Today Scott shares strategies for Amazon sellers on how to get negative product reviews and seller feedback removed from your Amazon product listings.
If you've ever received a negative product review or negative seller feedback on your Amazon listings then you definitely need to listen to this episode.
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Get involved and ask a question about selling on Amazon and Chris may answer your question live on a future episode of Sellercast. Also, if you think you'd be a good guest for the Sellercast podcast feel free to tell us more about you and your company here.
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If you'd like to get more reviews for your products on Amazon check out Salesbacker.
Intro: Hello, everyone. Chris Guthrie here, host of Sellercast. In today’s episode, we answer the question, “How do you get rid of negative seller feedback and negative product reviews. There are a few different strategies out there that you may not be aware of and a few golden nuggets within this episode from my guest Scott, who’s from feedbackrepair.com. So let’s go ahead and listen to this episode. I’m sure you’re going to get some good strategies that you can use to help avoid these pesky situations where you have negative seller feedback or negative product reviews that you want to take care of. So let’s have a listen and let me know what you think by going to Sellercast.com if you want to share comments in the podcast notes as well.
Chris Guthrie: Hello, everyone. Chris Guthrie here. And today we have Scott from feedbackrepair.com to talk about avoiding negative seller feedback, negative reviews, and also how to deal with them if you manage getting those. Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott: Hey, thank you. Good to be here.
Chris Guthrie: I know that you do this for a living. That’s what you do. You help people with dealing with negative feedback, negative reviews etc. But before we get into that, can you tell me if you’ve been selling products on Amazon before as well?
Scott: Sure. I’ve been selling on Amazon since January of 2012. And of course, I’ve been selling on eBay as well since 2002. And I have a couple of other ventures that I’ve been working on. There’s one that’s Amazon product research. It’s indbl.com. And a few other things along the same lines. It’s been a lot of fun, and that brought me to the point where I am now.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. Let’s focus on the Amazon side. 2012 is when you started selling. Were you primarily reselling other products? Or were you doing private label.
Scott: Well, I’ve dipped my toe into about every type of reselling that you can imagine as far as OA or RA or private label, wholesale, bundles, all of it.
Chris Guthrie: Just to jump in there, for people that don’t know, can you explain the other acronyms?
Scott: Yeah, online arbitrate, retail arbitrate, wholesale, and bundles is just taking in any combination of those things or even something else, and then wrapping them up into new product that you’d use to differentiate what it is that you’re offering.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. Are bundles primarily what you’re doing right now when you are selling?
Scott: No, I’m still doing basically all of those things. I look at it as my own private mutual fund, portfolio against having any one of those things not work well.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay, cool. So you started selling in 2012. What made you decide to get into the service side of the business and helping other sellers who have problems with negative feedback, negative reviews, and want to have someone that can deal with those for them?
Scott: Sure. I started getting some negative feedback myself. I was getting that feedback and didn’t feel like I deserved it. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I knew what I was doing. And it just finally occurred to me that there’s something wrong with this system. There’s nothing wrong with me or what I’m doing—I mean not that there couldn’t be, but I just felt like it was undeserved. So the more I dug into that, the more research I did, the more I realized that I didn’t have to live with the negative feedback that I’d already tried to remove on my own. And when I cleaned up my own feedback and got back to 100 percent, I started to look into whether it’s possible to do this for other people or other sellers experienced in the same type of issues. So the more I did it, the better I got.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. I know that a lot of people listening are most likely using FBA for shipping and handling the fulfillment from Amazon doing that. I know a lot of cases, they handle a lot of the negative feedback. We’re going to get to those scenarios as well. Could you describe what some other common strategies are to get rid of negative seller feedback for people that might be doing reselling or they’re doing a hybrid of reselling and private label, so they have to deal with some of those negative seller feedback issues that come up.
Scott: Sure. Well, a lot of the private label sellers are already doing the very best thing that they could be, which is FBA. Most of my clients who are private-label really don’t have much trouble in the way of negative feedback because of the fact that they’re protected through FBA. So I recommend that to everybody, whether they’re not familiar with FBA or are. But one of the other things that I certainly recommend beyond FBA is you can do so much to protect your account simply by doing everything you can to divert customers from going to Amazon with their complaints or concerns or questions. So if you’re making yourself as accessible as possible through the contact methods that you offer through Amazon, and if you’re including inserts in every single one of the products that you have that ship out, those are some of the best things that you can do to protect your account beyond what you’re offering, proactively asking for additional positive reviews and positive feedback.
And then of course there are things that you can do that are beyond that. I have an e-book on the topic that talks about some of the things that you can do in the way of email, phone calls, and letters, or obviously contacting Amazon directly when there is a negative feedback that shows up, and what kinds of approaches there are that you can deploy to get that taken care of.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. Can we dive into some of those strategies? If you have to do phone calls or emails, what do you typically suggest? I think that a lot of times when I talk to people, they’re just afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing and then having that backfire. I think that’s the biggest reason why people don’t try and get rid of some of the negative feedback. Or in this case, I guess we’re kind of transitioning into talking about reviews. Can you go into some of those a little more in depth?
Scott: And when you say transitioning, in one sense, yeah, obviously, they’re very much different. They’re handled very differently by Amazon. But the approach as a seller is somewhat similar in a lot of ways, and that is, obviously, the first thing that you want to do when you’re getting a hold of a customer is apologize. They’ve had a bad experience. They came to Amazon looking to get something quickly and to have a great experience there be a seamless transaction. And something happened in the midst of all that. And you got caught up. And it was either your fault or it was something wrong with your product or something wrong with the shipping process. And you’ve got to smooth all that over because you’re the one who’s being held responsible for it by them through their feedback or their negative review. So obviously, the first thing to do is apologize. And that helps defuse the situation. But beyond that, then you can start to figure out through interacting with them. It could be a phone call, which is what I like that the best because you can get the best feedback, the fastest, and really get a feel for the situation. Whereas if you’re using email or using letters, it’s just a lot less responsive and requires a lot more patience on your part. And there are so many things that you don’t know. You can’t hear what somebody is saying. You can’t hear the tone, all that sort of thing. There are certain aspects of talking to somebody on the phone that are really difficult to navigate as well, for one thing, getting a hold of somebody. Another thing, people don’t want to be interrupted. They wanted this process to go smoothly from the get-go. And then all of a sudden, here they’re having to put up you interrupting whatever it is that they’re doing. If they’re having dinner or whatever, they’re viewing that as an additional negative part of their experience. And you’ve got to be able to get across very quickly that you’re there to help. You’re there to try to fix things. You’re there to apologize, let them know that you’re sorry for what happened, try to figure out what happened, what you can do to make it better, and then basically turn the whole experience around as much as possible and leave them with something that feels satisfactory.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. I actually want to latch onto some of the strategies that you talked about when dealing with phone calls. I know that a lot of people might be just oh wow, call someone. I understand I can send them an email. And these days, people are so used to getting emails. But I know from my own Amazon shopping experience, I’ve never received a phone call from a seller. And not everything I’ve bought is Amazon Prime. Sometimes it’s from other sellers. And sometimes it’s from people that are doing private label or whatever. But I’ve never received a phone call. So from the standpoint of what do you say to someone beyond, “Okay, I’m really sorry for the issues.” Is there a specific time that you should call to avoid those scenarios of calling them during dinner? I know obviously, there are different time zones involved. Do you know if there’s a time you’ve seen from either talking to your clients or others that is the best time to call, to have the least likely chances on being upset that they’re getting a phone call in the first place?
Scott: Well, I do try to weigh all that. I look at where the customer is located. I look at whether they’re male or female. I look at what they purchase and what the value is of that purchase. And I try to weigh all those different things and do a little bit of that background research in advance to know what’s the likelihood of this product that it was used for themselves. What’s the likelihood that it was a gift? How much did it cost them? How much were they put out by not being a perfect transaction? I try to weigh all those different things. And if it’s a female customer, I try to have male caller matched up and vice versa, male customer, I try to have a female caller matched up. And that seems to make a difference overall.
Chris Guthrie: Just to jump in there, it’s one of those things where – that’s just from your experience, but it’s kind of tough to provide data, time that together.
Scott: Yeah, it’s hard to quantify. I mean it’s a little bit anecdotal. But I’d say experientially, it’s a better result. I don’t know if it’s sociology, psychology, mix all together. It’s hard to say. But it just seems to be a better result. And I generally would try to call. I’m going to assume that most of the time these customers —and sometimes you can tell differently—I’m going to assume that they go to work. And they’re going to get home around 5:30 their time, whatever time zone that is. So I’m going to try to shoot a call in that time and see if I can catch them. I’m not going to necessarily try to take care of everything all at that one moment. And I’m going to see if they’re available. If they’re not, I’m going to offer to call back at a more convenient time. But the biggest thing I want to get across to them immediately is I am try to take care of the situation that they are dealing with where they had a negative experience on Amazon. And I just want to follow up on that sale and let them know, “Hey, we’re sorry that got messed up.” I mean it’s helpful, obviously, to be a little bit more specific about what it is if you know what was wrong. Sometimes you can try to ascertain that right then and there. Sometimes you can not really delve into the specifics, but just try to do everything you can and it takes it from that point forward. And you don’t know going into the call unless you’ve done the research and it’s plainly obvious what is it exactly that the customer is looking for at this point. Do they want a replacement? Do they want a refund? Are they happy with an apology? When I’ve called customers, I’ve never had one poorly receive the call. You can tell sometimes, okay, somebody is really busy. They don’t really want to be on the phone. But none of them just get angry and hang up. Most of the time, they’re pretty ecstatic at the fact that wow, this nameless, faceless, anonymous corporation cares. They care about me and they care about this transaction and they want to take care of it. And people are pretty responsive to that.
Chris Guthrie: Okay, cool. That makes sense. And I think definitely making sure that you look up the orders to see where they purchased it from, what state, and those tips you gave about whether or not it looks like it’s a gift or something they might use themselves. I know that in some cases, it can be a bit more difficult to tell. But if it’s a children’s toy, then most likely it’s a gift.
Talking about feedback, I’d like to ask a little bit more on that. I know that most of our listeners are likely doing Amazon FBA. So one of the most common strategies to remove seller feedback is if the seller feedback is – Well, when it’s complaining about the order, then Amazon most likely automatically remove the feedback using their algorithm. But if there’s a complaint about the product in terms of it being basically a negative review left at seller feedback, then you can always go in and get those removed. Are there other strategies to get seller feedback removed for FBA sellers, or are those the main ones? If there are other strategies, maybe you could share a few of those. And we can shift over and talk about reviews.
Scott: Right. A lot of the time, you can get a review or a regular feedback removed for reasons that do not fit within the structure of what Amazon is telling you they will remove them for. It’s kind of a roundabout way of saying you don’t have to stick to the rules. And that happens quite a bit. There are a few times when the chances of you getting that review or feedback removed – I keep saying interchangeably reviews and feedback. There is obviously a huge difference. The chance of getting a review removed is fairly unlikely. I mean I’ve done it before. But I never guarantee that because I never know if it’s going to happen or not. But more often than not, I know a feedback is going to be removed. I can tell. I can assess what’s going to happen. And the ways that you have available to get them removed are broader than what they tell you. That’s what I can say about that. You can have them removed for other reasons besides the ones that they give you. And it’s just gosh, I perfected that over time to the point where 80 percent of the time, I’m going to get it removed. Then again, I’ve seen other instances where that doesn’t apply, and the reason why is because some of those things that you do aren’t likely to fit into the category of them authorizing a removal. If there’s a problem with shipping or if they didn’t receive their product or if they received it late or if it was damaged, most of those reasons, most of those times, you’re not going to get that removed. And it’s just going to require a contact to the customer directly.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. Let’s shift a little bit to reviews. I know that one of the strategies we talk about for people that are using Salesbacker is that in your email sequence, you can have the first email go out asking for seller feedback. And then if that customer leaves you negative feedback – and most likely, they’re leaving you a negative feedback as a product review because a lot of times, customers don’t even know the difference between seller feedback and negative reviews. In the case of Salesbacker, we can automatically turn off the campaign so that your future emails won’t go out where you’re going to ask them for a review. But if they leave you positive feedback, they’ll continue to receive the rest of the emails in your sequence, and that’s where you’re asking for the product review. So that’s one of the ways that I know that people can help on the seller feedback side and filtering out those people that might be angry before they even see those.
What are some strategies you’ve seen for getting reviews removed? Does this go back to our other conversation about using the phone call? And there are different ways you can find who it was that ordered that to find them to call them. Or are there other strategies that you can do? I know sometimes in more competitive categories, people are leaving fake negative reviews, whether they’re competitors or whatever. Is it the same type of game in terms of removing negative reviews as negative seller feedback? Or is it a lot more difficult?
Scott: Well, it is more difficult, for sure. And I think it’s a longer game. You don’t get an immediate response sometimes. And I think Amazon is far less responsive. Even if you think you should legitimately be able to get a review removed, Amazon is far less likely to do it. And they’re far less dependable to do it. Even if they tell you they’re going to do it, sometimes they will say they’re going to remove it. Or even if a customer goes in and actually removes a review and you were successful at getting them to do that, sometimes Amazon won’t do it. So I would say it’s not as sure of a deal. Now if you were to go read the e-book that I put out on removing negative feedback, again, a lot of those same tactics and strategies can be deployed for reviews in terms of what you’re thinking when you contact the customer through either a letter or an email or phone call. But there are other specific strategies for reviews, and I do tell those in the blog post. I can cover some of that if you want.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. What I’ll do is I’ll link to those resources in the show notes. But for people that are listening right now, if you can go over some of those, that’d be great. And people can probably get more info from those as well.
Scott: Right. One of the things you can do is you can over-refund. Amazon allows you to refund up to $20 over the amount that a customer paid when you’re providing refund to that customer.
Chris Guthrie: I like that.
Scott: Yeah. And frankly, you would gladly get rid of that review for $20. You can’t quibble over $20. But one thing you can’t do is you can’t demand that they change their review in exchange for the refund. You can’t really reference that. You have to hope that they feel guilty or feel some sort of obligation that they’ve become more satisfied than they were and go ahead and remove or update their review. But there are some good results. Maybe 30 percent of the time, that could result in somebody modifying their review. Another thing you can do is if you’re able to find the original order number – and it’s a true order. It’s not somebody making it up or competitor or whatever, which happens more often than not, unfortunately. Especially if you’re in a competitive category, if you have a particularly good product, you’re going to incur that kind of attention to your listing. But if you’re able to find the original order number and then you’re able to get the phone number, you may be able to deploy some of these other tactics to get a hold of that customer and try to fix the situation if you have a real situation to be fixed. If the situation is not real or you cannot find that customer, then one of the very best things I think you can do is to leave a comment on that review. And you just have to be very careful what comments you leave and what the tone is. I mean essentially, especially if the review isn’t real, you’re not really helping that particular customer. What you’re really doing is you’re posting something that’s helpful that all of the potential customers have the opportunity to see. And what you want to do is humanize yourself, apologize for the situation, and let anybody else who’s reading these reviews know that you’re there to help them, that you’re there to provide support, that you’re there to make good on the warranty, that you’re there to provide a refund, answer questions, anything like that. You want to make sure that you use that as an opportunity not to be defensive, of course, but to let people know that hey, you stand behind this product. And if anybody else buys it, they’re going to receive your support.
Chris Guthrie: I think that’s a good point there. And I do this too on the reviews. I always comment on 3-star and below reviews. That’s the threshold I usually do. I think especially for newer sellers, people kind of get frustrated or they take offense to it. Someone is saying something negative...
Scott: Yeah, this is your baby.
Chris Guthrie: Exactly. And it just comes back to being willing to humble yourself to anonymous people that are angry at you, with the world, or whatever it may be, and they’ve decided to take it out on your product. Sometimes it could be justified. And more often than not, probably, it’s not justified. But there are those people out there that, for whatever reason, like to get very upset. I’ve seen plenty of them myself. So I think that’s a great point. And honestly too, that makes sense. Obviously, you’re going to increase your conversion of people that are shopping for your product, see those reviews, and then see, okay, you’re commenting on the negative reviews. You’re being apologetic. You’re giving an option for them to contact you and then offering to make it right, so that all sounds great.
Scott: You can do more. You’re not limited to those options. Obviously, building your business and growing the number of reviews and doing things that are going to result in new sales, all those sorts of things, investing in new product offerings, new branding, whatever—all that is what you really want to spend your energy on. You don’t want to spend much energy on the negative reviews and negative feedback. And very obviously, one of the best ways you can prevent any of that is to have a good product. And I hate to say that because I’ve had some customers that are looking for some help. And the problem is they have a horrible product. And I don’t even want to tell them that. I sort of hint around it in what can you do to improve this. And I’ve given people some very good and actionable advice about what can they do on the next door. Let’s say this order was their preliminary order for 300, and they got all these negatives. And they started getting negatives when they started having organic sales, when these are items that weren’t sent out at a discount or in exchange for a review. And all of a sudden, reality hits, and they start getting honest feedback for the first time. And maybe they didn’t spend the time that they needed to up front to get samples and to test these out and to look at them for themselves and see what people do with these things in the real world. And all of a sudden, the stuff starts to break or doesn’t perform as expected. You want to make sure that you go through all the right steps to find out if this product from this manufacturer is quality. And you want to do something that differentiates you from everybody else who’s piling onto the same popular products. That helps tremendously. You can avoid a lot of these things. Now at the same time, if you’ve got a great product that’s really hitting it in terms of velocity and searchability and you’re getting all kinds of great feedback or great reviews, then you’re going to have people nipping at your heels. And you’re going to have people deploying these nefarious tactics to try to take you down and keep you from sealing their sales. And you’ve got to be able to be defensive on that and take care of things this way on other side of things, despite the fact that you really don’t want to be focusing on this stuff. It’s a both-end deal. Obviously, one of those things that you can do to protect yourself is to just get a boatload of 5-star reviews. That helps bury the negativity, and it blunts the effect that a negative would have.
Chris Guthrie: Definitely. I’ve seen negative reviews when they first hit and they’re listed as most recent. And the page conversions will drop. So if you need to do some type of promotion, whatever it may be, to help get a bunch of more reviews really quickly, then that’s one way you can do it.
Another thing you touched on that I just wanted to clarify for people that might be listening is you want to make sure that if you do any types of giveaways that – the people that give you those reviews, make sure they disclose that they received the product for free or at a discounted rate in exchange for a review. Make sure to have a disclosure on there because Amazon can remove that because they’ll see if products were purchased via coupon code and if it doesn’t have the disclaimer, then Amazon is most likely going to remove it. So just keep that in mind as well.
Scott: I’ll tell you along those same lines one thing I heard today. That’s one of the reasons why I still sell on Amazon—not that it’s a significant income stream, but it keeps me fresh and it keeps me experiencing the same things that my customers experience in terms of pain and what they’re dealing with. One of the things I heard today that I hadn’t heard before was when you receive a product, you’re not supposed to leave a review for at least seven days after you’ve received it. So there’s potentially some sort of buffer zone there where Amazon is being a little bit more stringent about what they do in terms of automatic removal of reviews if it’s being left prior to seven days.
Chris Guthrie: It’s interesting. I haven’t heard that one. But I know that the way that they use their algorithm, it’s continuously updating. But I haven’t heard that one before. And I’m not seeing that in particular but…
Scott: I haven’t either, but it’s just something good to keep in mind.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. I guess that’s just something to be aware of for people that are listening. We’re nearing the end of our time, but I wanted to just spend briefly a little bit of time talking about the strategies that you can use to remove seller feedback or product reviews that are against Amazon in terms of service. These are things people should not do. Just to reemphasize, do not do these things. Are there strategies that you see people try — and they’re thinking they’re being clever — but it’s actually against Amazon’s terms of service?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. You can get no votes on reviews that help hide a review, and I think that’s helpful. But I’ve heard it takes maybe as many as 100 to basically hide that review or even strengthen your case with Amazon to have it removed. But I would say that that’s one of the things that you don’t want to do in terms of I know of a company that will allow you to buy negatives. You don’t want to go out and do something like that. It would be specifically against the Amazon terms of service. You can actually buy reviews, and you can actually buy no votes. And while you could do that, and you could probably get away with it, I just wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth the potential damage to your account. But there are other things you can do to blow up your reviews as well. And I don’t see a lot of people doing it, but I recommend promos and giveaways, not just on Facebook, which you hear a lot about, but also on something like LivingSocial or Slickdeals or DealNews or Woot or FatWallet or Brad’s Deals. You can get pretty deep into that. And you can also spread those things sort of evenly amongst those so you’re not having to give away 500 units in order to get that kind of response and that kind of velocity.
Chris Guthrie: And just to clarify too, one of the things I wanted to mention—and I think we talked about this before, and this is another strategy not to do because again, it’s against Amazon’s terms of service—is don’t offer incentive for a review. Don’t offer a discount on product or a removal of refund or partial refund on a product to get a review. All those things are against Amazon’s terms of service.
Scott: Yeah, you have to be very careful about that. Like I said earlier, you really want to include an insert with all of your products that go out. But you don’t want to tie anything that you’re saying in an insert toward something that could be conceived of as bribery or asking for a 5-star review. You want to ask for honest feedback, but you want to ask them to contact you if there are any issues. Now I see a lot of instances where somebody is asking for 5-star reviews. And that’s really not something you should be asking for.
Chris Guthrie: That’s all good. And I think the biggest thing really—I’m just wrapping up this part on what not to do—is if you ultimately think that it’s somewhat shady, it’s probably something you shouldn’t do. Now for those people that don’t have a stringent moral compass, make sure you listen back to that section where we talked about that because you want to make sure that you don’t get into trouble doing those things, because the last thing you want to do is get your Amazon seller account banned and lose that income stream and lose a big chunk of your business if you’re only selling on Amazon.
Scott: There are more things along those lines that people really should be paying attention to in terms of jeopardizing their account. And even if your moral compass isn’t such that it would normally prevent you from doing those things, it just makes sense to not do those things because it’s not worth the jeopardy to your account.
Another thing I want to put in there because I’ve heard of people doing this a lot as well is they send out their initial products to friends and family. You don’t want to do that. They’re cracking down on that. So you can send it out to friends, but I wouldn’t send it out to anybody who could be related to you or considered to be related to you because those reviews will get removed.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s something that they recently updated in their terms of service a few months back. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but that was something that people use to advocate a lot. And it makes sense that Amazon has made steps to avoid that. And in a lot of cases, they’re using some sophisticated methods to figure out those relationships and to make sure those reviews don’t display. Another great point.
Scott, I want to thank you so much for coming and talking about some of the strategies. For people listening, you can check out the show notes. They’ll have links to the e-book and blog posts and some other resources that Scott mentioned. And just thank you so much again for coming on and giving some strategies for people to help avoid these situations.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the time.
Chris Guthrie: Thanks, Scott.
Scott: All right, take care.
Outro: All right, that’s the episode with Scott. If you want to check out the show notes, you can go to Sellercast.com/6 to check out some of the resources that were mentioned. And again, we talked a lot about getting feedback removed, reviews removed, strategies to deal with what happens if you do get reviews that are bad. And so again, a lot of the ways you can combat that is just by simply getting a lot of extra reviews. One of the best ways you can do that is with the tool that we built, Salesbacker. And you can go to Sellercast.com/now to check out a 60-day free trial of the tool that we built. You don’t need a credit card or anything like that to get going. You just sign up, pick a campaign, and you can start sending emails right away to your customers on Amazon to help you get more reviews. And that’s one of the best ways to help defend against negative reviews. Just simply push them out of the way with a bunch of natural, organic, positive reviews.
Thank you so much again for listening, and have a great rest of your day.