Did you know that it takes upwards of 20 four- or five-star reviews to combat the effects of just one negative review on Amazon? Unfortunately, shoppers are more likely to share an unsatisfactory experience than they are to share a terrific one. While we can’t necessarily change shoppers’ behaviors on the Internet, we can change how we address concerns and criticisms in the form of Amazon reviews.
Here are 4 steps for establishing a success cycle when confronted with negative reviews on Amazon.
Step 1. Determine if the review is a legitimate product complaint or malicious meddling.
Unfortunately, in the world of Amazon, you have some bad actors in the mix. These are sellers and programmers who boost their businesses and harm the businesses of others by utilizing tactics that violate Amazon’s Terms of Service. This often takes the form of creating counterfeit products, failing to ship goods as promised, or hijacking Amazon listings. If you suspect malicious meddling, document the incidents and report those infringements to Amazon. When it comes to legitimate product complaints, attend to those quickly, effectively, and publicly. Make it right and show that you made it right.
Not sure if you’ve been targeted by black-hat tacticians? Check out our webinar with Jeff Cohen and Davide Nicolucci to find out. And be sure to download our comprehensive black-hat terms guide to learn all about what you should be on the lookout for.
Many times, you can connect a customer review with a particular order ID, but this isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, determining malicious meddling when it comes to negative reviews on Amazon requires some gut instinct and understanding of your category. If you have a new “just-launched seller” competitor on the scene in tandem with a high volume of negative reviews, it’s possible that something is awry. If you had a new shipment sent to FBA and get a high volume of negative reviews, it’s possible they’re legitimate claims and you may need to pull the shipment due to a defect. Regardless, any sign of a problem requires quick investigation and correction.
Step 2. Develop a process for responding.
Why? Respond to as much feedback as possible and always take the high road (yes, even with trolls). For positive reviews, gratitude can go just as far as customer service that makes things right when there’s a problem.
Develop a template for your responses. Even though it’s a response, “Thanks you for your review!” over and over doesn’t say much for your customer service (especially if you’re in a category like Consumables where you have repeat customers). Go the extra mile and understand that sincere communication is powerful. Speak to buyers as you’d like to be spoken to. Here’s a starter for both negative and positive reviews.
Responding to Positive Reviews:
- Express your delight that the buyer is having a good experience with your product.
- Show gratitude to the buyer for taking time to leave a review.
- Encourage brand loyalty and future purchases.
Responding to Negative Reviews:
- Respectfully apologize for any issues and express gratitude for bringing the problem to your attention.
- Make it right for the buyer.
- Investigate the problem, and if it is systemic, like part of your supply chain, rectify that ASAP.
How? Work with your team. Whether you are a small team where everyone pitches in for customer service or you have a full team dedicated to helping your buyers, get feedback! How would customers like to be treated? When it comes to the “public” face you put to the company, how are you going to speak to your buyers? Be consistent in supporting your brand but show some individuality and diversity of the people who make up your company.
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Step 3. Respond quickly and professionally (and without making it personal).
Why? Customer service is crucial to the success of a business. A complaint isn’t a personal attack so don’t take it personally or retaliate angrily. Go the positive route. Always.
In truth, shoppers are more likely to buy:
- Products that have a high number of verified recent reviews,
- Products from sellers that have a high seller feedback percentage.
- Brands that care about their customers and are perceived as customer-centric.
How? Use those templates. Once you get in the habit of writing the responses, it will come naturally. Respond to a variety of reviews in a variety of different ways. And yes, you absolutely may ask a buyer for a review so long as you do so in compliance with Amazon’s Terms of Service.
Step 4. Look for trends and patterns.
Why? Patterns in what customers are saying about your products may be features you should highlight in your listing or issues you may need to resolve. If you’ve had a recent high volume of negative reviews commenting on sizing issues, perhaps add some commentary to your listing explaining that the product runs a little larger than normal. If you’ve had a bunch of positive reviews come through highlighting the color vibrancy of the socks you sell, add vibrancy in your listing description.
I once met a seller who was upset that he had received some negative reviews and he wanted our help in getting them removed. (For the record, Seller Labs does not do review removal.) This customer was so passionate about his product and so sure that it was perfect that he wasn’t listening to the feedback from buyers. This was a learning opportunity where two of five buyers said the product was gritty instead of smooth as promised, but the seller wouldn’t believe it and wasn’t willing to make a change. Huge opportunity missed.
How? This one is a bit manual, but review your reviews! Whether you set aside time to do this daily, weekly, or monthly (though we recommend weekly), make sure you’re paying attention and reacting to what your customers have to say. Read closely and look for recurring themes. Your customers will tell you how to fix your product and which new features they want — but only if you listen.
With reviews being such an important part of the online shopping experience, it’s easy to get discouraged by receiving negative reviews on Amazon. Take them as a learning opportunity so that you can improve the experience for your buyers. And if you smell something fishy, don’t retaliate. Take it through the proper channels even if it takes a little time. Take the high road, stay compliant, and report those who degrade the integrity of the Amazon Marketplace.