she was not happy with the end result and she told me that she was going to throw them in the garbage. I took the bad review even though I could have avoided it with a refund, because it's not worth it to me to refund to avoid about review.
Which brings me to my next point, I don't want you to be intimidated into refunding or allowing a return from your buyer just because you are afraid of a bad review. I see this all the time in Etsy Facebook groups and in the Etsy forums and stuff.
A seller says that the buyer is unhappy with the purchase and they are mad about the transaction, and they want a return or a refund and if seller is not going to give them one of those then they're going to leave them a bad review.
Often times sellers, especially new sellers, jump to refund the purchase before even really thinking through the whole process just to avoid the bad review. can I get that.
Because especially as a new business it's a very hard to get bad feedback and you don't want it to sit on your shop homepage for a long time if you don't get really frequent feedback or sales. So if you're bringing to the Etsy or you're just starting off and you have a situation like that it might be something that you think about a little bit differently than I do at the point in my business that I'm
So if you're brand new or you're just starting off and you have a situation like that it might be something that you think about a little bit differently than I do at the point in my business that I'm at in, because if you have only a few feedbacks being left it is going to affect your shop more.
Make sure that you are sticking to your policies and what you will accept. Don't ever give somebody a refund and allow them to keep the product.
Nobody does that.
There are hardly any stores out there that will both refund your money and allow you to keep the product.
Even in my store, which has a monogrammed stuff so I cannot resell it and it does not help me at all to get the return, I require them to return it if there's been a mistake made, because no customer should get an item for free and also get their money back.
If they are unhappy enough with the item that they want their money back, there should be no problem for them to return it.
Requiring a return of the item also dramatically cuts back on the number of scammers that you will have.
Scammers are looking for new shops with sellers who are not confident in their policies and jump to give those refunds but allow the person to keep the item.
I actually had someone tell me that there was a hole in the item that they received and they wanted their money back. I said okay can you send me a picture of the item so that I can see what happened? And they told me that they had thrown it in the garbage, they took the garbage out, and they didn’t have any pictures.
Is there a possibility that that was a true story? I mean, maybe.
But I think it's very doubtful because they had just received the item the day before and it seems pretty suspect to me that somebody would open up a package, realize that it has a hole in it, not take any pictures, dump it in the trash, and take the trash out before they had ever even emailed the seller.
That seems to be moving pretty quickly to me. when I responded to the person that I wouldn't be able to provide a refund without pictures, they never responded back again.
As you are writing out your policies and thinking about returns and refunds, just make sure that you protect yourself as a seller.
You do have expenses in all of this, not to mention the time that is going into creating the products that you made it, so don't jump to trust every single person that has the slightest little complaint and refunded them immediately.
A lot of times there's other solutions that you can work out with them or there's a different solution that they're looking for an emailing you, and it will allow you to make them happy in the situation without taking the loss on your item.
The last thing I want to say about bad feedback is that when you go to respond to bad feedback on your page, which you can only respond to reviews that are 3 stars or less, you want to respond to your future customers, not necessarily the customer who is leaving the review.
So while you may want to go in this back and forth with that customer and prove why they are wrong and what they are saying, and I get the temptation to do that because you want to defend yourself and defend your rightness in the situation, you are really responding to those future customers who would look at that review and decide whether or not they want to buy from you based on how you reply.
You don't want to be accusing the person that's leaving the review or just showing them how wrong they are, you want to show your future buyers that you provided a solution in the best way that you could order that you provided the item that the person had actually ordered even if they had made a mistake with the order.
You want your future customers to be confident that your customer service and their shopping experience will be a good experience and that you'll take care of an issue if an issue does arise.
I hope that the show has been helpful to you as you navigate customer service and dealing with the inevitably unhappy customer that comes along your way as you have more sales on Etsy and get further into the sales process of having an e-commerce store.
I don't want to give the impression that at the buyers are bad or that I don't like dealing with customers, because that's definitely not true. I have pulled out this handful of stories of bad situations or bad customer interactions, but these are just a few customer stories in over 12,000 etsy sales.
The vast majority of my customers are so nice, so sweet, and love the things that I put out. But you have to know working in customer service that you are going to come upon people who are not happy, and that is going to be a situation that you're going to have to deal with that some point in the process of having a shop, so I want you to be prepared and have an idea in mind of how you’ll deal with that.
If you have enjoyed this episode and you are enjoying Crickets to Cha-Chings and the Creative Mom Boss community in general, I’d love to have you join us in the Facebook group, Etsy Roadmap by Lauren Keplinger.
It gives us the chance to get to know each other better you can ask questions and Link arms with other Etsy entrepreneurs to have a sense of community in this oftentimes kind of isolating online space. I hope I'll see you there, and in the meantime I will see you next week, same time same place. Bye for now.