How to Manage Negative Product Reviews on Amazon

If you are like most budding Amazon sellers out there, you're concerned about your product launch, but most importantly how to ensure you get those reviews you need to build up your product's social proof.

Build trust with your customers by communicating with them at the moment they buy with an email sequence, contact your customers to solve their problems and create win-wins, and report reviews that are against Amazon's ToS.

In this post, we'll cover a few topics surrounding a good Amazon product launch strategy, as well as take a look and some key factors in getting those 5-star reviews, and even what to do in the event you get a negative review, so buckle up!

The Importance of Building Trust Building and maintaining your customer's trust is tantamount to having a successful product long-term. That is why it is equally important to plan your product launch carefully by following a few simple rules.

  1. Use Accurate Descriptors - You product photos and bullets should accurately describe your product's appearance and show details surrounding the important key factors for a customer to make a purchase. For example, if your product is a specific fit or shrinks when washed, be sure to mention how to best care for your product somewhere on the product page and definitely within the product's packaging.

  2. Pay Attention to Your Photos - One of the most common issues with appearance has to do with the overall color that appears on the listing which might not be the same when the customer unboxes it. When using software to fix photo issues, sometimes brightening the subject can skew the color, which may make the product appear more vibrant than it is in real life, leading to a potentially bad experience for a customer who has fallen in love with that specific color.

  3. Don't Lie About Your Product - Don't make sweeping arguments within your sales copy to trick your customers into making a purchase. Don't promise something that you cannot deliver with your product. If your product quantity is only 1 in the package, don't put multiples in your photos, even if your competitors do.

  4. Be Responsive - When customers ask questions about your product before purchase, answer quickly and with as much information as possible, as this will allow you to put in valuable content that you wouldn't otherwise be able to put in, and give you a chance to sell to that customer and to all other customers with a similar question.

  5. Grow from Your Mistakes - Everyone, even the most successful people make mistakes, and this is true even with products. Perhaps your product has multiple pieces, but something was missing in one of the packages. If the customer is unhappy about that, use this situation as a place to really shine through with your customer service. You'll show how much your customers mean to you simply by making it right, but if you show that through your replies to critical reviews, the whole world will see how important your customer's satisfaction is.

Ratings Rule the World

Everything about today's world seems to revolve around a ratings system. People want to know what others think about something before they make their own judgements. We seek validation in many ways by asking others for their approval, but that is a much broader subject for a different day. Let's talk about Amazon's ratings system instead. Amazon's reviews algorithm has proven to be a considerable sticking point for most sellers because we all know that a product with 5 stars will earn far more sales over a similar product with a lower score. This can be the deciding factor from pushing a customer over the fence to buy your product, or choosing another solution. So how does Amazon control this?

Typically, a customer will see an eye-catching photo when searching for a product on Amazon, they'll then click on it and immediately take a look at the reviews underneath the title. Amazon has organized the reviews indicator to show up almost immediately to your visitor, meaning it is most important to tackle your reviews strategy early and maintain a high level of response and take action on all negative reviews you encounter because a single negative review can lead to a loss in hundreds of sales potentially, which can equate to thousands in lost revenues.

But not all reviews are created equal!

Verified vs. Unverified vs Competitor Sabotage

What you don't want to see are vague negative responses which leave no indication as to what the customer did not like about your product. Some sellers chalk these types of reviews as competitor sabotage, but most of the time, these are real reviews left by real customers.

What is a good way to tell the type of feedback you are getting?

Well first, consider that Amazon allows for both verified and unverified product feedback. These are weighted differently and it is made very apparent what kind of feedback is left when you look at your live product.

If you see a product you are interested in with a negative review, but then see that it is also unverified, how quickly might you dismiss it and move to the next opinion? An unverified review means the product was never purchased.

Your first thought after getting a negative score might be how your competitors may be quick to jump on your listing and leave your negative feedback to boost their own position, but if they haven't actually purchased your product, then it is easy to dismiss that kind of review, since it will clearly state "unverified" on the post. What's more, if they are truly using a strategy like this, they are putting their account status at risk should they be found out. There is a lot of risk.

That isn't to say that you won't have to contend with competitor sabotage, but I truly do not believe this will be an issue for a new seller with few sales and less than 15 or so reviews. But even if you do believe there is something sinister afoot, a simple report to Amazon will clear it up pretty quickly.

Instead of focusing on the off chance that a competitor sees your tiny new listing as a threat, expect that most if not all the verified reviews you receive will be accurate representations of what your customer truly feels about your product. If a customer loves your product, expect 4 or 5 stars, and if they really dislike it or your brand, their response will reflect that.

So why do customers leave bad reviews instead of communicating with us first?

Fortunately, we have some techniques we can employ should we encounter negative reviews, and with the proper actions, we can change the opinions of our customers toward our brands and products on Amazon. We'll get to those shortly, but first let's tackle the psychology behind online shopping.

You see, most shoppers do not interact with a human at all when shopping online. They see Amazon as this behemoth that simply provides them with the products they want, involving few or no people behind the procurement of these specific products they purchase, unlike shopping at a big-box store.

Traditional Shopping Meets New Age Fulfillment

There is sort of an inverse relationship between how we used to shop and how we shop now when it comes to how what we buy affects others on an individual level. My reviews meant nothing only a decade ago, but now, they can have lasting effects on someone's livelihood.

Traditional Shopping

In the past, we might shop at Wal-Mart or Target for our pet supplies, completely unaware of the exact circumstances for how the products we purchase from them made it there in the first place. The traditional model leaves a huge barrier to entry in that only very large, vetted companies with mega bucks are all that could afford to stock the shelves. We know that the standards for having shelf-space within a large chain means the products must be of high quality, or else they wouldn't be sold. I can trust my pet is getting a high quality product.

If I wanted to leave feedback for a product at one of these stores, my voice wouldn't be heard or at least wouldn't be as loud. I'd have to go to the online website and leave a review there, but most people would still buy the product in the store regardless of my thoughts. My reviews have very little impact overall, but that barrier to entry is all the social proof a brand needs to be sold in Big-Box stores.

New Age Shopping on Amazon

These days, anyone with a computer can make a product and send it to Amazon to sell. So long as Amazon gets their cut every time an item sells, anyone can sell almost anything on this platform. What that means is there is a range of quality, since the old barriers have been destroyed, the masses of sellers clamour about to fill in this void.

It is like the wild west where our ability to leave reviews is like having a six-shooter with a full barrel. If I am having a bad day, but otherwise enjoy the product I purchased, I am primed to attack!

How to Protect your Listings from Negative Feedback

Now that we have a better understanding of the power we wield when we type our thoughts on the internet, specifically in a feedback form, let's talk about how as a seller you can prevent some of that from ever happening.

Build that Relationship Early

We need to grasp how Amazon has become this hub for thousands of individual sellers, who are doing their best to provide for their families, while remembering that we are all humans behind these screens.

We need to make our customers understand this relationship we have with Amazon in order to build a relationship with our customers. We must restore a level of humanity within this system designed to remove us from them.

When customers don't associate their buying experience and opinions on an human connection, they are more likely to be callous with their negative feedback. The fact is that more often than not, people leave a bad review when their experience has not lived up to the high expectations Amazon has promised them.

So the first step is to make sure you under promise and over deliver on their expectations while showing them your humanity and personality.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Send email sequences that show your personality as thank you's each time a customer purchases your product.

  • Build a companion website that shows your face and tells a story about you and why you are connected to your product.

  • Give your customers a way to contact you, a social media group to join, etc.

  • Ask your customers within your email sequence to reach out to you in the event they are not 100% satisfied with their experience.

If you are unsure what is or is not allowed in your emails, simply reach out to Amazon Seller Support, give them a quoted example of the email you wish to send to your customers upon purchase, and wait to see what they say. If you are given permission from Amazon to use this email content, then you are also covering your behind in the event there are issues later.

Contact the Customer Directly

If you've built a relationship with your customer through an email sequence and you happen to get a negative review, use this chance to reach out to the customer from within the Amazon communication platform to discuss the issues.

You may have to do some digging to see when that sale was made, in order to locate their specific order, but you could also reply to their review asking them to reach out to you so you can fix it.

It is vital that we come with empathy, an understanding that your customer is the king, and a dedication to achieve a win-win result. We have to maintain a high level of professionality, a cool and positive tone, or we may escalate the issue. This could lead to more negative feedback or action against our seller account. Be very mindful of how and what you communicate with your customers, always.

Sometimes it is easy to clear up a simple misunderstanding; sometimes customers accidentally click on the one-star when they meant to click on the five-star.

  • Ask if the one-star was a mistake (only if it appears that way).

  • Tell them more about how you are a small business that is dedicated to customer satisfaction.

  • See if there is anything at all you can to to make their experience better.

  • Apologize for the mess up and offer them a replacement.

  • Tell them how important it is for you that they are happy in the end.

  • Your job isn't over until they are more than satisfied with your service.

  • Seriously, go out of your way to win over that customer.

Your customer has the ability to go back into their reviews and edit them should their opinion change.

In the event they do not change the review, use this communication to learn about how you can improve your product for future customers. These reviews may reveal an issue with your quality assurance efforts, packaging or shipping.

In any event, you should definitely comment on ALL negative reviews to offer context publicly. It will speak wonders for future customers who see that negative review and start wondering if they'll experience the same issues. Remember, all of your comments will also be public, and may affect your brand's image and reputation. Spend some time to really craft your responses so they show your best side, even if you are not on the best terms with your customer.

You Cannot Win them All (Cathartic Reviews)

Even if you go out of your way to provide amazing customer service all the way through, sometimes customers will still channel all of their anger into their feedback for what appears to be no reason at all.

I like to call these "cathartic" reviewers. Some people just need to release some steam and they may not have other methods in which to express themselves, so a form on a website the whole world can see gives them a voice they might not otherwise have.

With that being said, malicious reviews with obscene language and no value can be immediately reported to Amazon for removal. Amazon has guidelines which cover inappropriate feedback, including advertisements, multiple negative reviews, one-word responses or those with spiteful language.

Take a look at these guidelines yourself and become familiar with what is and what is not acceptable on the Amazon platform.

Use the reporting system sparingly. You should only ever report reviews that are in clear breach of Amazon's guidelines. If you report every review simply because you do not agree with the review, you might damage your reputation with Amazon, which could lead to action against your seller account.

If a review is being left about you specifically, and not your product, then it is grounds for removal. Likewise, if a customer leaves a product review on your seller page, those can be removed as well.

A good technique to ensure you never report incorrectly is to first, let some time pass. Never make decisions while in an emotional state. Read the review again later, see if you can understand why the customer may feel the way they do. If the feedback is clearly not a breach of the guidelines, move on.

Need some specific help with your situation?

If you are not sure what to do about a specific situation you have encountered regarding a negative review, or want some help crafting responses or communication with your customers, let the Gorillaz Tribe help you!

We offer one-on-one coaching for each of our members. We'll help you take the right actions to improve your Amazon business in whatever ways are possible.

Click here to learn more about how you can join the Gorillaz Tribe