Social proof – other buyers’ experiences as shown through their reviews – has a huge impact on Amazon users. That’s one reason getting your first dozen or so reviews is really important when you launch a product.
But if you get a bad review, it’s a strike against you. It doesn’t matter that the buyer used the product upside down, didn’t realize it had to have batteries inserted, or just wanted a different color – the damage is done.
Or is it?
If you’re a brand registered seller (and you should be), then the answer is “not necessarily”. Although Amazon won’t let you comment on the review, as it used to, it allows you to contact the buyer for any review that gives you fewer than four stars.
First, though, read the review. Make sure it is legitimate. If it looks wrong (for instance, if it refers to a counterfeit of your product, not your actual product) you can query it with Amazon.
If it’s a legitimate review, there may be something wrong that it could be very simple to set right. For instance, they have the wrong color or size product – you can offer a refund. Or maybe, although they thought they were ordering an orange dinner set, they actually ordered pink – perhaps one of the kids called just as they were about to change their choice.
Now, that’s their mistake, and you can point out (gently!) that actually they did make a mistake. You might decide that you’d still like to offer a refund, or send them the color they really wanted as a free gift, and say that you hope they’ll do business with you again. If you get it right, chances are they may go back and adjust their review. Whatever you do, don’t make them feel stupid – that’s not going to get results. Show them that you feel bad about the situation, and want to make things work.
Of course, if it’s your mistake, or if it was Amazon’s mistake, or if the product was damaged, you’ll need to sort something out. In this case, you should also recontact the customer a few days later to see whether the refund or the correct item has arrived, and ask if they are satisfied with the service they’ve received. Again, say you really hope they’ll do business with you again, in a nice friendly way.
By nudging them, even if you don’t actually mention the review, you may put it in their minds that it would be good idea to revisit that review and edit it to say “Great customer service sorted out my problem”.
Sometimes, customers don’t know how to use a product. One example is where there is tape or protective covering that needs to be removed. If a customer has this kind of issue, you may be able to help them. Again, once their problems have been solved, ask if they are happy with the customer service, and it’s always worth asking them for their ideas on how the product could be improved or the instructions made easier to understand. They’ll probably be flattered to be asked.
If you have recurring issues being picked up in reviews, it’s worth trying to address them. For instance, one dehumidifier I noticed has a number of poor reviews saying it’s a great design except for a fiddly pump cover which is really difficult to use. If I sold that product, I know what would be in my product specification for a fresh order!
If issues about unboxing, assembling or using a product recur, the answer may be to address the issues in the Q&A on your product page, in the photos, or – next time you order inventory – on the product packaging or in a leaflet included with the product.
And sometimes, the problem is that people don’t know how to work out what size of product they need. For instance, working out the square footage of a room for a dehumidifier, or trying to define whether their dog is ‘medium’ or ‘small’ to order a carrier, can be tricky – so give some help. For the dog carrier, you could include an infographic showing different breeds and which carrier they use – much clearer than using dimensions and weight.
And by the way, while this piece is about how to deal with bad reviews, don’t forget that what you really need is a load of good ones – so remember to use the automatic email follow-up. Just say “I’d love to find out how you got on with the product, just letting me know with a product review would mean a lot to me.” Don’t ask for a good review – just ask for a review, and let your customers know you care about what they have to say.