This is a guest post by the Efficient Era team. Efficient Era offers a range of tools for real-time alerts, actionable analytics and process automation for private label businesses on Amazon. Selling on Amazon is awesome yet full of countless time sinks that encroach on your valuable time. Our software solutions help Amazon power sellers get a closer look at their day-to-day operations, leaving them with more time to focus on the big picture.
Negative Reviews: A Fact of Life
Ideally, we’d like as few of them as possible, but negative reviews are a fact of life on Amazon. While some 1-star reviews will inevitably pop up, not every negative review is a lost cause: many customers who leave negative reviews describe known problems that you could easily fix, either by explaining the solution to them or by sending a replacement unit. Of course, some customers are just plain mad, but you can’t please everyone. A surprising number of negative reviewers would change their minds, and even edit their reviews, if you could reach out to them.Negative reviews are just a fact of life. Here's how to connect and repair the relationship. Click To Tweet
How to Reach the Buyers Behind the Review
There’s a key problem here, though: how do you reach out to them? After all, Amazon masks the identities of reviewers by default; the only piece of identification attached to a review is a nickname, which links to their public profile, but neither of these things allow sellers to contact these reviewers directly. This is probably for a good reason — Amazon doesn’t want sellers harassing every negative reviewer that posts on their product page (more on this later).
To reach out to the customer, you could leave a comment on the review, but that method is usually reserved for public statements or responses to reviews. More importantly, customers rarely read the comments left on their reviews. If you want to actually offer a solution to the customer, a comment on their review is not the way to do it.
What you would really want is a way to get the order number associated with a review. From there, you can get the Amazon marketplace email for that customer, and reach out to them to help. By default, Amazon offers no way to do this.
Although there’s no clear-cut way to match buyers and reviews, you can investigate Amazon reviews manually by either finding an order ID or using inspect element. We share the process to do this along with screenshots at How to Find Out Who Left You A Review.
Another way to match reviews to buyers is through the use of tools. For example, Efficient Era’s Buyer-Reviewer Matching software does this automatically, and it appears as part of Efficient Era’s larger review management system. The software will link-match product reviews with the order number that it came from, along with the Amazon Marketplace email for that customer so you can reach out to them. This is a computationally heavy task of processing every order and every review to find matches, comparable to looking for a needle in a haystack.
Of course, having the ability to send emails to your reviewers is one thing; actually sending emails that help the customer and make them more likely to edit their review is another. We’re going to dive into our methods and approach to review response emails to give you a better picture of how we think this tool is best used.
Negative Reviews and Customer Service
The big, underlying point is this: negative reviews are customer service opportunities. Often negative reviews are from customers whose products didn’t work, or who didn’t understand exactly how the product functioned. Now you can reach out to those people and offer a replacement, tell them how a certain feature works, give them tips on how to best use their product, or whatever else you need to do to provide a positive customer service experience.
Of course, this strategy won’t work for every negative review: some reviewers just want to yell at your company, others won’t describe what their problem is, others quite simply bought the wrong product… the list goes on. However, there are a surprising number of reviewers whose opinions can be flipped with a bit of customer service — we think that identifying those reviewers and providing them the help they need is the most valuable use of this tool.
Here’s a bit of extra motivation: With carefully written emails and good customer service follow-ups, we’ve seen about 20% of customers reached out to through this method modify their reviews in appreciation of the service they received. Not only will this make your average star rating look better, but those customers will be significantly more likely to return and buy again after receiving that kind of service.
Words of Caution
Now, buyer-reviewer matching is undeniably a useful tool, but used in the wrong way, it can easily hurt your business more than it helps it. In other words, you’ve been given a great power — use it for good, not for evil.
Hopefully, this goes without saying, but we should get it out of the way first: you should absolutely not beg, bully, pressure, incentivize, or otherwise directly influence your customers to change their reviews. Yes, the ideal outcome of these emails is for the customer to change their negative review, but that decision should come from them after you’ve provided them with excellent customer service. No one likes being told what to do, and if customers sniff out any hint of a demand being made, you’ve lost your chance at winning them over.
Perhaps more importantly, bad seller behavior is expressly forbidden under Amazon’s Prohibited seller activities and actions page. You may not ask buyers to modify or remove reviews.
Of course, proper conduct in review response emails goes beyond simply following Amazon’s rules. It’s also important to consider the saturation of third-party emails that customers are receiving. With follow-up emails becoming almost ubiquitous among third-party sellers, Amazon customers, especially frequent shoppers, are aware and cynical.
This state of affairs has multiple implications. First of all, you need to carefully choose your battles when you respond to reviews. Don’t just shoot off emails to every negative reviewer without making sure they’re carefully written, and especially don’t spam reviewers with multiple emails — that type of behavior is more likely to be annoying than productive. Find reviewers that you think you can help, and send them one email. Only follow up on that email if the reviewer replies and seems willing to work with you. If they don’t reply, or otherwise don’t welcome your help, don’t push the issue — you’ll only make the situation worse.
Of course, frequent Amazon shoppers get emails from lots of sellers, some more versed in email etiquette than others. Unfortunately, they might get so fed up with poorly-written emails that they stop opening third-party emails altogether. That’s the sad truth, but there’s nothing really actionable for you to do in those circumstances. So, the best thing you can do is focus on perfecting your own emails — focus on genuinely helping and providing value to your customers, and the rest will follow.