What Your Review Means To A Small Business
I write this today in the hope of encouraging folk to see the difference between small Independent Sellers and Big Faceless Companies. We work differently from those huge conglomerates that are money-grabbing and planet-suffocators.
We put so much of ourselves into what we do and that is carried the whole way through the selling process. When we get reviewed at the end of an order, you're reviewing us. You're reviewing Anto and Jenny and Samwise the dog and everything we've worked so hard at to get to this point.
I write this in the hopes that we as Independent Sellers can be reviewed differently from the Big Guys. 5 Star reviews across the board are something that we have to strive for in order to have a chance of being seen in the sea of search algorithms on the selling platforms we have to use. We have such a small amount of reviews compared to the Big Guys, we have to make each one count. And we rely on you to do that.
We're very lucky to have customers who buy from a Small Business because they the experience of buying from a Small Business. We're also thankful that our customers see how far a good review can take our wee business. We're grateful that it's not common to be given a one star review just because they were having a bad day.
Our Buyers know that we rely on our reputation to succeed, and we work hard to earn every single one of those stars, from every single review. We aren't unique in this; thousands of other Independent Sellers like ours have a tiny wee space of the internet to make a good impression and every good review is cherished by us all.
We'd like to share the experience of an Independent Seller, and how your review will impact not only their livelihood but also just their day. You have a lot of power over a Small Business on a very personal level when you shop with them... and we all know that with great power comes great responsibility.
But I Ain't Happy!
And just before I go further... I'm not saying 'don't complain!' I'm just saying don't berate a wee business until you've given the Seller an opportunity to fix the problem. I can absolutely guarantee that your problems will be listened to, responded to quicker, and more offers of solutions will be given to you than any big company would ever do. I'm confident that if you have a problem with an order from an Independent Seller that you'll still go away ten times happier than if you bought from a big faceless company.
During the Royal Mail strikes of Christmas 2022 we both spent Christmas Day helping our customers with solutions to the massive postal delays. I missed Christmas dinner so I could support concerned buyers, but I can guarantee that Jeff Bezos didn't miss out on any pigs in blankets. Our Mortgage Broker friend runs his own business and was emailing his clients the same day his baby was born. I don't know if Kylie Jenner will respond to your lip-kit shipping query the same way.
Got a problem? No problem! Contact the Seller, let them help you! Then rate them at the end of your experience. Give them a chance to help... because if it's their business, I guarantee they will want you to be happy.
This should be a given, but don't mark down a Seller for something out of their control. A cyber attack happened on the UK's postal service that resulted in all International post shutting down for 3 weeks?... Don't mark them down because your order was late. They don't have a private jet. They can't fly your beanie baby display case over to you. Instead, rate them on how they dealt with it. Did they contact you to see if you wanted to wait? Did they keep you updated regarding delays? Did they ship the first day the post reopened? Ultimately, rating a Seller on something they can't control and is unforeseen isn't all that helpful for future customers. They want to hear that their order will be made properly, shipped safely and arrive. Share that they helped you through the unforeseen cyber attack, share that you knew what was happening all through the delays. Share that they gave you a discount code even though it wasn't their fault.
The Richter Scale Of Reviews
I can only speak for certain to our own experience, but we have friends who are also Independent Sellers. I've seen how they respond to a review notification on their phone; I've seen the same look of joy and panic in their faces, so I'm confident we're not alone in the the rollercoaster of emotions when a review comes in...
5 Star Review
"Oh Lawdy Lawd, it's a review notification from that fella Tobias. Mute the music... Phew, they were happy! Even though that order was going to the outskirts of civilisation in Alaska and it got held up at customs and arrived after their wedding. I know you'd said to them Anto to cancel because it was so close, but they wanted to chance it. They said they were happy to hang the sign in their new house. Oh look, they've included a photo... that view over the mountains from their garden is class. Ok, you can turn the music back on."
For an Independent Seller a 5 star review doesn't have to mean that it's the absolute best thing you've bought all year. It just means that we personally haven't done anything bad to warrant marking us down. It just means we tried our best for you. It just means we made something good quality. It just means you aren't unhappy or unsatisfied.
4 Star Review
"I'm out having a coffee with Christine who I haven't seen in six months. I see a four star review comes in. I stop our chat to check the order details. Did it get delayed in the post? Did something break? I don't see a message from the customer and they haven't written anything in the review. Why weren't they totally happy? Sorry Christine, just hang on to that thought a wee moment. I'll phone Anto, he's in the workshop. He's seen it too and stopped what he's doing to send the customer a message to see if he can figure out what's wrong. No reply ever comes from the customer. We never find out what's wrong."
We hand make everything, we design it ourselves. Occasionally there might be a problem with a design, or some aspect of our ordering process that needs to be better. We welcome feedback, we want everything to be as good as it can be. But we can't fix what we don't know about. Please, if you're not 100% happy, send us a message so we can help you. Give us a chance to make you happy, because I guarantee we'll give it a jolly good bash.
3 Star Review
"I'm almost finished the 'Big Shop'. I'm checking out the cleaning products aisle to see if that nice cleaning cloth is back in stock. I see a three star review comes in... headphones off, cloth forgotten about (I still haven't got one to this day), tried phoning Anto as reception is bad in here but call won't connect. Right, just finish the Big Shop quickly. Stress pack the bags. Rush home. Contact the customer. They weren't happy because they thought the Bookmark would be smaller. I offer a return and to make it a custom size for them. They say no thanks they want to keep it as they still love it. Three star review remains live. And my hunt for the nice cleaning cloth continues."
Being an online business with people just buying from photos, we're well used to people thinking an order would be different from it actually is. That's why we work hard to try and accurately represent our products as best possible, and to come down on the positive side; make it even better than the photos.
One man's "small bookmark" is another man's "big bookmark"... but if you buy from an Independent Seller like us you will probably have the wonderful option of contacting us to request a custom size. And we'll do it with a song in our heart and a smile on our face because then we know you'll be getting exactly what you want and more inclined to be really happy with your order. Please stop marking Sellers down because you didn't check what 10cm looks like on a ruler.
2 Star Review
"We're both out for a walk with Samwise the dog. A rare beautiful sunny day in the forest having a wee adventure. A dreaded two star review comes in. I am upset. I am a bit cross. It's from Layla. I remember her from a few weeks ago because she demanded that her order be made that day and to turn her bauble she ordered into a keyring. I told her that I don't recommend it with this design as it's got lots of intricate cut outs and would be too fragile for keyring purposes, it's better suited to a bauble. No, she was adamant that she wanted to take the risk. What happened? Even Samwise could guess that... it broke. Before the review, we'd been having fun in the forest. I was now tearing up and we're both now silently dwelling on this for the rest of the walk. Is it just me or did it get cloudy?"
We'll always give our honest opinion on our work, even if it means doing ourselves out of a fiver for a Christmas bauble order. But once we've said our piece, if someone wants to continue their order we'll do it of course. On this occasion I'd also like to say we even used thicker wood for her, at no extra charge. I put a note in the order to be extra careful and that I recommend caution with the keys (ie. don't throw them and dump them and abandon them in the bottom of your bag). I also included a wee bit of handmade bauble twine incase she changed her mind and wanted to use it as originally intended.
A bad review for a bad job is fair, but if you leave a bad review for someone who put so much effort in I guarantee that they will dream about it, talk about it, cry over it, and find it difficult to let go.
1 Star Review
"Pull the car over. Stop making dinner. Put down the wood oil. We turn the car around and get back to the computer. We didn't end up eating dinner that night. We finished oiling the next day. A one star review entirely de-rails the day. For both of us. Thankfully we've only experienced this a few times. But every review notification that comes in gives me the stomach-lurching reminder of the formidable feeling, as the webpage loads up and the star rating is revealed. Every time a review pops up, a little creep of dread appears...is this going to be one of those days?"
Thankfully we've never had a one star that didn't come from just a fundamental clash in ideals between us and the Buyer. Maybe it's just not what the Buyer was looking for, and that's ok! We don't expect to please everyone all the time. But a one star is a crushing blow for sure. One star reviews are usually given by the type of person whose name is typically joked of beginning with a K. Often, they don't accurately represent the quality of what we've sent them, any unavoidable postal issues, or the customer service.
I can't speak to all Independent Sellers, but if you're unhappy... give the Seller a chance to fix it. I can promise from us two that we will do all we can to make you happy.