What was/is the purpose of feedback?
Originally Pierre Omidyar created the feedback system on eBay as a means to provide the buyers provision of trust. Since his company (eBay) had absolutely no control over the supply side of his new and ever growing marketplace Pierre devised the feedback system.
The feedback system, when introduced, was revolutionary in the marketplace because, back in the day... people generally did not trust in the Internet. Transactions on the Internet were generally frowned upon, people were very fearful of releasing data, using credit cards, sending money to unknown parties who advertised on the Internet.
Pierre's eBay feedback system provided the illusion of trust & safety.
This system allowed him to operate his company as the venue rather than the supplier of goods or services. In effect eBay was and is a massive classified advertising department. The local version of print advertising in every city in the world has absolutely no control over the buyer experience. They do not keep feedback numbers on local advertisers whether those advertisers are car salesmen or people running a garage sale.
After all, it was and is just an illusion, is it not?
The difference between a seller with one good feedback and a Powerseller with 10,000 feedback is zero if your transaction with that party goes bad. If one looks at the 10,000 feedback sellers out there, dozens if not hundreds of negative feedbacks have been accumulated by these Powersellers. The illusion however is that these sellers are more trustworthy than the low feedback seller, simply because they sell more often.
The illusion of high feedback never guaranteed a transaction.
It only was a comment on how many transactions a particular user completed. Certainly poor feedback ratings were not a good thing, but at high levels of feedback, multiple negatives really never effected the score by much. Feedback was not a promise, it was just a score which became less and less accurate with each additional 100 transactions.
There have always been ways to manipulate the feedback system on eBay. And there are better ways to judge if a seller will rip you off, or not, than by studying a feedback score.
So, why keep the feedback system at all?
It has always been an illusion, it has always been manipulated, and now that the Internet has matured and the public has grown more accustomed to buying online, there really is very little need for a feedback system at all.
A more appropriate system might be to incorporate customer reviews...
Not just of products, but customer reviews of sellers. An Amazon style review input panel, where customers could actually write a review of the complete experience with a seller.
This may sound scary for sellers... Especially good sellers who know there are nuts out there who will write anything...
I say those types of customers will always be out there, yet other good customers will identify them quickly by reading the nutty things they publish in a review. This review system could include a response feature for the merchant or some other mechanism to remove or negate unjustified content...
A database of glowing reviews could go a long way for high volume and low volume sellers alike.
Do you buy products on Amazon after checking the reviews of those products? Don't the reviews by other users help you to make a buying decision?
This type of system would be the logical next step for the feedback system eBay is currently struggling to revise. As merchants we no longer need to review our buyers/customers. The only issue left is the issue of building trust with your buyers/customers. Feedback on eBay is to limited in scope and content and has been ignored by buyers for a long time.
Why even bother?
What do you think? Add a comment below