|Thu May 15 2014 13:11:24|
It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently
By: Ina Steiner
Online payments service Square came out with another revolutionary service that helps online sellers in a way PayPal has never thought about, called Square Feedback. At first glance, it may not seem like a big deal - but it has the potential to ward off poor feedback and/or reviews for merchants, and it reflects a different way of looking at the relationship between buyers and sellers.
After a buyer pays for an item using Square, they have the option of receiving a digital receipt via email. For merchants who participate in Square Feedback, that receipt will contain a section that asks shoppers, "How was your experience?" along with a happy face and frowny face. Customers who click the frowny face have an opportunity to communicate directly with the merchant and tell them why they aren't satisfied. (Buyers have the option of making their message anonymous.)
The feedback message isn't posted online - the idea is to give the merchant an opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied buyer. "Resolve issues privately to save your relationship and protect your online reputation," Square Feedback explains. If a seller can resolve the issue, it means that buyer may leave a very different Yelp review than if the seller never knew about the problem.
That philosophy couldn't be more different than eBay's, whose system seems instead like a "gotcha!" waiting to happen. While eBay managers always used to say they believed people were basically good, certainly these days it seems everything they do signals the company doesn't trust its sellers. eBay sellers cannot leave neutral or negative feedback for buyers. But buyers, meanwhile, are allowed to leave anonymous ratings (though some of this anonymity is finally being lifted). Generally it can feel like eBay is using any reason to "punish" a seller based on what they hear from buyers.
It's easy to argue that most eBay sellers want to make customers happy. Often they don't know when there is a problem (certainly not without a case being opened - and that results in a "defect" against the seller!). That's the same thinking behind Square Feedback and why it is setting out to help both parties, making it easy for the buyer and painless for the merchant.
eBay is the only marketplace that seems to foster tension between buyer and seller - understandable in the old days when it was difficult for eBay to differentiate between bad sellers and good sellers, but not in today's world. It's time for eBay to look at feedback as an opportunity, as Square is doing.
There is one reason why "Square Feedback" might not work on eBay, and that's because the company seems unable to differentiate between bad buyers and good buyers (or chooses to be fairly forgiving of bad buyer behavior). eBay buyers could be tempted to use such a system to try and extort sellers, though that behavior is already taking place.
What do you think? Would you appreciate a system that gave buyers a chance to let you know of any problems before they left public feedback? Or, as things now stand, would that be asking for trouble?