Do You Hate Feedback, Too?

by Jonathan Tombes

Feedback was one of the subjects discussed in a recent episode of “Thrifting for Profit – The Amazon Way,” a weekly podcast hosted by Debra Conrad. Taking the lead on the feedback part of the show was Charlene Anderson, a jewelry and textile artist, designer, writer, seller and FeedbackFive customer who shared some frank views on the matter.

(To listen to the entire show, which included input from eBay expert Danni Ackerman, find the 45th episode, dated 8/30/13, on this TalkShoe page.)

Being Proactive Can Reduce Stress

Anderson is nothing if not forthright and voiced a sentiment possibly shared by anyone who has ever sold on Amazon. “I hate feedback. I absolutely hate feedback,” she said. Elaborating, she pointed to two difficulties: 1) the large percentage of feedback that “shouldn’t even qualify for feedback” and 2) the stress of not knowing what may be lurking in your inbox at any time.

As for what qualifies as feedback, Anderson welcomed Amazon’s decision (or greater willingness) to disqualify feedback about pricing. She would like to see more policy revisions but admitted that such changes were beyond her control. As far as reducing the stress of feedback management, however, she advocated a more hand’s-on approach. “I am a big, big fan of proactively asking for feedback on Amazon.”

Preempting Negative Feedback

Her reason? Being proactive reduces the likelihood of negative feedback. “If you ask someone for feedback and give them a way to contact you first, (then) if they have a problem, they are more apt to do that than to just leave the negative feedback,” Anderson said. That’s especially the case when “it’s so hard on Amazon to find out how to contact a third-party seller.”

Anderson said she has preempted negative feedback that way on three occasions so far this year. The key enabler has been FeedbackFive, which she described as “a paid service that automatically sends what’s called a feedback request to the Amazon customers you specify.”

But if not a solicitation for feedback, what is it? “I don’t call it a feedback request,” Anderson said. “I call it a customer service letter, because the gist of the letter should be…’I want to make sure that everything is OK,’ ‘Did we meet your expectations?’ ‘Is everything OK?’”

Results and Caveats

As Thrifting-for-Profit host Debra Conrad noted during this podcast, feedback tends to be skewed. “It’s really easy to get feedback from two different types of customers: unhappy customers and very happy customers.”

Sellers using FeedbackFive typically find themselves reaching more of that silent (but satisfied) majority. In Anderson’s case, she grew feedback by more than threefold. “So if I was getting 30 a week, it shot up to like 100 a week,” she said. And asking did not boost negatives. Her 365-day history is 100 percent positive.

In her own use of FeedbackFive, Anderson mentioned a few preferred practices. She sends only one letter (opting against a second); she elects to be copied on the outgoing letters; and she likes being able to target customers and avoids sending a letter to anyone who has returned a product or gotten a refund.

And she stressed another point: “Personalize the email. Take the template and personalize it so it speaks the language that you want to speak and the tone that you want your Amazon store to give off.”

Good Product, Reduced Stress

Anderson’s endorsement of FeedbackFive was candid and unsolicited. (FeedbackFive has an affiliate sales program, but Anderson is not part of it.)

The “Thrifting-for-Profit” spirit is to share useful resources (including the “Home Run Guides” that Anderson edited). In this podcast, Anderson pointed to FeedbackFive as a way to help sellers manage a stressful but necessary part of the business. Even those with stellar records may be anxious when checking their feedback inbox at the start of a day. “Invariably,” she said, “bad feedback comes in the middle of the night, right?”

Originally published on September 10, 2013, updated June 1, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.