Negative Amazon reviews are painful–they can bring down your overall rating, damage your brand reputation, and thwart future customers. But they also feel inevitable, because every buyer will come with different expectations. So how do you deal with negative reviews?
Previously, Amazon allowed sellers to provide a custom response to any and all reviews to help mitigate this pain. A brand’s response appeared as a comment in a public thread on the initial review on the product listing page. This gave brands a way to support the customer further, while showing future customers that the brand was aware of the feedback, was working to make improvements, and cared about each customer’s experience.
Unfortunately, buyers weren’t regularly responding to seller comments trying to help the experience, meaning the feature wasn’t necessarily driving better customer support or resolving unfavorable reports.
In a bittersweet way, the ability to comment directly on reviews was retired by Amazon in December 2020. Bitter because removing the feature left brands feeling deflated and hopeless against resolving negative reviews and the issues causing them. Sweet because it paved the way for Amazon to launch a Contact Customer feature under the Customer Reviews tools.
You heard it right, Amazon provides a feature allowing sellers to respond directly to negative reviews to get more information from the buyer, offer a replacement, or offer a full refund.
Customer Reviews Contact Customer Feature
The Contact Customer feature allows brands to respond to negative reviews in seller central using a templated email. Brands have the option between 2 Amazon created templates: One that offers a replacement or refund, and another that asks for more information.
The templated emails are not customizable, but offer a starting point to allow sellers to contact unhappy buyers. If the customer chooses to respond to a seller’s initial email, the response will show in the messages section of seller central and the seller can then respond freely, no templates necessary.
This feature can help drive results because sellers are reaching out to buyers directly via email, instead of hoping a customer checks their previous negative reviews for responses.
What is a Negative Review?
Any review that received a 1, 2, or 3 star rating is eligible for the Contact Customer feature. If a review is eligible it will show in the right hand corner of the review in the Customer Reviews section of seller central.
If a review received 4 or 5 stars, a message will be displayed in the right hand corner letting sellers know the review is not eligible for the feature.
Contact Customer Feature Restrictions
To access this feature you must be a registered brand with Amazon. Adding yet another benefit to the analytics, advertising, A+ Content, and more of Brand Registry. (If Brand Registry is your only barrier to the feature, get in touch today to see how we can help)
Brands are also only able to respond to negative reviews that occurred within the last 6 months, so checking reviews and responding in a timely manner is a must.
Pros of the Contact Customer feature
The ability to contact customers directly has the potential to benefit sellers greatly. Responding to an unhappy buyer and resolving their issues may result in that buyer removing their negative review, or even better, changing it into a positive one.
Since you can’t remove negative reviews, helping the customer to have a better experience and rethink their negative review is your best option. And, because Amazon is the gatekeeper of customer contact information there is no way for sellers to reach out to disgruntled buyers outside of the feature.
But even if the buyer doesn’t change or remove their review–and even if they don’t respond to your message–if the buyer sees the email attempting to provide a solution for their grievance this can positively impact the way they view your brand going forward, which boosts your brand reputation.
Cons of the Contact Customer feature
While emailing buyers is a more direct approach to solving their problems, emails can be easily lost or ignored in our digital age. On top of that, these emails are not public, so even when you do your best to resolve the issues raised in the negative review, future customers won’t know.
Previously, when sellers could comment on reviews, prospective customers could see how a brand responded to any down-sides mentioned in a negative review and weigh the brand’s response against the criticism. Now the resolution is between the buyer and seller alone.
Amazon customers also have the option to opt out of all communications from sellers. So, if a buyer has opted out of these communications then the option to contact the customer will not be available. And, unfortunately, there is a good percentage of customers who have opted out.
How to Send a Response Using the Contact Customer Feature
To use the Contact Customer feature open the main navigation in Seller Central and select brands and then Customer Reviews.
Once on the customer reviews page you can sort reviews by star rating and select 1, 2, and 3 stars.
After you have sorted by stars you will see all reviews that have the potential for the Contact Customer email. The feature availability will be displayed in the top right corner. If the customer has opted out of messaging you will see ‘Unable to Contact Customer’ and if the review is 4 or 5 stars you will see ‘Great job! Reply not needed.’
But if the option is available, you will see ‘Contact Customer’ which you can click to select which email template you’d like to send.
If you select the Courtesy refund you will see a templated email offering a replacement or refund, depending on the customer’s request in their response.
If you select the Customer review email you will see a templated email letting the customer know you’d like to address their concerns.
Once you have decided which email to send, you simply click ‘send’ in the bottom right corner. It’s that easy!
Is this a better way to manage negative reviews?
While every consumer can have a unique perspective on how they want their concerns handled, Amazon offering more options for buyer-seller communications is a win in itself.
Looking for help managing your reviews and customer experience? We’d love to set you up with a brand manager who can help manage your marketplace information, optimize your listings, and handle negative reviews and customer support.