The Importance Of Feedback?

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Feedback probably generates more conflict and comment than almost any other topic on eBay today.  This short guide is my opinion as a PowerSeller and is only that - opinion.  It is intended that you will add this to the things you already know and will make your own mind up!

Feedback is much like many things in life.  It is only important if it is important to you.  By this I mean that if you want to use feedback as one of your criteria for choosing a seller then it is important - if you do not care about their feedback then it is not important at all. 

Many sellers get really upset/excited/dismayed (pick your emotion as it applies to the situation) when they are talking about feedback.  The stars system is designed to 'reward' those people who trade regularly on eBay with an increasingly difficult to obtain star award.  The thing is - everyone on eBay - from the shooting star PowerSeller to the humble newbie started with 0.  My feedback score as I write this is over 800.  Some would say that it is really easy for me to say that feedback isn't important when I have over 800 positive feedbacks.  Actually, I LOVE getting good feedback.  I genuinely think it helps people to choose to buy from me.  The point is - I do not think that feedback is that important. 

Let's look at what feedback is and isn't:

1.   Feedback does NOT have a cash value - you can't spend it with anyone.
2.   Feedback DOES massage the ego when it is good
3.   A high score for a member does NOT mean your transaction will be easy
4.   Feedback CAN be abused (just see the amount of 1p/1c auctions out there - people are just buying feedback)
5.   Feedback is NOT compulsory

If you were going to buy something from a bloke in a pub you would expect it to be dodgy - so you would use your judgement and you would think carefully, taking everything into account before you handed him any money.  eBay should be treated in exactly the same way.  Use feedback as part of your decision making criteria, not as all of it.

Additionally, if you do not get feedback (particularly when you have low feedback or are close to a new star) you will often feel inclined to chase someone whom you have transacted with to make sure that they post feedback.  I would be very wary of doing this.  At the moment my own feedback is set up so that  my customers get one feedback reminder via the eBay system.  If they do not post feedback after this I simply assume that I will never get feedback from them.  It is simply not important to those people.  As such (at the time of writing this) I have some 190 outstanding feedbacks.  These are completed transactions where the user has not left me feedback!  If you chase for feedback, be warned.  Many people will see chasing for feedback as innappropriate (remember - it is voluntary) and you may get a neutral or even worse a negative feedback for your troubles.

If you treat feedback as a 'nice to have' then it can really work in your favour.  Be quick to leave feedback for others when it is appropriate, and 9 times out of 10 they'll quickly respond in kind.  The 10% or so that don't leave feedback you must not concern yourself with.  Get on and worry about the next transaction and make sure that is as good as it can be.

My conclusion to the question in the title (The Importance of Feedback?) is simple.  Feedback is not important.  It is certainly useful; nice to have; fun; and can be a good indicator - but it is not important.

Quick tips for Buyers

i)    Use feedback only as part of your decision making criteria - do not rely solely on it
ii)   Hope to get good feedback from your seller - but don't demand it
iii)  Don't threaten to 'leave bad feedback' or to 'spoil your 100% score' during a dispute.  Those sellers that are likely to work with you will be put off by this, and those sellers that are unlikely to work with you couldn't care less anyway.  It certainly wont help you
iv)  Don't expect/demand that a seller leaves their feedback first - most wont (in case they leave you good feedback and then you threaten them with bad feedback afterwards)
v)   Do try to see your own feedback in the same way as you would see a compliment from a stranger - nice to receive but unexpected.  You wouldn't ask someone in the street to say what he thinks of your new hairdo would you? (Would you? :-) )

Quick tips for Sellers

i)       Do try to leave prompt feedback - particularly for newbies.  Remember when that next feedback point was important to you to.
ii)      Don't expect to get feedback from all your buyers - it is simply not important to some
iii)     Don't be too concerned by your first negative (unless you deserve it - then fix the problem).  Most buyers will read all your feadback in context so a few negs are ok if you are genuinely not at fault
iv)     Do try to act in a way that encourages good feedback - exceed your customers expectations and they will be keen to leave good feedback for you
v)      Don't chase feedback - your job as a seller is to make a profit - testaments to your service are not part of the deal!
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