If you haven’t gotten your first negative review yet, brace yourself, it will happen. Be ready for it. If you have gotten that first negative, calm down! We all freak out when we get our first negative review and try to figure out where it all went wrong. It probably didn’t go wrong. Negative reviews happen on even the best products, and in fact, you should see it as a positive. Real people with real opinions are buying your product.
I see that there is no pleasing you
Go ahead and look at some of your favorite products on amazon. Click their 1 star and 2 star reviews. Read them. You’ll be shocked. In fact, here are a few excerpts from real reviews on the Apple Iphone 6:
Quite a few people like to show off their iPhone 6 as a symbol of status. Apple has created such a brand with last year’s technologies to lure people.
The above quote was from a review that was about 500 words. That’s as long as some of my blog posts. The buyer didn’t say anything unique, and didn’t talk about his own experience.
Most of the people on here give this phone a 5 star rating, blindly rating it.
Another 500 word post about all the problems he had with his phone.
I wish every day that I hadn’t upgraded from the iPhone 5.
This one was only about 100 words.
I think you get the point. The iPhone 6 has a couple thousand reviews, and most are 4 and 5 stars. The brand and product is one that inspires loyalty and fanaticism in the marketplace that’s almost cult-like. No one can argue they don’t put out a good product people like, but they still get super negative reviews.
1. Have Realistic Expectations
You don’t want to have a 5 star product
Consider how you would feel about a product that 100 reviews that were absolutely perfect. You’d probably think there was something fishy going on, because you know that not every customer will be happy, every time. Negative reviews are actually seen as a positive sign by buyers, and give more legitimacy to your positive reviews.
Think about late night infomercials. They show you testimonial after testimonial about people who have made millions of dollars flipping houses with no money down. The best infomercial also includes a few examples of people who have had just average performance, which gives the folks who made millions more credibility.
The review score you want
The best range that I’ve seen for conversions is 4.6-4.7 stars. Anything lower than that, and customers start digging into the reviews to try to figure out what is wrong with the product. More than that, and they question credibility of the reviews.
2. Learn to Appreciate Thoughtful Reviews
What if it’s a negative that is perfectly reasonable?
You don’t want every prospective customer to buy your product.
I know that seems contrary to our goals as entrepreneurs, but in the long run, you want customers to buy your products who will be happy with them. If your product doesn’t meet a customers needs, you’ll end up with a return, or a higher than average customer service cost. Customers who are turned away from your product by a thoughtful, balanced review are probably ones that will cost you more money in the long run.
You want customers who have realistic expectations of your product. 3 star reviews help you get those customers.
Learning from Critical Reviews
Sometimes, the customer just didn’t use your product correctly. The problem they had may not have been solved because the customer didn’t do something the way you anticipated that they would. This is an opportunity to provide great customer service. Post a comment on their review with more information that would help them.
You can also use this as an opportunity to include a how-to guide in your e-mail follow-up sequence, or add a “FAQ” to your website or product insert.
The last thing you want to happen is that prospective customers see this review, and think your product doesn’t work. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to add some details to the description of your product.
Another option is to have a friend go to your listing and ask a question like “How do I ….” fill in the blank with whatever it is customers are struggling with. The “Questions” section of your product page is a great way to bring attention to these issues for future customers. Current customers who see the review will likely also see this information and assume the person leaving the review
3. Balance your Score with Positive Reviews
Have a Great Review Sequence
Generally people only think about leaving a review if something is wrong. Having a strong follow-up sequence is super important to make sure that the happy customers also come back and leave a review, otherwise the critical reviews will out rank your negative reviews.
Avoid Over-Using Review Groups
What you don’t want to do is solicit a bunch of “Unbiased” non-verified reviews from review groups to control your score every time you get a critical review.
Review groups and programs are great to launch a new product, but if the only positive reviews you get are from these groups, you need to take a long and hard look at your product’s quality, and whether the product actually does what it’s supposed to.
For more information read How Review Groups will Destroy Amazon
Your Most Important Reviews
Your most important reviews are the ones selected “Most helpful Critical/Positive review” – You can ask peers and friends to up-vote a review that you think is well balanced. Generally, once you get the review into this “most helpful” position it naturally gets “Helpful” votes from customers, because more customers see that review than any of the others.
Under Rating Reviewers
My favorite 3 star reviews are those who talk about how perfect the product is. You know the ones, they look like this:
The first instinct when you get this review may be to curse, but don’t! Most people go straight to the 3 star reviews, because they understand that the 1 star and the 5 star’s don’t tell the full story. Imagine your customer going to the 3 star reviews, only to read that people are happy with your product. Personally, I find these reviews and up-vote the heck out of them.
4. Fix and Respond to Negative Comments
Sometimes it’s difficult to identify who actually gave you the review. Hopefully you’re lucky and the person uses their full time for the review, but probably not. Worse case scenario is the customer leaves the review under a completely anonymous review as “Amazon Customer”. Usually though, it’s in the middle. My reviews often come with a first name and last initial. I think this must be the Amazon default.
If you have part or all of the customer’s name, the best option you have is to search your Amazon Fulfilled Shipments report. The report is found by going to reports -> fulfillment -> sales -> Amazon Fulfilled Shipments. The report is a tab delimited text file that can be imported into your favorite spreadsheet program like excel or google sheets.
If you don’t have any part of the customer’s name, the best bet you have is to leave a comment on the review urging the customer to call you. Here’s my tempate:
Hello, I’m the brand owner for XYZ Product, and I would like to make this situation right for you. Because your name isn’t included in the review, I don’t have a way to contact you directly. Please contact me so we can resolve this situation. You can contact me by scrolling to the top, just below the item price you’ll see Sold by XYZ Products, LLC and fulfilled my amazon. Click XYZ Products, LLC and there will be a button to “ask a question” – use this and include your full name and order number, if possible. I look forward to resolving this for you.
You need to do everything you can to resolve the customer’s issue, and you need to communicate with the customer telling them what you’re doing. You want to go above and beyond what the customer expects.
Here are a few tips:
- Never talk about the review until the situation is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. You don’t want them to think you’re only taking action because you want them to change their review.
- Take ownership of the brand, and the issue – do not get defensive – defending your product will make it worse. Even if the customer is wrong, take ownership of the misunderstanding
- Overwhelm the customer with your action. Most of the time I send a replacement immediately, free of charge, along with refunding the customer in full.
- If the product is fine, but it just doesn’t do what the customer wanted, issue a refund, and ask for feedback about why it doesn’t work. Let the customer know you want to make sure other customer’s have realistic expectations.
- If the customer is just utilizing the product incorrectly, take ownership of that too, while educating the customer. No matter how much you’ve done to help customers use your product, don’t point it out to your customer.
After you’ve resolved the issue and the customer is happy, ask the customer to modify their review. Here’s an example I’ve used.
Mr Customer, I’m glad we were able to get this issue resolved. If you could update your review to reflect this, I would appreciate it. My company is small, and reviews are really important to us because customers use them to make buying decisions. Of course you are under no obligation to do so, but it would help my business, and it would help other customers to know that when issues do happen, we make it right.
Before responding to customers, check out my 3 Keys to Winning Customer Interactions
Respond to Reviews
Respond to each review publicly with what was done. Customer’s don’t see these comments by default, but if they look at the review on a computer, they will see there is a comment, and may look. Done correctly, this will give the customer confidence that when something does happen, you’ll make it right. Follow the same guidelines given above to build good responses.
Don’t freak out- Learn and React
If you’re selling a quality product that solves a need, negative reviews are natural and will balance out over time. Learn from your negative reviews, improve your product, set good expectations with your customers, and make sure they’re educated on how to use the product.
Tell me about your strategy to deal with critical reviews below, in the comments.