Amazon has announced a ban on incentivized reviews for free or discounted products unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program. Amazon has said the changes apply to all product categories with the exception of books.
This follows Amazon taking legal action against a number of websites selling non-genuine reviews and against sellers themselves. The eCommerce giant has also recently updated its review guidelines, meaning buyers opening a new account who haven’t made purchases worth $5, cannot leave a review.
eDesk Feedback, Amazon feedback management software is fully compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service. In this article, we’ll be looking at the importance of feedback on Amazon, how you can maintain a 100% seller feedback score and strategies for dealing with negative reviews when the inevitable happens.
The Importance of Feedback on Amazon
What matters most to Amazon? Customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Therefore, when it comes to deciding which sellers to award the Buy Box to, your Amazon Seller Feedback Rating will have a high impact.
Create happy customers and you’ve accomplished a major part of selling on the Amazon platform. Conversely, if you create multiple negative customer experiences, it’s not looking quite so rosy.
Good sellers try to do a good job, while great sellers are never content with a good job and always try and find some way to improve.
Amazon calculates your average seller feedback rating based on the feedback received over the last 12 months.
If you have a feedback rating of over 95% (ideally over 98%), you’ll improve your chances of getting a share of the elusive Buy Box.
If you have a feedback rating of less than 90%, then you may want to review your selling practices—it’s likely to be having a detrimental effect on your sales, profits and Buy Box percentage.
We would encourage all sellers to become familiar with Amazon’s feedback guidelines. In case you’re unsure, asking for reviews is allowed within Amazon’s guidelines and is encouraged by one of the world’s most customer-centric businesses.
With so many other things going on including sourcing and shipping, understandably some sellers can neglect feedback management.
Whether you choose to do the process manually or automated with Amazon seller feedback software, we would encourage ALL sellers to have a formal process for collecting and managing feedback—even long-term sellers should continue to collect feedback!
On the Amazon marketplace, approximately only 5% of customers take the time to leave feedback. Unfortunately, an unhappy customer is more likely to leave feedback than a happy one. But remember, receiving negative feedback doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It could be an opportunity for you to improve an area of your business that you could do better in and provide a better customer experience.
Related reading: Amazon Buy Box Guide
The Difference Between Product Reviews and Seller Reviews
Amazon and eBay both have feedback systems on their marketplaces, but that doesn’t mean they operate in the same way.
When you search for a product on Amazon, you’ll notice a number of gold stars and a number indicating how many product reviews it has received. If you’re a private label seller, you’ll be very interested in gaining 4 and 5-star reviews for your products. As you receive more product reviews, your product visibility of Amazon will improve.
Here’s an example of a 1-star product review of the new Harry Potter book on Amazon.
Seller reviews are a bit more difficult to find. Here’s an example of an Amazon seller called Clyde Parks who prides themselves on high standards of customer service. They have received 6,788 reviews and a perfect feedback rating of 100% over the last 12 months.
Some buyers will leave a review of your business that is intended as a product review. If this happens, you can request Amazon to remove this but more on that process below.
Strategies for Dealing with Negative Reviews
If you sell on Amazon, it’s somewhat inevitable that eventually, you’ll get a negative review (it even happens to top-rated sellers). The important thing is though, if you get a negative (or neutral*) review, don’t ignore it—even a handful of bad reviews can affect your Amazon business.
*neutral feedback is also considered negative by Amazon so treat it in the same way.
One thing to remember, Amazon’s feedback isn’t cast in stone. If you receive a disappointing review, you can work with the customer to see if there is any way you can improve their experience and satisfaction levels. An unsatisfied customer can remove their feedback within 60 days.
There are three main ways you can deal with a negative review on Amazon:
1. Get Amazon to Remove it
Alternatively, if your buyer isn’t receptive to the idea of removing their negative comment, you can reach out to Amazon.
The effort required by this is pretty low because all you have to do is visit Seller Central and send a message to Amazon; the converse is that the review has to specifically not comply with Amazon’s guidelines.
Amazon will remove a review if
- The feedback includes obscene language.
- The feedback includes personally identifiable information.
- The entire feedback comment is a product review.
- The entire feedback comment is regarding fulfilment or customer service for an order Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA).
Here’s an example of the latter directly from Amazon,
“The way it was forced through my letter box was appalling. Damaged the packaging, I’m not happy about that at all.”
Message from Amazon: “This item was fulfilled by Amazon, and we take responsibility for this fulfilment experience.”
If the review complies with the guidelines, it’s pretty unlikely that Amazon will actually remove the comment—the feedback has to be unusually harsh or dishonest.
2. Get the Customer to Revise or Remove Their Feedback
The most effective and permanent way to deal with negative feedback is to eliminate it. And since you can’t do that as a seller without hacking into Amazon (which, again, we do not recommend), you’ll need to communicate with your buyer about any misunderstandings.
Email them and ask exactly what they weren’t happy with, and try and clear up any misunderstandings. This is going to take a lot of effort because you have to reach out right away, make yourself readily/quickly/constantly available to just one buyer, and focus a lot of energy on just one review.
But it’s worth it, it really is, if you can bump up your feedback score and keep your reputation stellar.
3. Respond to the Negative Feedback
Okay, so maybe the first two strategies didn’t work and what you’re left with is damage control. It’s like how on Yelp you might come across a slammer of a review and see the shop owner commenting right back, addressing the person’s concerns.
You won’t actually be able to remove the negative feedback, but you’ll be able to show other buyers what the true score is. It’s a bit of a win-win, lose-lose situation in that the negative feedback is still there, but you’ll have gotten to explain your side of the story.
When all avenues have been exhausted (Amazon and the customer won’t remove it), then sometimes it’s necessary to just take one on the chin and move on. The important thing is that you addressed the issue (if there was one) that the customer had in a professional manner.
With time, the feedback will fall off the first page and after 12 months, it won’t count towards seller feedback rating. Just make sure that 95% of the feedback you receive is of a positive nature, meaning you need to get 19 positive reviews for every one bad one.
How to Improve Your Seller Feedback Rating
Many customers do not understand the importance of feedback so you may need to educate them so they understand how crucial it is to your business. Some don’t even realize they are buying from a third-party seller and not Amazon themselves!
With only 5% of people leaving feedback on Amazon, it’s never been more important to increase your quantity of positive feedback and deal with any negative feedback quickly.
Successful sellers have developed clever ways to encourage positive feedback. The most obvious way to get more feedback is straightforward, ask for it (at the right times)!
You can encourage your customers to leave feedback through the inclusion of a note in your packages. The more personal, the more likely they will see you as an individual—resulting in better feedback!
You can also email your buyers asking how you did and if they are happy with your service, remind them of the importance of feedback to your business.
To make it easier for them (and increase the likelihood of them actually taking the time to leave feedback), you can include a link in the email for them to click on and rate the transaction.
Here’s a good example of a feedback email l received recently from a third-party seller:
Hello from [seller name],
We contacted you recently to make sure you received your package, and to ensure that your expectations were met for your order with [seller name] on Amazon [order number] placed on 19 July 2016 for the following:
Here are the details for your order:
Our goal is for you is to be completely satisfied with this transaction. Since we have not heard from you, it appears we have met your expectations. However, if you do have any concerns, we would appreciate it if you would give us a chance to address your concerns before leaving feedback. If you’ve had a positive buying experience, we would be grateful if you would leave us positive feedback. The following link will take you directly to the feedback page on Amazon:
Leave Seller Feedback [link]
Note: If for some reason the above link does not work, please copy and paste this URL into your web browser:
If you have already left feedback, thank you very much. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your order, please reply to this email, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
When the customer receives a request for feedback and clicks on the link they will be presented with the following page, where they will be asked to rank seller rating (1 star-5 stars) and a series of yes/no questions covering shipping date, item description and service.
You should be doing everything in your powers to ensure that when a customer arrives on this page, they’re going to give you a 4 or 5-star rating and three yes votes!
Feedback on Amazon is scored as follows:
5 stars = Excellent
4 stars = Good
3 stars = Fair
2 stars = Poor
1 star = Awful
It’s worthwhile informing your customers of this as a 3-star rating (neutral) will actually count against your business and bring your seller rating down. Without knowing the ratings, a customer could think a 3-star rating is average (positive), when it is, in fact, fair (negative).
5 Tips to Maintain a 100% Seller Feedback Rating
Stephen Smotherman is one of our favorite FBA bloggers and is always willing to help others based on his vast experience. He has kindly shared his five tips for helping to maintain a 100% seller feedback rating.
1. When choosing the condition of a product, round down, not up.
2. Think twice about selling an item in acceptable condition.
3. When you get unfair negative feedback on Amazon (and you will), act quickly.
4. When you get legitimate negative feedback (and you will), act quickly, apologetically, and generously.
5. Use automated Amazon feedback software.
We would add a further two tips to Stephen’s list that could help you prevent negative feedback and product returns.
- Provide better product descriptions and images.
- Ensure you ship your items on time and respond to customers in a timely manner.
You should aim to respond to any messages you receive from customers within 24 hours and ideally as soon as possible.
7 Feedback Mistakes to Avoid
1. Taking your time in responding to buyers’ feedback
Amazon grants you a 24 hour period to respond to customers. If you’re out and about a lot, then installing the Amazon seller app on your smartphone could help you respond to customers in a timely manner.
2. Not identifying feedback as not needing a response
Sometimes you’ll get a message that doesn’t require a response. In these instances, you should mark the message as “no response needed”.
3. Not reaching out to buyers for feedback
As mentioned previously, all sellers should spend time on feedback management. Send your buyers an email asking them to leave their feedback. Offering incentives for positive reviews are against Amazon’s policies.
4. Not using automation to handle the tricky bits for you
Many sellers like to save time and take the hassle out of feedback management by outsourcing this part of their business to Amazon feedback request software like eDesk Feedback. If you’re a very small seller, you may prefer to manage this side of your business manually.
5. Being content with bad feedback staying live
Negative feedback is part of doing business. It’s near on impossible to please all of the people, all of the time. Try to resolve any neutral or negative feedback directly with the customer—this is encouraged by Amazon. If you think the feedback is against Amazon’s guidelines, for example, a product review appearing in the seller review section, you can contact Amazon and ask them to remove it in the first instance.
6. Letting too much time cool in a negative feedback situation
If someone is annoyed about poor service or feels let down, it’s advisable to give them some time to reflect and take the emotion out of the situation.
Don’t forget to resolve the situation within 60 days, as after this period, feedback can no longer be altered or removed.
7. Using Amazon’s higher powers as a source of help
If you’ve tried everything you can to resolve the issue directly with the customer—don’t be afraid to get Amazon involved.
About eDesk Feedback
eDesk Feedback offers the best in class Amazon feedback software to help sellers automate communication with their buyers. Sellers can pro-actively email buyers to ensure a smooth experience, and ask them to leave positive feedback and/or a positive review.
eDesk Feedback uses a number of carefully crafted templates, containing language with a focus on customer satisfaction that has been tested and proven to be effective in increasing customer engagement.
With our risk-free no-obligation trial, you can improve your seller rating without it costing you a penny.
With eDesk Feedback, automated feedback tool, you get a beautifully modern solution that:
- is really easy to set up,
- increases your number of positive feedbacks and product reviews received, in turn, improving your seller metrics and ability to win the Buy Box,
- comes ready with professionally copy-written feedback requests and product review requests that are proven to have higher engagement rates from buyers,
- protects your seller rating by allowing you to exclude certain buyers, orders or products,
- allows you to choose when messages are sent based on when an order is placed, dispatched or delivered—straight away or up to 10 weeks after the event,
- supports multiple Amazon US and UK channels in one account along with Google Reviews, Trustpilot, eBay, and many more.
- comes with a free trial.