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10 January 2014

Starting an online shop, part 8: Feedback and Thick Skin

Hello folks! 
This final part of my Starting an Online Shop series is split into two parts, so that it's not overwhelming! Part two is coming tomorrow and will focus on customer service. Today I'm looking at negative shop feedback and how you can use it positively.

Setting up an online shop is hard work. It takes numerous hours, sleepless nights and continual practice to improve your products, constantly market them, keep on top of all the admin and finances and so on. After all that it's pretty gawling when you receive some negative feedback from a customer.

"But it was fine when I sent it out!"
                              "It's never fallen apart before!"  
                                            "How on earth does it look cheap after all the hours of work I put in?!"

Whatever the feedback, it's utterly heart breaking when it happens and unfortunately, I'm sorry to say, it will happen. I don't know one online business that hasn't received at least one bit of negative feedback. But don't worry, I'm pleased to say there is light at the end of the tunnel, so don't throw in the your towel just yet!

Here are three key things I've learnt from receiving negative feedback:

1) Don't EVER quit based on one or several pieces of negative feedback
2) Use the feedback to improve your products
3) Provide the BEST customer service possible

The first bit of negative feedback I received I actually discovered when looking through the reviews on my NOTHS shop. I was so unbelievably shocked and upset, to the point that I decided to quit. After sobbing my eyes out and thoroughly throwing the towel in, followed by a good nights sleep, I decided I actually loved running my shop and I just couldn't let one bit of criticism stop me from putting up the closed sign. I had to find a way to rectify the problem.

The product in question was one of my handkerchiefs, so I decided to go back to the drawing board and follow those first steps of research and practice, taking with me the knowledge I'd picked up along the way.


I researched different sewing techniques, tested a range of fabrics and practised, practised, practised! After weeks of work, I felt the product was much improved but I couldn't be sure. I needed a second opinion. That's when I decided to ask you, my lovely blog readers, to review my product. So, I ran a competition for three of you to win three personalised handkerchiefs each. The only proviso being that the winners had to complete an annonymous questionnaire on each handkerchief (made in different styles), so that I could get valuable feedback. I realised what I was actually doing was product testing. Big companies do it all the time and I can now see why. 

It was fascinating seeing the completed questionnaires - what worked about the handkerchiefs and what didn't. Straight away to further improve my product design and even the gift wrapping options too.

Initially it was scary waiting for the questionnnaires to come back but it was one of the most helpful things I've ever done. I now feel more confident about my product. I also now know that all feedback should be used constructively to continually improve all products with.

So, my message to you is this - don't throw in the towel when some criticism comes your way. Use it as valuable feedback to help improve your products and therefore the future of your business.

I hope that helps. Tomorrow I will be continuing this post, focusing on providing the best customer service possible, so stay tuned!



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