Getting negative reviews on Amazon is just part of the normal course of business. No matter how great your product is or how carefully you nurture customer relationships, you will always get a few here and there. It’s not the end of the world and it can even be a good thing as long as you do your best to keep them to a minimum.
Here’s what negative reviews on Amazon mean for your business and what you can do to manage them so your business stays strong and grows even stronger.
Why You Need to Respond to Negative Reviews on Amazon
People put a lot of stock into whether or not others say your product is as good as your listing says it is. There are a lot of shifty sellers in the online world, and consumers have learned not to trust manufacturer descriptions. They rely heavily on reviews to make purchase decisions. They know that they can learn from the experiences of others rather than taking the risk themselves.
Negative reviews on Amazon are more than just the online version of customer testimonials, however. Reviews are also factored in by the retail giant’s algorithm when determining your organic product ranking.
Getting negative reviews is inevitable, so you’re going to have to deal with them if you want to maximize your product’s potential. If you have a lot of negative reviews on Amazon, customers are not going to give your product a chance. They don’t want to take the risk of buying what others have wasted their money on. This will further affect your product ranking, creating a snowball effect that could spin out of control.
Negative reviews on your product pages are not the end of sales for that product, however. There are steps that you can take to mitigate their impact and get back on track, if you take them seriously and apply them immediately.
Here’s how you can properly manage negative reviews on Amazon and turn the situation around to your benefit.
(1) Monitor Negative Reviews on Amazon
Don’t leave spotting negative reviews to chance. Whether you search for them manually throughout the day or use a tool to alert you of new negative reviews, the key is to find them quickly so you can deal with them promptly. This is vital because the longer they are up there in plain view of every browser, the bigger their negative impact will be.
The best option is any that will immediately notify you when a customer leaves a negative review on Amazon. This way, you can deal with it while that customer is still online, and have a ready response that anyone following that customer to your listing can see.
(2) Have Amazon Remove Inappropriate Negative Reviews
It’s not as easy to get Amazon to remove as it is to remove feedback. Amazon will do it, however, if the review doesn’t meet their guidelines. If you do find one that fits the bill, this option will not only quickly solve your problem, but will strike that low rating off your listing permanently.
As you scan for negative reviews on Amazon, look out for ones that contain profanity, any promotion of a competing product, a low rating without any reason given, or any other violation of Amazon’s review guidelines. In these cases, you can hit the “Report Abuse” button below the review to get Amazon to review it. Make sure you give your reason for reporting it in line with the guidelines and politely ask Amazon to deal with it.
Meantime, you should still leave a response to the review to soften its blow while Amazon considers its removal.
(3) Directly Respond to Negative Reviews
Never ignore a negative review on Amazon. It will not go away, and its impact will be far worse if you don’t deal with it. Moreover, there is also a right way to respond to bad reviews. Knowing what to say and how to say it makes a big difference.
You should always respond to negative reviews as quickly as humanly possible. Don’t wait for an unanswered review to sit there generating ill feeling among other potential customers who drop by your product page.
Moreover, respond promptly to show respect for the customer. They thought it was important enough to take the time to write out their views, so you need to respond appropriately. Treat that comment as an urgent matter that deserves your full attention.
The first words anyone sees apart from your brand name should be an apology. No matter how unreasonable you think the customer is being, always apologize for their experience. You don’t have to acknowledge that your product is worthless or whatever else they are saying if it isn’t true. You are simply acknowledging that the customer felt bad and you are sorry for that. You must affirm their feelings if you want to get anywhere with them.
An apology goes a long way to diffusing a potentially explosive situation. No matter what negative emotions prompted the review, you can lessen their impact with a simple and sincere apology. Along the same lines, never respond in a way that could add fuel to the fire. Remember that you are dealing with someone who is upset, and people who are upset are rarely thinking rationally and will not often take the time to try to understand what you meant.
Furthermore, customers don’t care to see things from your perspective because they just paid you for something that they now think was not worth their hard-earned cash. They are focused on their disappointment, and so should you be. Meet them where they are so you can avoid an argument and begin resolution.
This will also show potential customers that you will also put them first and make things right if they happen to have a bad experience, too. It boosts your chances of making another sale even after getting a negative review.
Your response should first show your brand presence. This means getting your logo onto your profile if you haven’t already done that. This way, the first thing that anyone sees about your response is that it’s officially from your brand. That lends it credibility and legitimacy and shows that you are professional and actively involved in each sale and customer relationship.
Your reply should also be a direct response to a customer’s comments. Show that customer and everyone else that you have taken the time to read through their comments and understand their concerns.
You may not be able to prepare for every possible eventuality – customers can be extremely fickle after all. You can, however, prepare for the more common issues, the ones that you can anticipate. For instance, if you sell apparel, you can prepare how you will respond to the wrong size being shipped out and to different degrees of physical damage to the item. If you sell liquid consumables, you can prepare to respond to complaints about broken containers and/or spilled contents.
Make it Right
Immediately after apologizing for the specific thing that upset the customer, always show that you want to make it right. The most important part of this is the offer itself, showing that customer and others who come after that you are going the extra mile.
If you don’t thoroughly understand the problem, you can still show that you are willing and eager to seek resolution. Show your concern as well by asking them to give you more information to help you resolve the issue in the way that will best satisfy them. And make it easy for them to contact you by telling them right on the response how they can do that.
Also let them know that you will be taking steps to try and reach out to them. This is important because you don’t want customers to feel like they have to make additional effort to get their problem solved. But on Amazon, customers can opt out of receiving certain types of messages, so you must at least say that you’re going to try.
If you say something in your listing, be sure that you can follow through. For instance, if you offer a money-back guarantee, you had better make certain that you keep your promise.
Note that you may not want to specify what you are going to do in response to a specific complaint. You should have a standard response to specific situations about what you’re going to offer, but don’t post it publicly. This is because others will likely expect the same from you, and this limits your flexibility and can cause more problems if you don’t treat others the same way.
Customers don’t want to see a formatted response. They want to know that you have personally gone through the review that they’ve taken the time to write up, and are responding in kind. Be professional but don’t talk like a machine. Keep it simple to show that you’re a real, honest person and that you’re sincere about making things right.
Keep it Private
You don’t want to open the discussion right there on the product page. If it turns ugly or you’re not able to solve things immediately, it will look bad. Remember, whatever you say will stay up there permanently, and this will make the impact of that negative review much worse. This is why you invite the customer to contact you to talk more about the issue.
(4) Contact the Customer
Immediately after responding to negative reviews, make every effort to reach out to the customers who left them. This is an important follow-through step that will make the public promise of resolution a personal reality.
Most customers will not come back to your page after a negative experience. This means that they are unlikely to see your answer to their review. But you have to do everything you can to at least show them that you are willing to resolve the situation. This is why you have to contact them in a more direct manner.
Most customers will appreciate this effort to compensate them for their negative experience. IF they haven’t already emailed you to ask you to solve the problem, then doing this may even be all that’s needed to have them go back to the page and change their review.
(5) Turn Negative Reviews to Your Advantage
This may sound counter-intuitive from the algorithm standpoint since Amazon targets a 100% positive review rate. Having all good reviews, however, does not look legitimate from the customer’s viewpoint. Today’s shoppers will almost always look for social proof of your product’s quality, but they also know that not everybody is going to like what you have to offer. And they also know that there’s always that one guy who’s just being mean.
If you get a few reviews here and there that are below 4 stars, don’t sweat it. In fact, embrace it. A product with only stellar reviews will be perceived as too good to be true. Customers will think that you’ve somehow gamed the system with fake reviews.
Room for Improvement
Sellers should always be happy when they get customer feedback. This is how they know where their product or service is lacking. The key is not to dwell on the negative review but to learn from it and make the necessary improvements to encourage more positive reviews moving forward.
Look at the reasons that customers are giving when the rate your product as below average. If there’s a recurring theme, then you know that you need to fix that right away. Whether that means setting things straight with your supplier or improving your packaging or some other action step, the point is to take immediate action to solve the problem.
Sometimes, a really bad review on Amazon can create so much hype about your product that sales actually increase. Everyone loves a scandal, and it can make people so curious that they just have to see for themselves. This also sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s absolutely grounded in fact.
Negative reviews on Amazon give you a chance to send a message. Use this opportunity to use your brand voice wisely. Responses to reviews are posted publicly, just as the reviews themselves are.
You want to use this chance to clearly communicate who you are as a brand as you make a sincere and polite attempt to correct whatever situation prompted the negative comment. It gives a face to the otherwise invisible brand behind the product, and you want that to be a strong reflection of your most positive brand attributes.
(6) Collect Positive Reviews
It’s never good to have a 1-star review sitting at the top of the list on your product page. Unfortunately, more often than not, it will stay there until a customer decides to write a new review – that is, if anyone buys the product after seeing that review.
But that’s why the above steps are structured the way they are – to encourage others to make the purchase despite this one customer’s bad experience. This isn’t just to keep the sales rolling, but to increase your chances of getting more reviews to cover up that one bad one.
As new, good reviews come in, the bad ones will get pushed further and further down the list and eventually out of sight.
Offer Only the Best
Prevention is always better than cure, so you should be working hard as a seller to provide only the best quality products and service to customers. This is particularly important on Amazon since your success on the marketplace is directly dependent on customer satisfaction.
If you work proactively to offer great products and service, you can significantly lower your chances of getting bad reviews and significantly raise your chances of getting good ones. This way, in the event that someone does go ahead and post a bad review that you can’t get removed, you will have lost of good ones to outshine it and make it look like that person was just having a bad day.
Follow Up with Past Customers
You really should already have an optimized follow-up email sequence to check in with customers and ask for reviews. But if you don’t, this is a great opportunity to do just that. Right now, you could really use a good review.
You can make offers of your products to customers – it’s perfectly normal and even encouraged on Amazon. But you must never do this in connection with a review. It’s against Amazon’s policies and an get you in big trouble. Along the same lines, agreeing to a refund where it sounds like you’re implying an exchange for a review is not allowed.
You can still ask for reviews, you just have to be very careful how you word your request. Simple is best, asking for an honest review. This means asking without making it sound like you only want good reviews. This includes asking customer to change their negative review.
Always keep anything that sounds like an offer separate from messages about reviews. Amazon sees any mention of a discount or promotion or free item in the same message as a review request as an attempt to buy a positive review or otherwise influence a customer’s review.
Use Amazon Vine
Joining the Amazon Vine program is a good way to get around the rules about incentivizing reviews. Vine allows you to give away free items. Good reviews in exchange are not guaranteed, however. It just gives you a better chance of accumulating reviews if you really need to push a bad one out of sight. If you have a good product, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting bad reviews.
You will get negative reviews on Amazon at some point, but you can take steps to make sure they hurt you as little as possible. The bottom line is good customer service. After you diffuse any bad situations, you need to make improvements so that you are actively pursuing customer satisfaction from both the angles of solving issues and making sure they never happen again.