Why Amazon Reviews are so Important
Most vendors already know that reviews can make or break your Amazon business. In fact, 88% of consumers have stated they incorporate reviews into their decision-making process. You can't ignore a statistic like that.
Negative reviews look bad, but that's only the half of it. They also have a huge impact on your Amazon organic search ranking. Products with better reviews are favored by Amazon's search engine, which means they're going to have higher visibility, higher authority and, ultimately, more click-throughs.
This point should be pertinent enough, but it’s all the more vital when you consider that 30% of Amazon’s customers will click on the first product that appears on their search, and less than 20% of users will even bother to visit the 2nd page of search results. [SOURCE]
At this point, it's worth clarifying what we mean when we say a "negative review". Most would be under the impression that a negative review on Amazon is a 1 or 2-star review. Right? Wrong. Unfortunately for you, Amazon considers anything less than a 4 star review to be negative when it comes to search ranking. Needless to say, the odds aren't in the seller's favor here.
What's worse is that marketing agencies have also started using Amazon reviews to promote their client’s brand and/or discredit their client’s competition.
New products, in particular, can be hugely impacted by negative reviews, making it even more important to keep a close eye on your reviews in the immediacy of a product’s launch.
So the moral of the story is that it's essential for every Amazon seller to have some sort of practice or strategy in place for dealing with reviews, whether those reviews are damning or glowing.
This comprehensive guide is intended to equip you with that strategy. Whilst we can’t guarantee you’ll definitely be able to get a negative review removed, we can promise that this guide will give you the best way to deal with both negative and positive Amazon reviews.
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
Okay, so you’ve received a bad review on Amazon. It’s a horrible feeling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world. The sequence of steps we’re about to talk you through should be followed in the order we give them and as soon as you’re aware the negative review has been left.
Why the rush? Well, because if you can’t get Amazon to remove the offending review, you’re going to have to try and persuade the reviewer to change or remove their review instead. Take it from us: it’s far easier to appeal to the better nature of a reviewer when they’re still thinking about the product. If you leave it too long, you’ll find they’ve probably lost interest in revisiting.
Here is a simple version of the steps you need to take to remove negative Amazon product reviews:
- See if Amazon will remove the review
- Reach out to the customer and win them over with amazing customer service
- Respond to the review publicly if steps 1 and 2 fail
Knowing this process is absolutely fundamental to establishing yourself as a successful Amazon seller.
Let’s break these steps down.
1. Getting Reviews Removed by Amazon
We'll be upfront with you: Amazon does not remove many reviews. There are negative Amazon reviews left on great products every single minute, but if Amazon made it their mission to remove them all, they'd lose that all-important consumer trust. Remember, it's that consumer trust that keeps customers shopping on Amazon in the first place.
But it does happen. Amazon has been known to remove reviews, which is why it should always be the first step in your quest to mitigate the damage of a negative review. When do they remove reviews? When the review violates one of their guidelines. The most common violations are:
- Obscene language
- Using personally identifiable information (names, numbers, URLs)
- Reviewer advertising another product
- Details about availability, price or alternative ordering/delivery options
- User reviewed the wrong product
- Buyer writes multiple negative reviews
- Spiteful remarks
It's worth reading Amazon's guidelines because there are more violations than the ones above. It would be a huge shame to let a rule-breaking review ruin the reputation of your product. If you believe a negative review is guilty of a violation, you need to take the following steps (again, remember that time is of the essence here. Don't put it off until tomorrow!):
- Go to the review
- Click on “Report Abuse” - below the review
- (Optional but recommended) Email “firstname.lastname@example.org” and provide the following:
- Name/pseudonym of the reviewer
- ASIN of product
- Date and time of review
- Link to review
- Identify how the user is violating Amazon’s guidelines
See, that wasn't too painful now, was it?
Some of you might be thinking "thanks, Seller's Suite! Now I can do this for EVERY negative Amazon review I get!". Sorry to burst the proverbial bubble, but no you can't. Amazon is far too clever for that. They have an internal seller reputation rating, used to gauge the trustworthiness of your seller profile. If you start reporting too regularly, your reputation is going to drop faster than you can say "why are you banning my account?".
Amazon is usually pretty prompt about removing reviews if they agree with your case. They understand the impact of a negative review, so expect to know whether your appeal has been successful within a few days.
If it transpires that the user hasn’t violated any rules - or Amazon is refusing to remove it for a different reason - you’ll need to move onto step 2 of our 3-part master plan: contacting the customer.
2. Customer Revision/Removal
The first thing to know about contacting a reviewer is that you’re a lot more likely to attract their attention my messaging them directly, rather than responding to their comment publicly - that's a last resort. The second thing you need to know about contacting a reviewer is that identifying their specific account isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Amazon’s review system allows reviewers to create their own nickname. It’s the nickname you’ll see over their review, which means if they don’t create one at all, we’re only left with “Amazon Customer”.
So if a reviewer either fails to use a nickname or uses a nickname completely unassociated with their actual name, it's going to be incredibly difficult for you to pinpoint the customer that left the review in the first place (unless, of course, you've only had one customer). No name means no order details, and no order details mean no opportunity to get in touch with them.
But don’t lose heart yet. Where there’s a will, there might be a way. The following method requires some detective work, but it can help you to find the necessary details of your anonymous reviewer. Disclaimer: it'll only work for reviews that have a "verified purchase" label.
1) Start by going to the negative review that you want removed and click on the reviewers name (seen in red).
2) You'll then be taken to the users review profile page.
3) Here you can search through the users "Wish List" and sometimes you'll see the reviewers real name. Not always, but it's fast and easy enough that it's worth checking out.
4) Once you have their name, now you have to find their order. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't allow you to search orders by the buyers name, but Seller's Suite does and we'll show you how.
5) In Seller's Suite, you can go to the "Orders" page and search by buyer name. If you'd prefer to export your orders into Excel for a deeper dive you can simply download your orders.
6) If you've made it here, then you've found your angry reviewer!
Ok, so you’ve managed to find the specific customer that left the review.
Awesome. We need to approach them like we’d approach a deer in the wild: the last thing we want to do is scare them away.
Don’t burst in all guns blazing. If your opening line is “please remove the review you just left!” it’s probably not going to do you any favors and it's against Amazon's ToS.
Instead, we’d recommend asking them whether or not they’re enjoying the product. Angry customers are always quicker to respond than satisfied customers, so it probably won’t be long until you hear from them.
At this point, you can decide on an appropriate action. Perhaps you offer a replacement, perhaps you offer a partial refund. Amazon allows you to refund partially if you feel the customer is justified in their grievances. What you don’t do is mention their negative review.
It might feel counterproductive, but Amazon values good customer service, not pandering in order to improve your reviews. Your job is to turn an angry customer into a happy, appreciative customer. Once you’ve succeeded in that, then you can send them an email.
That email might go a like:
We hope that we have been able to resolve all of your issues with our product.
We work very hard to make a great product and make our customers happy. If you do not feel that we have met your standards, even though we didn't at first, please let us know by sending us an email.
Again, it's against Amazon's new ToS to ask your reviewer to revise or remove their review, but if you've managed to satisfy your customer, you stand a very good chance of them removing/revising their review.
3) Comment Publicly - The Last Resort
If the first 2 steps have failed, it’s important to at least acknowledge the review in a public setting. Whilst you might feel doing so will only worsen matters, a review that has had a well thought out response is almost always going to be more positively received by other customers.
Commenting allows you to give your opinion and provide other readers with the all-important context that might've lead to the negative review being left in the first place.
Very simply, a seller has two options when it comes to responding to a negative review: they can either validate the review and offer an apology, or they can argue that the review isn’t justified.
If you don’t agree with a review, it’s worth ensuring you’ve given step 1 of our strategy a proper go. It doesn’t always work, but genuinely unfair reviews will violate Amazon’s guidelines more regularly than you might expect.
Assuming steps 1 and 2 have been thoroughly exhausted, remaining polite and sticking to the facts is an absolute must. You’re probably angry, upset and worried, but if you’re going to acknowledge a review in a very public forum, your emotions need to be calmly placed to one side. It’s unlikely you’ll win over the upset customer, but you might well win over future customers who are concerned by the negative review.
If you think the review is valid, however, it’s important to ensure you include the following in your response:
- An apology
- An explanation of what you intend to do differently to ensure it doesn’t happen again
Never, under any circumstances, should you insult the reviewer or enter into a debate with them. You might be tempted, but remember that doing so will only serve to multiply the negative impact of the review. Resist digging yourself an even deeper hole.
To reiterate, it’s incredibly important to respond to negative reviews. Amazon does a great job of showing whether a review has had a response (check out the picture below) and if 88% of purchasers say they refer to the reviews before making a purchase, your response has an incredibly good chance of being seen by potential customers. Be polite, factual and respectful and you might well win them over.
Positive Reviews = Free Promotional Opportunity
Sellers often overlook this, but commenting on positive reviews is a great way to promote your brand and your products.
Has a customer given one of your products a glowing review? Why not introduce them to another product they might like? It’s not against Amazon’s Terms of Service to upsell your products in response to your customer’s reviews and they could get seen by hundreds of prospective customers.
Amazon even provides you with the tools to promote your products with an internal link to your recommended product. This is how you do it:
1) Go to the review in question and click on "Comment".
2) Promote your product by clicking on "Insert product link" and enter the link to your product and then Amazon does the rest.
That's 100% free, promotional marketing right there!
Negative reviews happen. As a successful Amazon seller, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to ensure every customer has a 5 star experience, no matter how hard you might try. Sometimes there are aspects of a sale that are completely out of your control, and sometimes customers have unreasonable or unrealistic expectations.
Whatever the reason for your negative review, it’s important to carry out the above procedure as promptly and politely as possible. Remember, an unanswered negative review does a lot more damage than a review that has either been removed, remedied or responded to.
Something to think about...
You can only respond to a negative review if you know you’ve got one in the first place. Seller’s Suite can notify you the moment you receive a negative review, empowering you to act as quickly as possible. We’ll also save template responses for you, extracting the emotion from the situation and enabling you to respond efficiently and effectively.
Ultimately, your time is precious. Don’t spend it agonizing over negative reviews when our platform was built to make dealing with them so darn easy.