Say you are shopping on Amazon and you find the perfect product to buy. But you notice that the seller offering the product has 90 percent positive feedback. Yes, one customer in 10 leaving feedback for this seller is frustrated, disappointed, or upset at the seller for some reason. Do you hesitate to make that purchase, and seek another seller or product instead?
Now imagine you are that seller with 90 perfect positive feedback. What are you doing to manage negative feedback? One of the critical aspects of being a seller in good standing on Amazon is having an overwhelming level of positive feedback. To address the issue of how to handle negative feedback on Amazon, it is important to understand first the broader importance of feedback to the survival of the Amazon seller.
Who Gets the Buy Box?
The average feedback score is important for Buy Box purposes. Amazon sellers improve their likelihood of winning the Buy Box when their average feedback score increases above 90 percent, 95 percent, and 98 percent — see FeedVisor’s “Buy Box Bible” study for more details.
But the seller’s number of pieces of feedback relative to the seller’s total number of orders is also important, as Amazon tracks to see that a seller is continuing to get feedback as its orders increase. And if a seller sees a sudden spike in sales without a corresponding increase in positive feedback, Amazon may suspend the seller’s account to make sure that the seller hasn’t dumped a bunch of problematic product quickly.
I have been asked many times by large, long-term sellers if they need to keep collecting feedback. The answer is absolutely “yes.” So, every Amazon seller needs to put in place a formal process for (a) collecting feedback, and (b) managing the feedback it gets.
A seller may have its own process for collecting feedback from customers — e.g., sending out emails soliciting feedback a few days after the purchase. Or the seller may be using a provider that offers feedback services, like Feedbackgenius.com, Feedbackfive.com, or Bqool.com.
External providers typically offer user-friendly, inexpensive tools that allow a seller to “set up and forget” the process of having to ask for feedback. These solution providers offer many professional templates that allow a seller to send customers an inviting request to provide quick feedback. Each and every seller on Amazon should implement a feedback solicitation process immediately, whether handled internally or by an external solution provider.
Understanding Negative Feedback
Negative feedback can be a challenge for Amazon sellers. It’s important for sellers to understand that customers have never met you. So, consider their only experience with you.
- The fulfillment process of their order. Customers will associate the time it takes to ship and the time in transit with you – which is why it’s wise to utilize Fulfillment by Amazon when you can.
- The product they receive. If your customer receives a faulty or counterfeit pair of speakers that was co-mingled by FBA, he could associate that product with you. The assumption will be that you sell a defective or knockoff product.
- The communication they’ve had with you, about the order or the product. This should be your time to shine, and show the customer that you are happy to be selling her a product — because you should be. Unfortunately, many sellers respond blandly, untimely, and without precision. Wouldn’t this frustrate you? Make sure that you treat your customer as if she were spending a million dollars.
So, considering the customer’s perspective helps to understand why it’s so easy for buyers to give negative feedback under the cloak of anonymity. They have never met you. It’s up to you to make a positive impression that will establish a small relationship, to reduce the chance of negative feedback.
Negative feedback should be an occasion for problem solving — not frustration or panic. There’s little value in thinking of negative feedback as unfair.
Benefits of Negative Feedback
Instead, looking at this type of feedback as a symptom of flaws and friction within your business provides you with an opportunity to improve. Correct those flaws and remove any friction from your selling process, making it easier for others to purchase and re-purchase.
How do you find out about these flaws? Consider the following two methods.
Review your reviews. Are there recurring issues with your product or fulfillment services that customers complain about? Has your average feedback rating recently declined?
One of my clients had exceptional product feedback since the launch of her product on Amazon. She used a number of different manufacturers and consistently received quality goods. After a change to a new supplier, however, her product feedback became increasingly less positive and customers even mentioned that the product didn’t last as long as before. Many of them wondered if the seller had changed her manufacturing process or was using a different manufacturer.
It wasn’t until I pointed out to the seller the declining trend of her feedback that she even questioned the product’s quality. This led to a thorough examination of all of her inventory from the new supplier, and she moved to another manufacturer quickly enough before the biggest chunk of her business, her wholesale customers, started to notice, complain, or return inventory.
Remember that your product reviews can be a measuring stick, helping to ensure that you’re selling products people appreciate and want.
Ask customers who give negative and neutral feedback. If you start to receive more negative feedback than usual, or if you can’t figure out why that small percentage just doesn’t like your product when everyone else seems to enjoy it, ask those customers who provide the negative feedback. Amazon both permits and recommends this sort of inquiry. Understanding why customers don’t like the product or weren’t satisfied with their buying experience helps you and Amazon. It gives you the following opportunities.
- Resolve any issues with the customer before he leaves negative feedback. Ask a customer for feedback and give him a way to contact you first. If he has a problem, he is more likely to communicate with you than to simply leave negative feedback. Many customers aren’t really aware how to contact a third-party seller, so this proactive approach reduces their frustration.
- Make changes to your product line or fulfillment services. If there’s something about your product or fulfillment service that causes customers unrest, consider changing one or both.
- Clarify product images or descriptions. Providing better images or more descriptive text in the title, bullet points, and descriptions can reduce negative feedback and product returns. This goes back to seeing things through the customer’s eyes. If your blouse is labeled scarlet and it’s actually red, that’s important to shoppers.
Customer feedback can help you identify where your product detail pages need more precise language or which images are unclear. If the product images or descriptions on the detail page are not contributed by you, file a ticket with seller support, explaining how the current product detail page content is inaccurate, and confusing, or upsetting to customers.
Removing Negative Feedback
The are two ways to remove negative feedback.
Ask Amazon to remove. The easier removal method, if the situation allows for it, is removal by Amazon. That is actually a misnomer, as Amazon does not remove negative feedback. Instead Amazon will strike through the feedback and will not include the star rating in your average seller feedback score. But shoppers will still see stricken feedback.
Additionally, Amazon will remove feedback only if it meets certain criteria, which I’ve listed below. If your negative seller-related feedback falls under these reasons, submit a ticket to Amazon. To do this, collect the order number of the feedback in question, and then go to “contact seller support.” Within the “customers and orders” tab, click on “customer feedback” and enter the order number, then click on “search.” Now select from the list of available reasons, which includes the following.
- The feedback is for an FBA item and pertains entirely to customer service or the fulfillment process. (In these cases, Amazon will strike through the score and add an explanatory note.)
- The entire feedback comment is a product review.
- The feedback contains profanity.
- The feedback includes personal information, such as email addresses, full names, and telephone numbers.
- The feedback complains about prices.
Clearly cite one of the reasons and provide any additional details in the “additional information” box, which will help Amazon in its evaluation. Upon deciding whether to remove the feedback, Amazon will notify you via the email address you have listed.
Asking Amazon to remove the feedback is the most efficient. If Amazon will not remove, then work directly with your customer.
Ask customer to remove. The harder approach is to ask the customer to remove her feedback. You can do this by messaging the customer directly through buyer-seller messaging service. Find the order number for the feedback in question, then navigate to “order management” and bring up that particular order. Click on the customer’s name, which will be hyperlinked in blue and underlined.
Maintain a professional attitude in all communications and stay focused on addressing the customer’s concerns. It’s okay to apologize, more than once, if necessary. Consider offering an order adjustment or a refund. You may contact the customer more than once, but you do not want to be accused of harassment, quid-pro-quo agreements, or attempted feedback manipulation — all of which are violations of Amazon’s policies. You can’t nag customers about negative feedback. That said, it helps to be resourceful, and some sellers have developed distinctive ways to make amends.
Many sellers ask, “What’s the difference between offering money to the customer to change her review and giving her a refund to get her negative feedback removed? Aren’t these the same thing, an attempt to manipulate the customer to alter feedback in exchange for an incentive?”
The difference in Amazon’s eyes — and the reason this method works for so many sellers — is how you go about it. Your goal is to make the customer happy. If providing a partial or full refund makes him happy, Amazon is happy. Then, after having made the customer happy, it’s acceptable to ask him to remove his negative feedback.
Offering the customer a refund in exchange for changing feedback is an easy way to get in trouble. If you are uncomfortable with this sort of requesting process, companies like Feedbackrepair.com can help you.