Navigating Amazon feedback can feel like a minefield – “doing this” is a policy violation, or “not explaining that” may result in a disgruntled customer. Last week we talked about the basic guidelines regarding feedback, and later posted an infographic to serve as a visual guide. This week we’ll talk about the dreaded negative feedback- why it happens, how to avoid it, and how to go about getting rid of it.
Even though Amazon considers its 12-month turnaround of feedback is a gift of sorts, many sellers don’t have the luxury of letting a negative review stay that long.
When it comes to feedback, the best way to deal with it is, first and foremost, is to prevent it.
Get Ahead of the Game!
The most frequent reason a buyer leaves negative feedback is due in some part to the shipping process. With Christmas looming, where shoppers will be frazzled, it’s especially important to efficiently communicate and execute this portion of the online shopping experience for your buyers. In order to prevent any confusion with your product delivery process that could lead to a complaint, follow these steps.
Shipping v Delivery
Make sure you set very clear expectations regarding your shipping process, and how it relates to actual delivery time. If your store page states you ship in 1-2 days, be sure to explain that means the item leaves your possession – and heads out to the mail carrier – in 1-2 days. Some customers may confuse this as a promise of when the package will be delivered to their doorstep, and are upset when that is not realized. If after shipment, delivery takes another 5-7 business days, be clear about this. You may even add both time frames together, just so customers are aware of the total amount of days it will take until their item arrives. If it makes sense to set proper expectations for packages going through customs or any other irregular possible delays – do it!
This applies to all marketplaces, but it’s something that can prevent negative feedback. Take clear, well-lit photos of your products. If there are any details that could affect purchase (either positively or negatively, such as a dent or intricate details that add to it), document them and take a close-up of exactly what you’re trying to describe in the product details. If you must use the images imported with the product UPC and the item in any way varies from the pictures, then you must be transparent about this in step 3. If you are able to upload the actual product image showing the variance, then that is best. Use the product description to its fullest advantage – for both you and the customer.
This is your opportunity to tell buyers every minute detail about your product- if it’s a table, what wood is it made of? If it’s clothing, is the fabric breathable? Does the color fade? Are there any discrepancies between the UPC based photo, and the specific item you are selling? Is there a story behind the product? Can you invent a humorous story to tell? These details matter and create a sense of humanity. It becomes harder to leave a nasty note when you know there are human beings behind the sale! Tell the customer everything. The more you disclose, the better you can arm yourself against buyers who are unhappy with a purchase.
Another method to prevent a negative review is to respond to all customer emails within 24 hours (try to shoot for a 2 hour window if possible – that’s what we do at ecomdash). This may seem like common sense, and for many of you sellers, you already know how to do this impeccably. If a customer reaches out to you after receiving the product, it is likely due to a concern with their order. By responding quickly and with every intention of solving the issue fairly, you communicate to them that their concern is yours as well. If they feel like you are on “their side” so to speak, they will not feel the itch to leave a negative review. We suggest setting a policy for your business that you can post on your store page- something that lets the customer know that within 2 hours (during business hours), you will get back to them.
If you’ve followed these steps, and you still find yourself in a situation where you need to have negative feedback removed, don’t fret. Here’s what to do next.
Reach Out Immediately!
Contact the customer as soon as you see the feedback. Make sure you remove all emotion from the correspondence. This can be difficult – we know that you care about your business, and it can be hurtful to have words jeopardize your success. But if you become emotional during the exchange, even if it is only to express sorrow, you can make the customer uncomfortable, and they will be less cooperative. Email templates are helpful with this, because they are premade before an issue arises in which you may feel emotionally charged. Contact them first via email and offer to correct the situation as appropriate.
Use the Phone
If they don’t respond through email, call them. Say you’re so-and-so with “the product they bought.” They won’t remember your store name, but they will remember the book, vase, or any other item they ordered that didn’t meet their expectations. Work with them to find a solution, and once you do, it’s fitting to kindly request an update to the negative review.
Send a Letter
If, after working through the above suggestions, they have not edited the negative review affecting your ratings, contact them the old fashioned way – snail mail. Send a thoughtful (yet professional) handwritten request. It’s very non-confrontational and reminds them of all the actions you took to make things right. They may have simply forgotten about the bad review, and will promptly login to fix it for you at that time…you never know.
Regardless of where you are in the process of getting rid of negative feedback, we encourage sellers to always appeal it. Even if you are denied, you still have the above suggestions to guide you through asking the customer to remove it.
Bear in mind, we’ve heard that you have a better chance of winning an appeal if you’re using FBA (or use other Amazon paid services), or the customer bought through Prime. Escalate each case to a supervisor, and submit it for review. You really only have a few days to successfully ask a customer to remove feedback, but Amazon allows 60 days to appeal. If the negative feedback is related to shipping or delivery (which, as we found out, they often are), you are 50% more likely to win an appeal.
We understand why you value your metrics deeply – in an online realm where there is no face-to-face, that ranking is your entire reputation. We will continue to work through managing customer feedback and how to earn more positive reviews in upcoming posts. For more information on the guidelines, please see our last post on the rules and regulations of feedback on Amazon.
Stay tuned for more tips, and rest assured that we care about helping you maintain and improve your reputation. Don’t settle for 98% positive feedback – always shoot for 100%.