How to respond to negative feedback and reviews – in 5 simple steps

I wrote a post recently about how to get more reviews for your products.  Reviews give you social proof and added credibility. They also help other customers with their buying decision.  This is all great if the reviews you get are positive, but what if they’re not? Today I want to talk about how to respond to negative feedback and reviews.

First things first – create a great product

The best way to avoid getting (many) negative reviews (you can’t please everyone!) is to have a great product in the first place.

If you’ve researched your competitors, found out what your customers are after, and sourced a great quality product, you’ll have no problems here.

If not, you need to go back and look at this and ensure you’re confident that your product is as good as it can be.

I’ve shared before the story of how my first batch of swaddles had really poor quality boxes. This was the source of all my first negative reviews. Had I been smart, and fixed that issue before production, I would probably have been spared some of those…

If / when you get a negative review, here’s how to handle it, in 5 simple steps.

1. Own it

Here’s why:

  1. It’s your product and your brand, so you need to take accountability.  Even if you think the customer’s wrong (we’ll get to that later!) you still need to address it.
  2. There’s still time to rectify the situation and delight the customer.
  3. It’s great feedback for you – particularly if it’s consistent – as it shows you where you can improve.  Using my example above, getting reviews about my packaging made that a priority for the next order.

OWN IT Chipmunk Coach

2. Apologise

Maybe Royal Mail delivered a day too late and the customer’s unhappy.  Maybe your printer messed up and misspelt something. Maybe the box fell apart or something was missing.

Whether it’s your fault, or someone else’s, apologise – and mean it. Your customer won’t care who’s to blame.  All they know is that they’re unhappy and it’s your product they’re unhappy with.

3. Ask questions

Maybe you already have a good idea of what’s wrong, but if the feedback’s vague – i.e. ‘poor quality’  look into it a bit more.

Contact the customer (privately, or publicly, totally your call here) and ask if they can explain in more detail. Ask them how they think your product could be improved, or what they were expecting versus what they got.

It may not be your product that’s the problem (if indeed there is one), it might be something the in the product description that needs tweaking to be clearer.

Some people won’t respond to you (especially if you’re following up on an online review), but some will and their feedback will be invaluable.

4. If it’s broken – fix it

Let’s say, using my example again, that customers are complaining about your packaging. Look into fixing it for your next production run.

If they say delivery’s too slow or unreliable, look at changing how and who you ship with.

If your product’s quality is receiving complaints, feed this back to your supplier and see if they can improve.  If not, it might be time to look for someone else.

People are buying your product – which tells you they do want it. If it’s not meeting their expectations then hopefully a few small tweaks and it will be exactly what they’re looking for.

If it’s broken - fix it Chipmunk Coach

5. Talk about your improvements

If you’ve done the work and improved your product, based on your customer’s feedback, tell them about it!

You don’t need to contact everyone individually (although an email, hand-written note, or comment on their review to say “I listened to your feedback and I’ve now made this change.  Thank you for sharing your opinion and helping me to improve” (or something along those lines) might go down well!

You could also include something in your product description (‘new and improved packaging’ for example), or be really bold and do a post about it on social media, or your blog.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting something was wrong (if it was) and that you’ve taken steps to fix it.

If I were to add a sixth step…

It would be to move on. You’ve done all you can now.  Don’t dwell on it and DON’T take it personally.

Follow the same steps for refunds & return

Even if a customer doesn’t give you negative feedback, if they request a return or refund I suggest contacting them (I automatically send an email via Jumpsend) that says I’m sorry they feel they’ve had to do so and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.

99% of customers will reply and give a reason.  Sometimes it’ll be something can’t fix, sometimes it’ll be of no fault of your own (delivery for example), but if there’s something you can do – send out a replacement free of charge, for example, do it.  Goodwill goes a long way.

Most of the time, you’ll have avoided a bad review – as you’ve now taken the time to speak to the customer and put things right.

What if the feedback’s unfair?

If you feel that you’ve had negative feedback about something that you can’t control, then I’d suggest still responding and A, making that clear and B, still trying to fix the problem.

For example, if you sell on Amazon FBA and you receive a bad seller review due to long shipping times, that’s out of your control. Always challenge these instances with Amazon, so your rating isn’t affected – but also apologise to the customer, on behalf of Amazon too.

What if the customer’s wrong?

Tricky one, this…

What if the customer's wrong?

I know they say the customer’s always right, but, what if they’re not?

Even if you disagree with the feedback you’re getting, I’d still suggest replying.  Even if you feel it’s vastly unfair. You can’t please everyone, nor do you have to agree with then, but you can politely acknowledge that you’ve seen their feedback.

So, what do you think?  Do you feel more comfortable dealing with any negative feedback that might come your way?  I’m pretty sure it’s inevitable, which is why I feel it’s important to acknowledge it, fix it (if possible) and move on.