eBay's Removal of Anonymous Detailed Seller Ratings Shows Value in Customer Feedback

Yesterday, eBay announced it will be removing anonymity from Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) in April - news that is sure to make eBay sellers jump for joy. DSRs are what buyers use to rate the criteria of their purchasing experience. These four things include: item as described, communication, shipping time, and shipping/handling charges. As it stands now, DSRs are great for a quick assessment on each of these criteria, but give no specific detail, which would allow sellers to more effectively address the issues.

For example, if a seller was rated poorly on “shipping time,” the new version of seller ratings would allow them to further investigate if it was just a matter of geographic location or if there were other factors at hand. Now, with just a basic anonymous rating, it’s as if the DSRs point out a potential problem, but don’t actually let sellers begin to understand how they can fix it. Even worse, sellers are not confident these reviews are even legitimate.

This change is huge for businesses who sell products on Ebay. Transparency is key to improving customer service, and this update will allow sellers to better understand the person behind the rating. For a long time, the skepticism that arose from sellers about who was *really* leaving those reviews only caused disruption among the online marketplace. The hope here is that pesky buyers who leave negative ratings will be exposed and now be deterred from their previous trolling tendencies.


The Power of Customer Reviews

The Wall Street Journal reported that 92% of consumers have more confidence in info found online than they do in anything from a sales clerk or other source. Entire communities like Yelp and Angie’s List, have been built on the trust of transparent and honest reviews. Last November, Facebook implemented star ratings on company pages. Support-focused Twitter accounts have been created by brands just to monitor customer feedback and issues.

In a world where ecommerce is so heavily reliant on reviews and ratings, it’s hard to believe it took eBay this long to unmask the identities behind these ratings. Granted they existed on some level, but what good are ratings if a business is unable to address the issues.

Whether you are an eBay seller or run your business through Amazon, Etsy, Shopify or any other online platform, not only being aware of customer feedback, but leveraging it to make smarter business decisions is crucial. Here are a few tips on how to deal with both positive and negative reviews.


Leveraging Positive Reviews

When you receive a positive review from customers, approach it as the most valuable piece of content you own. Considering the weight content like this carries, you should be doing everything you can to use this as marketing material. Here are a few tips to move things along:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask.
If you are a small business owner who has engaged with a happy customer, don’t be afraid to ask them to leave an online review for your business. Be sure that you are aware of what review sites are most effective for your type of business and drive them to that site. Make it a part of your newsletter to customers or just reach out to them individually.

2. Show gratitude.
When you are gifted with a positive review, do not take it for granted. Reach out to the customer and thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts. This can further encourage them to share their thoughts with other potential customers.

3. Showcase evangelists
Whether on your blog or through your outbound marketing efforts, highlight the most loyal customers you have. Share their story and let them tell the world why they love your product.


Properly Handling Negative Reviews

Things aren’t always going to go smoothly. You’re bound to have an unhappy customer, and although quite uncomfortable, these must be dealt with swiftly.

1. Don’t avoid communication.
Take the issue head on. Speak calmly and try to be as understanding as possible. Even if you are frustrated and pressed for time, understand that ignoring angry customers could cost you. Literally.

2. Provide clear solutions.
Even if you don’t have a clear solution, be crystal clear on that. Customers will know when you’re trying to fool them. Just be honest about the situation and don’t flutter around the problem.

3. Know when it’s okay to cut ties.
Of course you’re not always going to make everyone happy. If you are dealing with a very rotten customer who cannot communicate with you maturely, then know that it’s okay to cut ties. It’s a tough decision to make, but you have to assess what is really worth your time and energy.

Today, eBay sellers don't exactly know who is leaving ratings on their product listings, but with the anticipated unmasking come April, these sellers should anticipate a higher level of accountability. As a business, if you are given reports including detailed information related to customer experience and product expectations, customers will know this. Not that sellers should be "careful what they wish for", but just know that with today's technology and resources, customers are more aware than ever when it comes to proper brand engagement and accessibility. And because of that, they'll expect a higher level of service.

As an online seller, do you find that transparent reviews allow you to communicate more efficiently? How do you reach out to your customers? And eBay sellers, what comments do you have on the latest change with DSRs? We’re excited to hear your thoughts!

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