How to Respond to Negative Reviews the Right Way

No one likes getting a bad review.

But if you’re getting a lot of reviews, some will inevitably be bad ones.

It strikes fear into the heart of sellers everywhere, but the truth is, unhappy customers are a part of running a business. How you respond to them is what separates the good ones from great ones.

People have a lot of crazy ideas on how to deal with negative reviews. Some good ideas, most bad. Here are a few simple things you should do when a 1-star rolls in.

Responding to Negative Reviews

While you won’t please everyone, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of turning things around.

Here are some tips to making the most from unhappy customers.

Don’t panic!

A lot of people act like the world is ending when a negative review comes in. It leads to knee-jerk reactions.

I once saw someone desperately asking around for advice on a community page after they got a bad review.

“I finally found the customer on Facebook. After I sent them a message they blocked me and turned their account to private! Help, what do I do now?”

The first advice for dealing with negative review is… don’t panic!

Bad reviews happen. People have different expectations and different viewpoints. It can be hard to please every single person.

In fact, one or two negative reviews can actually be a good thing. Particularly in a world where more and more customers are concerned about fake reviews.

A listing with only 5 star reviews comes off as suspicious, whereas a listing with a few lower ratings, and an overall rating between 4.5-4.8 stars feels a lot more authentic.

Take it seriously

First instinct is often to get combative.

The customer is using it wrong!” “They should know what to expect!

Most of the time (there are exceptions), your customer has a serious issue.

It could be something you hadn’t thought of. It could be something in the listing you thought was clear, but wasn’t clear to this customer.

Whatever it is, you should take a negative review as an opportunity to fix a problem. In any business, customer satisfaction is the most important thing. If your customer isn’t satisfied, don’t blame it on them.

Whenever you get a negative review, you should reach out to the customer (through Amazon’s buyer-seller messages) and make it right. The short-term loss of offering a refund or replacement can be offset if you end up with a happy customer who buys from you again.

As a bonus, if you make the customer happy with a refund or replacement, they may even take back their negative review.

Respond publicly

You can (and should) leave a public comment under negative reviews.

A professional response shows anyone reading your reviews that you are serious about quality and customer satisfaction. This can often offset the negative impact of the review, since future customers know they’re going to get taken care of if there are any problems.

It doesn’t have to be much. Just a simple apology, then direct them towards private channels (such as buyer-seller messages) to make it right.

Respond quickly

While you don’t want to panic and potentially say the wrong thing, don’t wait around either.

As soon as a customer makes their feelings known, whether through a bad review or something else, the clock is ticking.

Your customer is already unhappy – every minute no one responds to them is only likely to make it worse.

As a rule of thumb, get back to customers within 24-48 hours. Post your public comment within this time frame too, so future customers know that you deal with problems fast.

Apologize

This should be a simple part of responding to a negative review. Yet a lot of the time it is missing.

It’s part of not accepting that the customer has a real problem. As such, the business will be happy to make it right with a refund and/or replacement, but doesn’t want to admit to any fault or wrongdoing.

A lot of the time, this is actually all the customer wants – an admission that there was a problem, and someone to say sorry.

Don’t underestimate how far a simple “sorry” or “I understand” goes.

Be real

Another common gripe for unhappy customers is getting a canned response, or a response that sounds like it’s not from a real person.

So, make an effort to be authentic, and connect with your customer.

Don’t use overly formal language (but don’t use inappropriate language either).

Don’t use the same saved message every time.

Do try to speak the customer’s language. If they realize they’re talking to another person just like them, rather than a faceless corporation or robot, they’ll be a lot more forgiving.

Ask Amazon to delete the review

As a last resort, you might be able to get Amazon to delete the review.

Amazon has guidelines for what can and can’t be included in product reviews. If a customer review violates these guidelines, Amazon will remove the review from your listing.

Also, if you’re selling via FBA and a customer’s review relates to shipping problems, Amazon will often strikethrough the review, and comment that the review relates to them, not to the product.

Don’t think that Amazon will remove every negative review. Your first action should still be to take it seriously. But you may be surprised what Amazon is willing to remove.

Responding to Negative Reviews – In Summary

All going well, you won’t have this problem coming up very often.

But if you make a lot of sales, you’re sure to have a few negative reviews come up.

Being smart about how you respond to them will turn a lot of unhappy customers into happy customers.

If you’re serious about building a real brand from your Amazon store, start by being serious about your customers. The rest will follow.