Drew is on the beat with the latest developments in the eCommerce world.
Customer Feedback vs. Product Reviews
In years past, on Amazon, customer feedback and product reviews used to go hand in hand. But today and for the foreseeable future, Amazon has split these into two distinctive metrics. What's the difference?
Customer feedback is a review of your business and business practices and is displayed publicly on your Amazon storefront.
Product reviews are a customer's opinions of products, and these are displayed publicly on the product's detail page.
I will be focusing on customer feedback here on this page, although both are critical to your business's success. Here, I will describe how customer feedback on your business works and how to best control any damage it causes to your online reputation.
The Customer Is Always Right?
I know, you know, and most all business owners know about the saying "the customer is always right," but they always say this tongue in cheek. A business's reputation depends on the happiness of its customers; on Amazon, it is no different. A company thrives on a successful reputation.
Fake Reviews on Amazon
The online world has seen a rise in fake reviews (both positive and negative), review swapping, false claims of product copyright infringement, and much more. These black hat tactics are used to damage your reputation and can cost you money and wipe out years of hard work. These practices are unethical, and those who use them can have their accounts suspended if they are found out.
Amazon Uses Customer Feedback to Rate Sellers
This is one of the bread-and-butter puzzle pieces of how Amazon determines good sellers from bad sellers. Your seller feedback is your public rating of your business across all products that you sell. If you sell hats and toasters, the reviews from your hat listings will be combined with your reviews from toaster listings to give you a full picture of your account. A 4-5 star rating is considered positive feedback, 3-star feedback is neither positive nor negative, and a 1-2 star feedback is negative.
Your feedback can be viewed publicly over the life of your account. The feedback you receive is visible for 30 days, 90 days, one year, and a lifetime.
Do not confuse customer feedback with product reviews. This may seem a bit odd, considering multiple sellers can sell the same product on Amazon, but the ratings on the product pages are not meant to rate the product at all; instead, they are meant to rate the individual seller. Customer feedback is a review of your business: how fast a product was shipped, any customer service issues, the returns process, etc.
Can You Ask Amazon to Remove Bad Feedback?
A customer may make a comment like, "The product was lame, but the returns process was the worst, they made me pay! 1 star," and have this feedback featured on the product page. This is a rating of your business as well as a rating of the product. If you tried to get Amazon to remove this feedback, you would be unlikely to succeed.
Amazon only removes feedback for the following reasons:
- The feedback includes obscene language.
- The feedback includes seller-specific personally identifiable information.
- The entire feedback comment is a product review.
- It is strike-through feedback regarding fulfillment or customer service for an order fulfilled by Amazon.
Amazon's automated feedback section will initially determine whether a feedback complies with Amazon's policy for reviewing a business but does not proactively remove feedback.
If a feedback comment has one of the listed problems, but the automated service rejects your submission, you are able to open a case with an Amazon representative to review the comment. However, an Amazon representative told me that if you send customer feedback cases to Amazon service representatives and the representatives, as well as the automated service, reject your submission, your account is likely to be reviewed by Amazon and, in some cases, suspended. There are risks in submitting customer feedback cases to live Amazon representatives.
Why Is Feedback So Important on Amazon?
Gives You Valuable Data About Your Reputation
If a product that you sell has a bad rating, you should take a look at the reviews and see what they indicate about your business processes. The packaging of the product could become damaged in transit, which means changing the packaging you ship out your product in. You may need to change shipping carriers if your products are arriving late. It very well could be the product itself, so you should test your on-shelf product and either discard any defective units, send them back to the manufacturer or liquidate them.
Impacts Whose Listings Are Shown in the Buy Box
I don't know how Amazon's algorithm chooses the buy box winner, but many insiders and selling sources have pinpointed the category umbrellas that make up the algorithm, and customer feedback is one of them. If someone else who is also selling your product has a higher price but is winning the buy box, their customer feedback rating may be higher, thus making them a more trustworthy company to purchase from. Companies that have over 1% in their Order Defect Rate (ODR) are less likely to win the buy box than those that do not have over 1%. I tell you this because negative feedback is taken into account in the ODR.
Your Account Could Be Suspended/Closed if Your Rating Is Too Low
Your seller reputation is crucial to your survival on Amazon. Without positive ratings, Amazon is within their right to remove you from its platform as a seller for not upholding its Amazon policy of being a good seller for the platform.
Feedback Is Public
It is in your best interest to maintain positive feedback. The longevity of your business reputation may give you a better chance at owning the buy box over your competition. Even though this feedback may not show on a product's detail page, consumers can still access the reviews via your storefront's Amazon page. A reply to negative feedback within 24 hours that is concise and courteous can sway a potential consumer into buying from you by showing your business cares and is attentive to their dissatisfied customers.
How Can I Prevent Negative Feedback?
There are certain precautions you can take to decrease the amount of negative feedback. I will not say all negative feedback, as someone is always going to be upset no matter how much you do for them. Amazon encourages businesses to resolve customer complaints directly with the customer and request a change to their feedback after resolving the issue. I have not had much success with this myself with customers who are already angry with me. However, the customers who have not left feedback yet are ones you are targeting.
- Target customers who have not yet given feedback. You can stop someone from leaving a 1-2 star negative feed back if you resolve their issue in a timely way; with luck, they will either leave no feedback or upgrade their initial reaction to a 3 or higher.
- Take a look at your return process. Is it easy? The best scenario for customers is free return shipping for 30 days after purchase. No business likes returns—they can turn a high earning day into a mediocre one quickly—but they happen.
- Make sure you always have stock on hand if a customer insists on making an exchange. A stockout could mean the difference between a happy customer and a negative review.
- Ship faster. Are your products being received on time? If your products are being received late, look at your internal processes. Were orders shipped same day or next day? You should also check with your carrier if severe weather patterns or shipping delays were the issue.
- Improve communication. Is your customer service team available to respond within 24 hours of an order being placed? Incoming buyer messages can save you from the dreaded review of "Company never responded. They are a scam!" I hate this review with a passion, as any business owner does who has put in their time to make their company what it is.
How Can I Get More Customer Feedback?
There are legit ways of requesting Amazon feedback.
- Never pay someone to write reviews for you. This black hat tactic is the reason so many businesses were suspended indefinitely from Amazon.
- You can, however, make one request per order for the customer to leave feedback for your business. Do this a few days after a confirmed delivery.
- You can personalize the message or use the basic template Amazon provides.
- Do not spam the customer with feedback requests. One is enough to garner attention.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Drew Overholt