I dream of a day that I can make a purchase, stay at a hotel or engage in commerce without being haunted to give feedback or leave a review. I believe choosing to purchase an item, stay at a hotel or eat at a restaurant is the positive feedback – I chose the establishment or product over a lot of other options. And then I paid them money, whatever price they put on it, which should confirm my positive feedback. At that point I am done. I like closure. I put the item into action, I left the hotel or I finished the meal. Onward with life….but no. I will be inundated with notifications to let them know what I think, and they don’t stop until they hear from me. Lately, I have been ignoring these, but they are relentless. The only way to a clean getaway is to rate and review.
And even if I do rate and review, it is still not over. Hotels.com reaches out for a review, and then the actual hotel also asks for a review. Can’t they collaborate? A new level of haunting picks up the pace with special offers for my next stay. The algorithms successfully climb into my bra and join me as I live my life. I can unhook my bra and shake them out at night, but when I open my email the next morning, they will climb back in.
When it comes to books, I review like nobody’s biz. I know that the authors benefit greatly from that, but these big companies don’t really get much more than my data when I review the 40¢ clips that hold the tablecloths on in the wind or when I break down and respond to their begging after I bought throat lozenges and gum.
If I want to order takeout, I have to use some additional app that clutters my psychic space with nudges to rate my experience, “exciting” offers I find irritating, and requires another password for Dashlane, taxing my already drifty-over-fifty brain to remember the dang app. After a benign banking experience of depositing money, the multiple emails seeking feedback just about put me over the edge. I LOVE the tellers at our bank. They are kind, helpful and friendly; banking is one of my joys because these humans are so terrific, and we connect on a personal level. I give them in-person feedback with genuine chats and gratitude. We know each other. I am big on the verbal gratitude wherever I go, but every company wants more input (and more data from me to expand their hauntings). I could unsubscribe, but that is another time-consuming game of whack-a-mole.
The other day I received a phone call from a kind person from a company because I hadn’t done the rate and review dance. I explained that I loved their service and would use them again, and let them know that the worst part for me is the reliving it through the review. They were “grateful for that feedback.” I promised I would be back for more service and hoped it could be without calls for feedback. This particular company is very special because it is family-run, super personal and does a fantastic job. There are other overly-reviewed companies doing the same service for less money, but I chose them because of the personal vibe and care they bring with the service. I chose, I paid and I got the service. Flush and move on with the day.
I have always made the effort to give positive reviews for the people behind the desk of a hotel or a small business or service because I believed it really helped them get more money and respect from their supervisors. It was never conditional, but they make it so. The badges and congratulations for all my feedback seemed like additional engagement in an experience that was already in the rearview mirror.
Let’s consider something we already know. Almost all reviews and comments are written by people who had a super positive experience and loved the product OR people who had a bad experience. There are very few middle-of-the-road level reviews that say much of anything constructive. Some nasty, troll-type people relish in the anonymous opportunities to take people and businesses down hard. These folks lack the courage to speak directly to the people who provide the product or services. It seems to feel powerful for them to hide behind their laptop or phone while they vent and rage. Think of what companies weed through to get a few props.
We are a society full of praise junkies. This all reminds me of what I learned from our dear friend and parenting mentor, Vicki Hoefle. Praise is empty and doesn’t inspire long term shifts in behaviors. Encouragement, however is the thing that lasts for the recipient because it is personal and direct. Encouragement requires emotional presence and paying attention. Let’s knock off this practice of constant praise – the equivalent of blowing smoke up their backside and get back to the fact that spending our money at an establishment or for a service is feedback enough to encourage a business to keep providing.