Amazon product reviews… the lifeline that boosts sales into success celebrations or kicks listings all the way back into the bane of page 20. When sellers launch a product, reviews shorten the lag time between unknown and popular. Product reviews influence conversion rates so strongly that they are a sellers’ powerful tool of transformation from zero to quit-my-day-job income.
There are basic pro-active steps sellers take to make sustainable success possible:
- A high-quality product that earns rave product reviews;
- An outstanding product detail page that leaves no buyer doubts; and,
- Customer service fit for royalty.
Knowing these elements are in your hands makes you an empowered seller. On the premise that you have mastered the above three, let’s move forward.
The Achilles heel of every seller is negative reviews and in a previous article about how to deal with them, I focussed on how to learn, grow and benefit from all types of reviews, even the negative ones. Amazon will not remove negative product reviews just because it makes you unhappy. But what if you have some negative product reviews that don’t seem like fair play? It’s time to investigate if a bad product review is TOS compliant and actually warrants their presence.
Knowing The Difference Makes A Difference
It may seem like a tedious task, however, you could discover an Amazon-approved reasons for requesting product review removal in these two areas: Customer Feedback ratings (aka Seller Feedback) versus Product Reviews.
Some buyers write Customer Feedback content as a bad Product Review and visa versa. That is actually grounds for removal submission in both cases.
Acceptable Customer Feedback
Customer Feedback covers the issues of delivery, packaging, the condition of the product or container (opened, leaked, cracked, broken, etc.) and customer service (rating their experience with the merchant). These ratings directly impact your overall account health.
FBA sellers can get negative customer feedback comments about low ratings for delayed, damaged goods or return issues removed since Amazon handles all of this on your behalf.
Whether you are an FBA or FBM Seller, if a low customer feedback rating is only about the product; you have an absolutely valid reason to request removal since that content doesn’t belong there.
Check out this real-time example:
I contacted Seller Central Support to notify them of the above issue on behalf of a fellow seller.
Because these were product reviews written as Customer Feedback, that was an Amazon acceptable reason to request removal. Amazon responded at 7:55 a.m. (yes, that’s 3 minutes later):
Greetings from Amazon Seller Support,
Thank you for contacting us. I am happy to help you with the issue related to removal of the feedback.
I have checked all the details and found that the feedback is related to a product review that was provided by the buyer and it had nothing to do with your performance or your services. As per your request,I have removed the buyer’s feedback.
And voilà! By the way, this seller had a “Fair” Account Health rating. After two low ratings were removed; it returned to a 5-star “Good” status once again.
Moving On To Product Reviews
As a general rule of thumb, Amazon doesn’t make a habit of removing product reviews. However, reviews containing Customer Feedback details and nothing about the product itself are possible removal candidates. Amazon lists these criteria as well:
- Inappropriate Content
- Hate Speech & Offensive Content
- Promotion of Illegal Conduct
- Promotional Reviews
Amazon would also consider removing at least one review when “a buyer, unhappy with their purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product.” Some people do this through multiple accounts. Why they would go out of their way to post more than once, is beyond me.
Grounds for Product Review Removal
Here is an example of a product review worthy of removal consideration… notice how this person just wanted to rant. If anything, this falls into the Customer Feedback ratings, and as you can see, the review has nothing to do with the product itself.
In addition to the inappropriate criteria listed above, product reviews have a 75-word minimum requirement by Amazon. Take a look at this one:
In this case, no one can tell if the reviewer even took the product out of the box it came in.
Product reviews are opinions. And Amazon likes every customer to have one. To be clear, just because a review is negative but it’s about the customer’s experience with the product – Amazon won’t even consider removing it. That type of review is legit.
Assuming you have an Amazon approved reason, no one knows if Amazon will actually accept it nor how long it could take for them to respond. I understand that Seller Central transfers such cases: “The team that owns this feature is outside of Seller Support and does not use the case system. So your case will appear closed in Seller Central… results of investigations are not shared.”
Remember, the only guaranteed outcome is that nothing will happen if you don’t try.
There are two ways to go about submitting non-compliant negative product review removal requests: Report abuse and/or contact Seller Support. I will include both ways. I don’t believe this is an either/or option, so I recommend using both.
Next to the “Was this review helpful to you? Yes – No, click on “Report abuse”.
This window will show up:
Write clear, authorized reason(s) why the content is inappropriate (just stick to Amazon’s guidelines). Then submit by clicking on the orange Report as inappropriate button.
Contact Seller Support
This option allows for much more information to build your removal case.
Before you go wild reporting every 1-star review, remember that Amazon may, or may not delete the ones with real content violations so don’t waste everyone’s time trying to get legitimate negative ones removed.
Can Negative Product Reviews Be Changed?
For some sellers, 3-stars or less is a source of frustration. Others recognize that multiple 2 or 3-star valid testimonials are perceived as more authentic feedback. Consumers find a mixture helpful. That’s why they read both.
Consider that having a few negative reviews isn’t going to be your demise. Let’s say that you have compliant negative product reviews that Amazon would easily refuse to remove; you could try reaching out to the customer. Just do so wisely. At no point can you ever state or imply that if a customer improves their product review, you will give them a gift, discount on their next order, refund or anything other than a genuine “Thank you.”
Sometimes a reviewer simply doesn’t understand how to properly use a product (even with included carefully crafted instructions). Generally, prospective buyers discern that it’s a limitation of the reviewer versus the product itself. As the seller, taking time to respond in a professional, friendly (non-defensive) way on the detail page for everyone to see, counterbalances those negative reviews and builds confidence in your name/brand. In many cases, answering questions leads to a customer changing their review of their own inspired volition.
While it may be tempting to take your customer interaction offline: Don’t. It works in your favour to keep Amazon in the proverbial loop. When Amazon sees that a seller is responding to product issues, they smile upon it. Prevent getting busted for misunderstood resolutions attempted off of Amazon’s platform. Even the best intentions may come back with haunting repercussions if a buyer ends up writing about how you contacted them by phone or directly via a personal email, then offered x, y, z to get their negative feedback removed. If reading that makes your palms sweat because the thought had crossed your mind; take it as a think twice sign.
Instead, take confident steps via Amazon and remember to leave a trail so that they know your efforts are genuine.
Reducing Recovery Time
One way to make up for drops in conversion rates resulting from multiple compliant negative reviews is to actually acquire more reviews. This is easily accomplished by running promotions or sponsored product ads or review campaigns.
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