DAVID L. PETERSON

Someone is Paying Attention

Laptop on a table surrounded by two studio lights. There is a white backdrop behind the table.

As a result of the shelter-in-place rules, many people have set up areas where they can participate in online meetings that go beyond just activating their laptop’s camera. In fact, it has become quite common for inane conversation about the weather to be replaced by questions about the books, knick-knacks or awards that happen to be in the view of the camera. Such are the times in which we live.

A person’s backdrop and surroundings are not the only critical factors in creating a great looking and sounding livestream. Also important are lighting, video quality and sound quality. Lighting is the element that most people neglect. Even though the camera quality in today’s laptops is actually quite good, there is rarely a natural light source that provides not only the proper shade and brightness but also comes from the correct direction. A light overhead and a nearby window seldom provide the right kind of light. This leaves the person partially in the dark or with dark, sullen features. More often than not, they’re hard to see altogether.

I have professional camera and audio equipment, but I quickly realized I did not have the appropriate lighting for streaming video. I did some research and found a light kit from Neewer that included two lights with adjustable brightness and a filter, which were operated by a rechargeable battery. I found the lights to be quite useful, and since they were battery operated, they could be placed anywhere. The problem came when I recharged the batteries using the supplied dual battery charger. Since the kit didn’t come with a 110v adapter, I plugged the USB connecter into my regular Apple 110v charger, which unfortunately, nearly caught on fire. I went back to the instructions and found where it said the battery charger needed a high amperage 110v adapter. It did seem odd the kit would not come with the appropriate charger. Further, once I had the batteries fully charged, they barely lasted 40 minutes before dying—and I didn’t even use the lights at the highest intensity level.

I’d thought the batteries would last for at least a couple of hours. If they couldn’t even last one hour, how could you use them for an online video stream in the first place? Unhappy, I packed it all up and sent it back to Amazon, for which they promptly credited me. I ordered another light kit, and then I did something I rarely do, I left a bad review about the Neewer lights on Amazon. One star. And a narrative about my problems with the charger and the battery life.

A few days later I received a call and a follow up email from Neewer about my review. They wanted to apologize for the problems I had experienced and ensure I had received a refund. During the conversation, I went back to the Amazon listing for the light kit and examined it more closely; it said the batteries that came with the kit would last for 40 to 80 minutes depending on what intensity level was used. I don’t think my experience with the batteries met those qualifications, but I had to admit my negative review was based more on my expectations of how the lights would perform and not on what was actually sold to me. Yes, I want my lights to stay on for as long as I need them, which could be virtually all day. Therefore, I need lights that plug in, not battery powered lights.

I soon realized I had overreacted on my review, and I went back in and adjusted my words. My revised review was fairer to Neewer, but it still accurately depicted my circumstance and provided meaningful information to future buyers. I even got an email from the Neewer rep thanking me for the adjusted review. This is the key point: Someone from Neewer was paying attention, saw the bad review and reached out to inquire. That is what good companies do. I never shy away from products or services where I see a less than stellar review, especially when I see the company responding. You can’t please everyone all the time, and sometimes a lemon rolls off the assembly line. You have to follow up, ask questions and see if you can remediate the issue. Neewer got a better result BECAUSE they were paying attention. It matters.

Regardless of your line of work, or what product or service you might provide, you must diligently pay attention to the reviews you receive online. There are automated services that can do this for you, but only you can ensure that you are following up on a potential disgruntled customer.

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