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Today my feedback is at (gasp!) 86%. I’m usually at 95%-97% so I freaked out, right? No. I’ll have it back up within a few days. Negative feedback is normal when you are selling hundreds of items a month. The unfortunate fact is most people don’t give feedback unless they are unhappy about something. The trick is to turn those frowns upside down and keep your rating in the mid-to-high 90s. In today’s post, I write about how to deal with unhappy customers. I give specific examples of emails I’ve written and approaches I’ve taken to get my feedback rating back up again.

Does Feedback Matter?

Absolutely! Good feedback makes you a better seller and is worth the hassle of having to deal with an occasional unhappy customer.

Feedback on Amazon does not matter as much as it does on eBay in the sense that many people will buy without reading specific feedback comments.  They trust Amazon. However, if your rating drops below 80%, you will get a notice from Amazon that your account will be closed if you don’t fix the problem quickly. In addition, if your feedback is below 80%, that’s quite a few unhappy customers and you need to find out what is going on.

Where is my Feedback?

When you login to your SellerCentral account, look on the left-hand side of the screen and you will see a summary. From there you can click to see the full report of your feedback.

In addition, you can go to the full feedback details from the menu of your SellerCentral. Click on “Performance” and then “Feedback.”

For my feedback, you’ll notice the difference between lifetime and current ratings. This tells you that I’ve been able to get enough of my negative feedback resolved to keep my overall rate to about 3%.

To see the details, you can download a report to your computer or view it on screen.

What Can I Do to Remove Poor Feedback?

  1. Respond. The first thing you should do when you see you have negative or neutral feedback (Amazon considers “neutral=negative” by the way) is respond so that potential buyers see you as responsive. Amazon keeps track of all your responses and emails with a customer. Even if your customer is unwilling to change their feedback, Amazon knows you are responsive and sincere in how you treat your mutual customers so be sure to respond.
  2. Email. Amazon allows you to email the buyer through its system. If you click on “resolve” under the complaint, then you will be taken to a page where you can send your email. Be sure to read Amazon’s rules! Don’t include any kind of link that takes the buyer away from Amazon. Don’t offer bribes to change feedback. Focus on making them happy in this first email.
  3. Feedback Removal Instructions. Only the buyer can remove his or her feedback. Be sure to make it easy and send instructions after you have addressed the issue. Here’s what I usually send:

The “Your Account” page appears.

  •  Next to”View by Order,” click the scroll box to select orders, then click Go.

A list of orders appears.

  • Locate the order, and then scroll to the feedback section.

A “Remove” link appears on the right side of the order.

  • Click Remove.

The Remove Feedback page appears:

  • Select “The seller resolved the problem” or whatever best fits for removing the feedback and then click “Remove Feedback.”

The feedback is removed.

  1. Contact Amazon. Sometimes the problem is Amazon’s shipping or warehouse snafu like when my customer ordered a hardback from me and got a paperback – that was clearly a warehouse issue since I don’t have a paperback version. They eventually found my copy in the warehouse. Amazon will generally catch these kinds of feedback themselves. If it is their fault, they will remove the negative points from your overall score.
  2. Increase Positive Feedback. Although this won’t fix negative feedback, the more positive feedback you have, the less of an impact an occasional response will have on your score. You can do this manually by emailing your customers shortly after they’ve likely received the product, or you can use a service like www.feedbackfive.com to do it for you. They have a free trial. 

If I’m soliciting positive feedback manually, I generally choose my customers who expedited their orders to two-day or one-day shipping. They are most likely to be happy. I also send them an email within a few days after they should have received it to remind them while they are still remembering the product they ordered.

Hi XXX,

Thank you very much for your recent order. I hope you are enjoying your copy of XXXX. If you have a moment, I would greatly appreciate your feedback on whether or not the book arrived on time and as you expected it.

Feedback helps me to be a better seller and lets other customers know what to expect from me. It also gives me a chance to address any unexpected issues that might come up during the warehousing and shipping process. Thanks again.

Warm regards,

Cynthia Stine

Note: Amazon automatically sends a feedback request to all your customers about 2 weeks after the order. Any email you send will be in addition to that email.

What Do I Say?

Depending on the situation, I have several letter templates that I use. The things you want to remember most are to be sympathetic, cheerful, polite and positive. If the buyer is unhappy with the product, sympathize with them. Don’t you hate it when you get something and it is not what you thought it would be?

Cheerful, polite and positive come from knowing you can help. No matter how nasty the review, you are willing to help. It goes a long way. If the mistake is on the part of the customer, I point it out to them in a polite way. I do this to trigger their sense of fairness. If, for example, my description said that the book cover was torn, I’ll point it out to them AND I’ll offer to make it right for them.

Ok, let’s look at some particular situations.

  • Product review. This person was mad about product performance. If the item was new, then this problem has nothing to do with you.

What I usually do is sympathize (sounds awful!) and then encourage them to share their experience with other potential buyers as a product review rather than a seller review. I explain that the seller review is about getting their product on time and in good condition and that I am not the manufacturer and have no control over their product. Most times, they are willing to remove the feedback. This person didn’t, obviously, but many others have in the past. I usually include instructions for writing a product review in addition to the feedback removal.

  • 3=”Satisfied.” This is the case where the person is satisfied and uses the “3” to indicate “satisfied.” Here’s the letter I tweak for those situations. Note that the bolded part I use in many letters:

I hope you are enjoying your XXXX. I noticed you gave me a “3” for feedback. Many people use a “3” to mean they are satisfied. You may not know it, but the way Amazon has the feedback system set up, a “neutral” 3 rating is just as detrimental to my overall rating as a “negative” 1 rating. Amazon lumps all the 3’s, 2’s, and 1’s together and then subtracts them (as unsatisfactory) from our overall feedback percentage.

Your feedback rating of “3” damages my overall feedback score and implies to others that I am not prompt at shipping my orders or that there is a dispute I am unwilling to resolve. Amazon encourages all merchants to resolve issues that resulted in negative feedback. I hope you will consider removing your feedback. You are not under any obligation, but if you choose to do so, the instructions are listed below:

[feedback removal directions]

If you meant the “3” to indicate dissatisfaction, I would very much like to know how I could have made your experience better and how I can improve in the future. Thank you so much for reading this email and for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Stine

  • Fulfillment problem. In this case, I might give them the phone number to Amazon customer service and I remind them that Amazon is fulfilling the package. I ask them to let me know if the problem is not resolved quickly. Normally Amazon will take responsibility for this issue so I don’t need to do anything else.

  • Poor condition. You may disagree with the seller about the condition of your product, but you don’t know what happened during the shipping, warehousing and shipping process. I never argue with the customer. I sympathize, apologize and I offer to make it right for them. Depending on the severity of the issue, I might offer a partial or full refund and allow them to keep the item. This is better than what Amazon offers because they don’t have to return it to get their money back. I use this strategy for relatively inexpensive items (under $50, say). For others I might suggest they call Amazon for a refund and I give them the customer service number. Why? Because in this case I’ll get the product back from Amazon eventually and I may be able to re-sell it on Amazon or eBay.

In this recent situation with the inks, I know the product is exactly what she ordered but with an alternative box. It will fit in her printer. I did not see an expiration date on the box so this is my mistake. I wouldn’t have bought it if I knew it was expired. I offered her a full refund, an apology and my sympathy:

Dear XXX,

I’m so sorry that the ink did not perform to your expectations (in both cases). Amazon encourages its sellers to resolve all customer issues and I would like the opportunity to try and make this right for you.

On Amazon, we list items by barcode to insure that we have the correct product/listing. It has been awhile, but I thought there was an alternate picture on Amazon showing my box. Again, I am sorry that you felt misled. It was not my intention. If the ink is not performing, I am happy to issue you a refund. Amazon will refund your money, too, of course, but in my case you do not need to send the item back. Let me know how you would like to proceed. I can get a check in the mail by tomorrow.

Best regards,

Cynthia Stine

If they respond, I’ll send the check and another email requesting feedback removal. I have the person’s address as part of the order but not a phone number. If they don’t respond, there’s nothing else to do.

  • Not expected. I had one woman who ordered a set of pacifiers and even though the description on Amazon said “assorted colors,” she wanted pink and was unhappy. I offered her a 50% refund for her “natural disappointment” and she responded that was too much and how about $2? So, I sent her $2 and she removed her feedback the day she got the check. She just wanted to know someone cared. I still made money on the item.

I had another customer who wanted a “mouse” and got a “cow.” Even though the description on Amazon clearly said “cow or mouse” and the picture showed both. Here’s the letter I sent him. The parts in bold are statements I use in many of my letters:

I’m sorry that you are unhappy with your recent purchase from me. In the product description on Amazon’s site, it states that this item is an assortment of cows and mice:

Product Features

    A great way to encourage baby to crawl-3 months +

    2 AA batteries are included with this toy

    This toy has high/low volume control and automatic shut off after 15 seconds

    This colorful soft toy has a musical feature

    Item is a assortment – Cow and Mouse

I regret that your cow arrived in poor condition. It was brand new when I sent it to the warehouse and I strongly urge you to request a refund from them (me, essentially, since they will take it from my account) and to order another one from any seller you desire. Neither Amazon nor I can guarantee it will be a mouse, but hopefully it will be in the perfect condition that you have every right to expect and that you deserve. If you don’t get satisfaction from Amazon, please contact me and I will make sure you get a refund.

If this solution resolves your problem, I would greatly appreciate it if you would consider removing your negative feedback and noting that the problem was resolved. As a seller, I pride myself on my responsiveness to any issues that come up and by doing this it will indicate to other customers and Amazon that I care about the products I sell and my customers’ experience. I’ve listed instructions below. Thank you for your consideration and – most importantly – thank you for letting me know about your dissatisfaction so I have a chance to resolve it.

[feedback removal directions]

Sincerely,

Cynthia Stine

Don’t Forget…

  • Some people will never be satisfied – let it go.
  • Some people are liars – move on, you have money to make.
  • Some people are confused – help them if you can.
  • Some people are absolutely right – pay attention.

If you are getting many negative responses about your used book conditions or a pattern like that, you may be doing something wrong. You may need to be more conservative in how you list or more detailed about imperfections. You may need to be more careful (like me) in checking for expiration dates on ink cartridges (who knew?).

Be grateful for the feedback and gracious with your customers. It pays off in many ways. If nothing else, you will feel good about yourself as a seller.

Happy selling!

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