How do you respond to feedback on your e-commerce products?
If handled properly, negative feedback can be an opportunity for strong customer service and product growth.
Reviews are a critical part of your business. They provide social proof to prospective purchasers who want to know more about your product. Negative reviews damage your search optimization, conversion, and loyalty rates, while positive reviews help you close sales, grow your business, improve your seller rank, and win Amazon’s Buy Box.
How can you overcome the negative reviews?
There is a three-step process to handling complaints or criticisms of your product: listen, reply, and respond.
Don’t respond immediately after receiving a review or complaint. You want to first take time to hear and understand what the customer is saying.
Consider the source.
There will be customers who complain about your products simply for the sake of complaining. You’ll often find “repeat offenders” who consistently leave negative reviews on all products they purchase. You can pinpoint these reviewers if they seem to be using harsh or damaging language without providing real or legitimate criticism.
For example, you may not want to take seriously a review that reads: “This is the worst product ever! It didn’t even work!”
Although these negative reviewers exist, they typically aren’t the majority. In most cases, your customers purchase your product because they want to use it. If they are leaving a negative review, it’s likely because they are frustrated that the product they received is not what they expected.
These reviews provide constructive criticism about the product. For example: “This product wasn’t the right color” or “The strap fell off after I wore it twice.”
More often than not, a negative review is a response to unmet expectations.
You can also understand the legitimacy of the complaint by comparing it with other reviews. If customers are repeatedly complaining about similar parts of your product, you likely have a defect in the product.
For example, you’ve received ten customer complaints about how the shoes you sell are undersized. It’s likely that your shoes are mislabeled or undersized.
However, if you get ten reviews that your shoes “fit perfectly” and one review that your shoes are undersized, that customer may have simply ordered the wrong size. This doesn’t mean you want to disregard their review, but it will change the way you respond as a company. (You’ll want to offer to send them another size, but you may not need to talk to the manufacturer about sizing.)
Respond in a timely manner.
Part of “listening” is simply taking time to breathe. Most people don’t respond well to negative feedback—no matter what it is. Give yourself some time to calm down, so you can respond from a less emotional place.
Don’t take too long to cool off, though. You want to reply within the first 24 hours for strong customer service.
You’ve taken time to consider the source and legitimacy of the review. This will help you better understand how to reply to the customer’s complaint.
If the customer wrote a review on your e-commerce website or Amazon product listing, you can comment publicly. When responding, remember that other potential purchasers and customers will see your response.
Focus on providing a solution. Never blame or accuse the customer.
We recommend replying something like this:
“We’re so sorry to hear about your experience with this product. We have sent you a private message to offer a fast and attractive solution.”
This tells the customer that you understand and will respond to about their concern. It also shows other potential customers that your brand cares about customer satisfaction.
In fact, some customers report that their feelings about a negative review are minimized when they see that a business has responded to the complaint in a positive way.
Responding to negative reviews from a strong customer service standpoint can actually improve your brand loyalty and conversion rate.
Now you should send the customer a private message.
If the product review is on Amazon, you’ll send it through Amazon’s messaging system. Do not message them off Amazon, even if you somehow have access to their personal information. You want to ensure that Amazon has access to this message exchange if a claim gets more serious. This will show that you tried to rectify the situation before the customer made a formal complaint.
If the review was on your own website, send the customer an email. Like Amazon, this email can be used as proof for future complaints or exchanges. Write the email as though you were being monitored. Someone could share a picture of a negative email you send, and it could drastically damage your business. Focus on creating a solution.
To simplify this process, you may want to create a template that you use to reply to customer concerns.
Here’s an example of one of the templates we use:
Hi [personalize name here] -
We saw your review of our product. We are so sorry to hear your experience hasn’t met expectations. We would love to expedite a replacement product to you and offer a 10% discount for your trouble.
We look forward to hearing how we can best meet your concerns,
[Insert name of an individual in business to make it more personal.]
Keep in mind, though, that different complaints call for different responses. The above template would work well if their product was defective or broke easily. However, if they wrote a comment that the item was not as described, you may instead want to offer a discount or refund.
Typical options for rectifying the situation include offering:
- A refund
- A partial refund
- A replacement of the same product
- A different product, price-matched
- A discount for use with future products
- Reduced fees for returns (no restocking or shipping fees)
P.S. In a response, never apologize for the product or say “you’re right.” This can put you in legal hot water in some cases. Instead, try to apologize for the customer’s experience. This does not place any blame on the product or business.
Focus on service.
Remember that every negative complaint is an opportunity to excel at customer service. If you are attentive to a consumer’s concern, you can drastically change their view of your company. They may have had a bad experience with your product—but they can still have a great experience with your brand. Think of your reply as a targeted advertising tactic.
This brand experience is what defines the success of your business.
Fix the review.
After solving the customer’s concern, you can ask them to revise or remove their comment. If they won’t, you can also file a complaint with Amazon to get the comment removed. (However, Amazon rarely responds to these complaints on a consistent basis. It’s best to work with the customer directly.)
Learn more about how to react to unfavorable Amazon Reviews with Sellics.
You’ve addressed the customer directly, but now you want to consider what the review means for your product and business.
What can you learn or gain from the review?
If you are consistently receiving negative reviews about your product specs, it might be time to reevaluate your product.
Update your product listing.
In a number of cases, complaints will be less about a defective product and more about the expectations of that product. For example, a customer thought they were getting a clear glass mug but they received a frosted glass mug. This isn’t a defect in the product but a weakness in the marketing of the product.
If you see reviews that talk about “unmet expectations,” you might want to update your product listing to better reflect your product.
It’s not unheard of for a business to update their product listing and add the phrase: “Version 2.0” or “New and Improved Design.” This shows customers that the previous negative reviews may not be relevant anymore.
Talk to Seller’s Choice about creating compelling, relevant copy that will sell your products without misrepresentation.
Cut your losses.
When should you cut your losses and pull or recall your inventory?
You should always recall inventory if the product is genuinely defective, like it is potentially harmful or a choking hazard.
You’ll also want to pull your product if you have an unusually high return rate because of a concern in the product. For example, you sell T-shirts and the left sleeve is longer than the right sleeve. This isn’t harmful or dangerous, but your customers keep complaining and returning it. You might want to scrap the rest of this inventory to avoid the high cost of returns, restocking, and warehousing.
If you are continuously getting reviews about a defective product, determine if these products all came from the same batch at your supplier. If so, you may want to recall or trash that inventory. Work with your manufacturer to fix the concern or consider working with a new supplier.
Moving forward, learn from that experience. If the product batch was defective, you may need to implement quality inspection processes in your factory. If the product was not as implied, you may need to focus on updating your product listing and marketing details. If the product didn’t arrive on time, you may need to offer different shipping options.
Use reviews as learning opportunities in order to minimize financial expenditures and customer service complaints.
Improve your positive reviews.
Negative reviews will happen. But you don’t want negative reviews to be the majority. This can damage search optimization, visibility, conversion, ability to win the Buy Box, and more. You want a majority of positive reviews to show loyal social proof to customers.
Create an after-sales email marketing campaign to flood your listing with positive reviews that will help you optimize.
Responding to negative reviews is an important marketing tactic.