As soon as DSR ratings became important, I made up a package insert that goes out in every single package I send. One side thanks you for your purchase and gives the URL for the store if you want to shop with us again. The second side is a similar message and contains all of our contact info. This page also has a notice about how we work hard to earn all five feedback stars, highlights some of the extra service we give, etc and asks if there is any reason that you feel that you cannot give 5 stars in any category, to please contact us immediately and before you leave feedback so that we can make it right because your business is important to us, yadda yadda.

I know I’m not the only seller with a similar postcard though I am proud to say mine is much less threatening and/or whining about feedback than most out there. The crux of it is, we are working really hard to get your good feedback and if you think you can’t give it, please at least let us know when so we can adjust how we do business. Or give you a refund to make you happy, etc.

I also created a similar message as a part of our shipment follow-up email. So we were giving buyers a reminder about this on two fronts.

Sidenote: I do not believe buyers intentionally are malicious on feedback stars. I think most genuinely have no idea how the feedback system affects sellers so my philosophy is to simply remind and/or teach them about how it works rather than threaten/whine about it. I know us sellers live and breathe feedback but it is a very different world out there as a buyer and we have to remember that. I think 95% of feedback issues come out of ignorance of the system and nothing else.

Anyway, my email and insert worked. How do I know they worked? Simply, for the year plus since I have been using them, I have had higher star ratings and the few unhappy buyers emailed me before feedback and each one specifically mentioned the insert (such as “Your note says to contact you if I was unhappy so I wanted to just say….” etc). I was pleased with the results, my feedback was good, my customers were happy and everything was sunshine and roses. Even the issues we never totally resolved we still talked over and somewhat diffused.

In the beginning of Feb, we got a neutral feedback which is something I hadn’t seen since we started the feedback messaging. It was because of a mistake on our part, one I would have immediately fixed if given the chance. I emailed the buyer, nice as anything, and just said that, in the future, with me or any other seller, you can always just email the seller before leaving feedback and most will make the issue right. Buyer and I get to talking and she apologizes and says she didn’t realize she could email me. I ask if she saw my package insert. She did, she tells me, but she threw it out without reading it. We part on good terms, hopefully she’ll buy from me again but I am annoyed to have been 1 starred on a miscommunication for obvious reasons.

I don’t think much of this until, a few weeks later, a buyer left us a positive feedback with a complaint in it and, sure enough, our dashboard shows a low rating for the relevant star for that period. It was a simple issue, buyer misread description but instead of just emailing us, left feedback first. I emailed this buyer in the same vein but this time got no reply at all.

Then we had this guy.

Now today I get another neutral. Neutrals are not the end of the world but when you haven’t seen one in a long time *and* when it reflects buyers suddenly leaving less than ideal feedback without so much as a word to you first, I find it worrying. This one, the buyer had two complaints. First was that we didn’t ship while our office was closed which, what do you want from me? We had a warning up not to buy if you weren’t OK with delayed shipping but I know there is nothing you can do about bad feedback resulting from vacation. But even that, I would have been happy to talk it out or issue a partial refund, etc HAD I BEEN FREAKIN’ CONTACTED FIRST!! (Also, her complaint was that shipping was slow. International order. Shipped March 3rd, arrived on March 8th. That is amazingly impossibly fast for international shipping, can I just point out.)

Anyway, the second part of her complaint is that the item got damaged in shipment. This is pretty cut and dry, we could have just replaced it or done the insurance claim depending on the extent. But again, we weren’t contacted.

Now this is not to say that these 4 are the only customer issues we have had recently. There have been others that were resolved perfectly happily.

So after over a year of our messaging to contact us before leaving feedback working like a charm, suddenly we’ve had four cases (spread out by months but still closer together than I would like) where the buyer has left less than ideal feedback without so much as saying one word to us or giving us a chance to do anything. We also know that at least one of these people looked at our package insert but didn’t read and/or process it at all.

The questions at hand then is: are buyers becoming feedback plea blind? Have we as sellers inundated them with so many feedback pleas and reminders that they are just ignoring all of them? Why did this work for so long, only to stop working so suddenly? Now, obviously, these buyers are a small minority out of many others who are emailing first, are not leaving feedback at all or are leaving good feedback but a few little things can sometimes point to the start of a bigger trend. Or is this just a random fluke with a couple of cranky people who just didn’t feel like reading our messages?

So let me ask you: What measures did you take to keep your DSR ratings up and are these measures still working?