The online review process is a big double edged sword when you sell products online [ and also when you buy products online .] As someone that does both i have been meaning to jump on and talk about this for a while, and then a friend called me to rant about a review situation she has today.
The bad side of reviews first, whereby the system can be totally abused. So, I am at my mum's house on Christmas day evening watching a dodgy film, and my phone chirps to tell me that someone has left me feedback on Etsy. Anyone that sells on Etsy will tell you that when you get this notification your stress levels increase instantly while you check out the review . To an seller anything lower than a 5 star review is a bad review .
So i have a look and see that i have been left a 1 star review with the comment that the item has not arrived ! At no point had the customer previously informed me that they have not received it so i could do something about it, they have decided to wait until Christmas day to ruin my evening and upset me on purpose. I message them straight away to ask why they did not send me a message previously, it is clear from my other reviews that i go above and beyond to look after my customers, but if i don't know it has not been received [as it is an untracked item] i can not help . The response was " You have my money , i do not have my item ." There really are no words to describe how mean this is, especially as we have had the nightmare of Royal Mail strikes destroying small businesses this year, i guess i have to feel sorry for them that they have nothing else to do on Christmas Day than upset someone they don't even know, but frankly i have little interest i helping them further with their order. Etsy do absolutely nothing to help sellers in cases such as this, and bad reviews can be very damaging .
So my previously mentioned friend looks after a website for a care home, and told me today that a terrible review using abusive language had been left for the particular home. It turns out that this person has previously left bad reviews, and despite the fact that their relative's care is being funded my the NHS , they are obviously looking for unfounded compensation and abusing the review system in order to try to obtain this. I feel very angry that review systems are regularly abused by unscrupulous / angry /sad / people either for some kind of personal gain or to get some kind of " power". I have friends with small businesses feeling like they are being held hostage by reviews.
I would also like to say that a negative review could be useful if it is genuine, maybe the item was not up to scratch, everyone needs a kick sometimes in order to improve things.
On the plus side , most customers are great and leave really nice reviews as they understand what they are buying and want to support small businesses, and this feedback can make running your business so worthwhile. When i am buying something i always read reviews of the item, and i really appreciate genuine feedback from consumers , but i have learnt how to read between the lines when i see critical reviews.
There are many different review platforms , some directly built in to websites or apps that can be added to them, and platforms such as Trustpilot that hold reviews for multiple companies. I do feel that it is important but as someone that sees both sides i will never instantly jump on and leave a bad review for a company without trying to sort an issue out first . Sometimes a big company deserves a bad review as their products and customer service may be appalling, but not until attempts have been made to rectify situations.