This post is by Chris Dunne, Marketing Executive at FeedbackExpress. FeedbackExpress is a powerful, cloud-based software solution that helps Amazon sellers automate and manage their feedback communication with buyers. The software is proven to help sellers get more positive seller feedback and product reviews as well as removing any negative and neutral feedback quickly and effectively.
You’re probably aware that Amazon recently updated its product review guidelines, meaning buyers who haven’t made purchases worth $5 cannot leave a review. The ecommerce giant is strongly focused on removing fake product reviews and has recently taken legal action against a number of websites selling non-genuine reviews and against sellers themselves.
Product reviews are getting all the attention of late, but what about seller feedback? The two are completely separate, but often confused. This post is all about seller feedback: what it is and why it’s so important, how to deal with negative feedback, and how to improve your feedback rating.
The Importance of Feedback on Amazon
What matters most to Amazon? Customer satisfaction and loyalty.
So when it comes to deciding which sellers to award the Buy Box to, your Amazon seller feedback – submitted directly by Amazon’s customers – has a big impact.
If you can create happy customers then you’ve accomplished a major part of selling on Amazon. Conversely, if you create negative customer experiences, your business can start going downhill very quickly.
In ecommerce, an unhappy customer is more likely to leave feedback than a happy one. However, 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 where you are weak and provide a better customer experience. Good sellers try to do a good job. Great sellers are never content with just doing a good job, and always try and find some way to improve.
Amazon calculates your 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 mysterious Buy Box. If your feedback rating is less than 90%, then you may want to review your selling practices – it’s likely to be having a detrimental affect on your sales, profits and Buy Box percentage.
With so many things going on including sourcing and shipping, it’s understandable that some sellers neglect feedback management. Whether you choose to do it manually or through an automated software solution, I encourage ALL sellers to have a process for collecting and managing feedback – even long-term sellers should continue to monitor their feedback. After all, it’s your rolling 12-month rating that counts. If service standards slip, your feedback will too.
The Difference Between Product Reviews and Seller Feedback
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. Here’s an example of a 1-star product review of the new Harry Potter book on Amazon.
According to an eConsultancy study, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. If you’re a private label seller, you’ll be very determined to gain 4 and 5 star reviews for your products – as you receive more product reviews, your product visibility on Amazon will improve.
Seller feedback is a bit more difficult to find. Here’s an example of an Amazon seller called Clyde Parks, who pride themselves on providing the “highest standard of customer service”. You’ll notice from their seller profile below, they’ve received 6,788 feedback ratings in total and have a perfect score of 100% over the last 12 months.
Some buyers will leave feedback on your business that is actually a product review. If this happens, you can ask Amazon to remove it. I’ll show you how below.
Strategies for Dealing With Negative Feedback
If you sell on Amazon, it’s somewhat inevitable that eventually you’ll get negative feedback – it even happens to top-rated sellers. If the inevitable happens and you get left negative (or neutral) feedback, don’t ignore it. Even a handful of bad feedback ratings can affect your Amazon business.
Tip: Neutral or 3-star feedback is also considered negative by Amazon, so treat it in the same way as 1-star and 2-star feedback.
One thing to note, Amazon’s feedback isn’t cast in stone. If you receive disappointing feedback, you can work with the customer to see if there’s any way you can improve their experience and satisfaction level. An unsatisfied customer can upgrade or remove their feedback within 60 days of leaving their review.
Let’s look at the three main ways you can deal with negative feedback on Amazon.
1. Get Amazon to remove it
In the first instance, check to see if feedback complies with Amazon’s guidelines – if it doesn’t, they’ll remove it for you quickly. The effort required for this is pretty low. Just visit Seller Central and send a message to Amazon stating the reason why you think the feedback infringes their guidelines.
Here’s an example of a message you might send:
I’ve received a comment from [buyer’s name] on [order number] and feel it is more suited to the product reviews section. Can you remove this from my feedback profile?
Here is the comment in question, [insert comment].
Amazon will remove negative feedback 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 fulfillment or customer service for an order Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA).
Here’s an example of the latter taken 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 fulfillment experience.”
But if the feedback complies with the guidelines, it’s pretty unlikely that Amazon will actually remove the comment – the comment would have 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. For this, 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 issues they may have.
This is going to take a lot of effort to make yourself quickly and constantly available to just one buyer, and focus a lot of energy for just one piece of feedback. But it’s worth it, if you can bump up your score and keep your reputation stellar.
3. Respond to the negative feedback
Okay, so maybe the first two strategies didn’t work. What you’re left with is damage control. It’s like how on TripAdvisor you might come across a review from a disgruntled customer only for the restaurant manager to respond, addressing the person’s concerns. You won’t actually be able to remove the negative feedback, but at least you’ve got an opportunity to explain your side of the story.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take one on the chin and move on – the important thing is that you addressed the issue (if there was one) in a professional manner.
With time, the feedback will fall off the first page and after 12 months, it won’t count towards your seller feedback rating at all. Just make sure that 95% of the feedback you receive is of a positive nature, meaning you need to get 19 positive ratings for every one bad one.
How to Improve Your Seller Feedback Rating
Many customers do not understand the importance of feedback. You may need to educate them, so they understand how important it is to your business. You would be surprised at how many customers don’t realize they are buying from a third-party seller and not Amazon themselves!
With statistics showing that only 10% of people leave feedback on Amazon, that makes it vitally important to increase your quantity of positive feedback and deal with any negative feedback quickly.
1. Put a note in the package
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! Sellers can include a thank you and a reminder to leave a review but are not allowed to include incentives or discounts for doing so.
2. Ask for feedback by email
You can also email your buyers asking how you’ve performed as a seller 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:
- [product name]
Our goal is for you 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 asked to leave seller feedback from one to five stars based on their experience. They will also be presented with a series of yes/no questions covering shipping date, item description and service. As sellers, 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 four or five 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 these metrics 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-stars rating is average (positive), when it is in fact, fair (negative).
3. More feedback tips
Stephen Smotherman is one of my favorite FBA bloggers and 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.
- When choosing the condition of a product, round down, not up.
- Think twice about selling an item in acceptable condition.
- When you get an unfair negative feedback on Amazon (and you will), act quickly.
- When you get a legitimate negative feedback (and you will), act quickly, apologetically, and generously.
- Use automated Amazon feedback software.
I’m going to add a further two tips to Stephen’s list, that could help you prevent negative feedback and product returns.
- Providing better product descriptions and images.
- Ensure you ship your items on time and respond to customers within a timely manner.
You should aim to respond to any messages you receive from customers within 24 hours and ideally as soon as possible, which brings us nicely onto feedback mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Feedback Mistakes You Should Avoid
1. Taking too long to respond 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 more timely manner.
2. Not marking messages as “no response needed”
Sometimes you’ll get a message that doesn’t require a response. In these instances, you should mark the message as “no response needed” so it doesn’t appear to Amazon that you have not replied.
3. Not asking for feedback
As recommended previously, all sellers should spend time on feedback management. Send your buyers an email asking them to leave their feedback. But remember, offering incentives for positive feedback is against Amazon’s policies.
4. Not using automated software
Many sellers like to save time and take the hassle out of feedback management by outsourcing this part of their business to automated software like my company FeedbackExpress. If you’re just starting out on Amazon, you may prefer to manage this side of your business manually.
5. Not dealing with negative feedback
Negative feedback is part of doing business. It’s impossible to please all of the people, all of the time. If you think that feedback you have received is against Amazon’s guidelines (like a product review submitted as seller feedback) you can contact Amazon and ask them to remove it. If a customer has a genuine issue with their order, try to resolve any neutral or negative feedback directly with them – this is encouraged by Amazon.
6. Allowing too much time for a customer to cool down
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. That said, don’t forget to resolve the situation within 60 days, as after this period, feedback can no longer be altered or removed.
Whether you source stock from manufacturers, distributors or retail arbitrage; or are a private label seller selling your own products on Amazon, protecting or improving your seller rating is crucial to Buy Box eligibility and product visibility in search results.
Putting a system in place (whether manually or automatically) to increase your positive feedback and product reviews, as well as helping you react to negative feedback, is vital to long-term sales and success.
The real icing on the cake with improved seller metrics is the double-whammy of both higher sales and increased profits. You’ll win the Buy Box more often, and win it with more of your profit margin intact.
Chris Dunne can be contacted via FeedbackExpress
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