You’ll be receiving a customer feedback survey on the service you received from me. I will be in trouble with my manager if I don’t get all 10’s.
Yes, that is what she told me. I won’t tell you which company because it doesn’t matter. The not-so-subtle message is, “Tell everyone we’re great or keep your opinion to yourself.”
“Fake news” is a big thing currently, but it’s not new. Neither is fake feedback. As far back as I can remember, people have asked for my opinion. They really want it. It really matters. Unless I don’t agree with them or have a suggestion about how they might think about it from another perspective. In that case, my opinion is not so valued.
Don’t try this at home, boys and girls:
She: Does this shirt make me look fat?
He: Does this shirt make me look stupid?
She: Wrong answer.
Me: The above scenario was entirely invented out of my warped imagination.
Now, in fairness, I understand the pressure of getting good ratings in our very public, social media-driven world. Get enough 1 or 2-star Yelp reviews and you start to lose potential customers. Get enough 1 or 2-star Amazon reviews and nobody but your friends and family will buy your book or other product (and they will only buy it if it’s on sale).
A friend told me that back in the day before online reviews, his company had a training about customer service. They said that, on average, the person who has a positive experience will tell three people. A person who has a negative experience will tell seventeen!
Now, make that as simple a clicking stars online and you’re messing with someone’s livelihood. After all, who takes the time to go and read the reason for those low ratings?
So, I get it. The pressure is there.
Is there any lesson for us beyond, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”
Here are some possible lessons:
- If you are going to give feedback, start directly with the person whose service, product, or interaction you are “rating.” Talk to people! Allow for questions and conversation. Anyone who is truly interested in your feedback wants to know how they can get even better.
- Unless you have been hired by someone as a critic, it is not your job to protect the world from someone who offered you less than you expected. I would go on with this explanation, but those who find the need to publicly point out every shortcoming have already dismissed me.
- If you are going to give a rating, make sure you are rating the right thing. I actually got a 1-star review of one of my books on Amazon from a person who didn’t read it. She gave a 1-star rating because she ordered the electronic version instead of the paperback and she doesn’t read eBooks!
- Give more praise than criticism. Poor service/products and bad attitudes will eventually be weeded out by actual experience. Help people find the hidden treasures and the roses among the thorns, rather than the thorns on the rose bushes and the dirt under the treasure chest.
As those who understand that our lives matter to God, we understand there is a better way: “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Truth spoken in love trumps online clicks every time.