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OFF TOPIC: My feedback? Stop begging for feedback

‘How would you rate this Google experience?”

‘How would you rate this Google experience?”

This sentence actually popped up on my computer screen a couple months ago, followed by a row of five yellow cartoon faces wearing expressions ranging from abject disappointment to unbridled joy.

How was my experience typing in a Google search?

Well, if I’m honest, it wasn’t nearly as memorable as being asked to stop and think about it long enough to rate it.

I’m still not sure if it was even legitimate (I didn’t click on it) but it did help to underscore the fact we are a needy species.

I can’t begin to count the number of interactions I’ve had in recent years, whether it’s after a purchase or a service call, that have been immediately followed by a request for feedback – sometimes it’s a quick 1-5 star review, while others want a forensic audit of the exchange.

I might be alone in this, but I feel like average, everyday interactions are undeserving of this kind of time and attention.

In fact, forcing me to stop and tell you that I had a medium experience automatically drops it a notch to sub-par.

And yes, I know, nobody is forcing me.

But, because I’m Canadian and a people-pleaser, and I can’t see any reason to actually care, unless you’ve genuinely hacked me off you’re going to get straight As across the board.

That’s because it’s the quickest and easiest exit strategy – one that spurs no further contact. Since the whole point of the exercise is to be told how great they are, there will be no follow-up.

And this pretty much renders the process meaningless.

If you’ve really burned me, trust me, you’re going to get a lot more in return than a yellow frown-y face.

By the same token, long before the dawn of the age of desperate texts and emails, if I had an exceptionally good experience, odds are the person who helped me – or their boss – would hear that from me, too.

Today, there are people whose jobs literally depend on positive customer feedback.

After a recent vehicle purchase, two separate sales people involved in the transaction implored me for a five-star review. I got the impression that anything less would create no end of professional headaches for them.

They were both terrific and, of course, I’d have given them a good review anyway (see above), but the notion that nobody’s allowed to have an off-day on the job is troubling.

In today’s gig economy, a bad day can cost you, whether you’re the service provider or the customer. When it comes to ride-sharing apps or vacation rentals, for example, reviews now go both ways.

I guess it makes sense. There’s no reason a worker should have to put up with abuse or lousy treatment from a client. Just because you’re paying, it doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk.

But the subjectivity only adds to the pointlessness of the exercise.

Something as simple as a personality conflict can affect your ability to use a service again.

I mean, if you don’t want me flossing my teeth in the back of your Uber, then have the courtesy to tell me to my face; don’t just downgrade me. It’s called communication.

(I’m kidding. I’ve never been in an Uber.)

You can see it in product reviews, too, where the exact same item has elicited responses ranging from “It’s the answer to every prayer I never knew I had” to “I’d rather bathe in runoff from a landfill than buy this again.”

Let’s face it, we consumers are a fickle bunch.

Just as when we’re in a bad mood the smallest inconvenience can take on far greater dimensions than it merits, those times when we’re especially happy, we’ll let a lot of things slide.

So, please, it’s time to just stop with all the begging for approval.

If I feel the need to give you feedback, I’ll find you. Maybe I’ll try a Google search. I hear they do good work.

Brenda Anderson is the editor of the Peace Arch News.

Brenda Anderson

About the Author: Brenda Anderson

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.
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