I understand the dreadful feeling of getting a one-star review on Etsy. I’ve been there and experienced that.
It does not feel good.
Of course, having 100% 5-star reviews would be the most ideal situation, but it’s almost impossible even if you do everything right.
Even if your product is perfect, there may be a customer complaining that it’s overpriced. Even if your product is packaged perfectly, the shipping company may screw up and damage your item.
Good news is, there are steps you can take when you get a bad review. In short:
First, see if the review violates the Etsy policy. If not, you can move on and try finding a middle ground with the customer. Be specific and acknowledge the customer's frustrations. Being empathetic and offering a solution for the customers are crucial in fixing a negative review.
Let's dig deeper into the strategies. Read until the end for the message template to send to an unhappy customer!
Getting a negative review can be extremely frustrating and upsetting. My 6-figure Etsy shop has its fair share of negative feedback over the years.
After getting the negative review, it’s easy to get caught up in it and have the urge of replying straight away. But that is one of the worst things you can do for your shop in the long run because:
It’s not the end of the world. You are strong and you can handle this. Professionally.
Think about your future potential customers. The fact is they don’t really care about the angry customer. They care about how you, as Etsy sellers, will handle the situation. Customer service is one of the factors future buyers look at. This is because in their mind, there is a chance that a similar negative situation would happen, and how would it be resolved.
If your attitude is angry and to blame it on the customers, the potential customers will just turn around and go to a competing shop.
So we will go through how to tackle a negative review so it can be the best outcome for you and your customer.
First, we need to understand why someone would leave a negative review.
Negative reviews may sound angry and subjective, but most likely there are underlying reasons that are more objective. Here are some of the possible reasons:
Rarely is it the case where the customer is being spiteful just for the sake.
There are some situations where a negative review would violate Etsy’s rules. Here are some reasons why a negative review would be removed
If you are confident that the review violates one of these rules, you can contact Etsy by reporting the review. It will take Etsy some time to respond, do NOT reply to the review publicly as that will lock down the review.
To my knowledge and the research on forums, it’s very unlikely that an Etsy review would be removed. So it’s better to deal with it other than reporting to Etsy.
After you regain your composure, there are solid ways and tactics that you can use to communicate with your customers.
I’ve had customers leaving 1-star review multiple times. After the fix, they become a long-term customer coming back consistently for new stuff.
Here are the steps I take when helping customers with a negative review:
Two important things to keep in mind during messages:
It’s a tense situation. Just by initiating the conversation by messaging the customer about the review, and saying that you are happy to help them to be satisfied with the order, would break the mold and alleviate the tension.
State that you are open to communication and the customer can get in touch with you easily could also soften the situation.
“But it wasn’t my fault!” you may say.
Yes, sometimes even if it’s not your fault, a quick apology could calm down the customer very quickly and do wonders.
Based on my experience, just a sentence like “I understand your review, and I’m sorry that the fit is not what you expected”, or “I’m sorry that the piece got damaged during shipping.”
Don’t say “but” after apology. Be specific about the things that they are not happy about. Give them a short apology.
Remember, this negative review is most likely not about you, but about the frustration of the customer. And an apology most of the time is the best way to address that.
It’s human nature to crave for others to feel the same way. And it’s even more important in times of a negative review.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s you saying to the customer “I understand how you feel”.
One of the tricks I like to use the most is stating that I’ve been in the same bad situation before and know exactly how you feel. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Then restate that I’m happy to make it right for the customer.
“I’m sorry that the shipping takes longer than you expected. I’ve had the same issue before when I bought from another online shop. It wasn’t a good feeling. That’s why it’s very important for me and my Etsy shop to find a good solution for you. I want you to be completely happy about this purchase.”
Some other examples:
“I’m sorry about the fit. I completely understand the frustration of receiving a piece that is bigger than expected.”
“I’m sorry that the color is not as bright as you expected. I also had a similar experience when buying xxx and getting a product that’s not up to my expectation. Please rest assured that I will do my best to fix it for you.”
Frustration aside, the negative review is just a way of customers saying they want a fix.
As a seller, reassure them that you are happy to do your best and make things right. Just hearing that you are happy to help will make customers more receptive of your suggestions.
Remember this is not you giving in, but to potentially fix a bad review or even build a positive relationship with this customer.
Be generous and clear with your offer, but know your bottom line. You should be able to offer discounts, resend of product, or even refund. But don’t get threatened to send customers 5 extra items that they did not order.
For smaller items or items with lower costs, you can afford to be more generous with your offer.
“I’m happy to resend a new piece to you. You wouldn’t need to send back the original one. Or if you’d like, I can give you a full refund instead.”
“I’m happy to fix this for you. I’m happy to send you a new piece with the correct size. I’ll cover the shipping to you. You would only need to send the original piece to me.”
But sometimes, the item is big or more valuable. In that case, explain that to the customer when you are presenting your offers.
“I’ll do my best to fix this for you. As you know, this item is very large in size. It would be difficult to send you a new one. By the same token, I understand it would not be economical to ask you to send back the original one. That being said, I’m more than happy to offer you a xx% discount on this item.”
Remember to sound as friendly and helpful as possible.
If the customer replies with a yes, follow through with what you have promised your customer. Say something like “Thank you for letting me fix the situation. I’ll send you a new piece tomorrow.” or “I’ll send you a full refund right away. Thank you for your understanding and patience.”
If the process takes time, remind the customer about the specifics: “Please let me know when you have posted the original piece in the mail. The return shipping may take about 1-2 weeks. I will let you know as soon as I receive it.”
In some cases, the customer will come back with some other ideas. One of the reasons would be that the offer is not generous enough. If so, weigh it against your bottom-line and see whether you can fulfil the request. If it’s not possible, politely reject the offer by saying “I’m afraid that is not possible because (your reasons). However, I’m still happy to provide the fix I promised earlier.”
If you don’t get a reply, send the customer a final reminder message. If there’s still no reply after some time, then it would be time to move on.
A few days after the fix is delivered, follow up with the customer. You can do that by reassuringly saying “if there are any problems in the future, feel free to contact me and I’m happy to help.” Or you can say “I hope you are happy with the new piece you received. Thank you again for shopping with me.”
In some cases, after going through all the steps above, the customer will change the negative review to a more positive one without prompting. For my experience, usually they will change it to a 4-star review.
However, be very careful to not to ask for a positive review explicitly and violate the Etsy rules of review extortion:
“A seller offers a buyer additional goods, services, or compensation in exchange for a positive review.”
You can ask by saying that you are a small business and that customer satisfaction is very important to your shop. “As a small business, your satisfaction and feedback is very important. If after this (refund/replacement of product/discount), you feel more happier about your purchase, a revision of your feedback would be greatly appreciated.”
Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Maybe the customer is not responsive, or the situation is difficult to fix. Then it would be time to respond to the negative review.
Make this your last resort as replying to the original review will lock it down. So even if the customer changes their mind and wants to edit the rating, they wouldn’t be able to.
The time frame that you can reply to a review is 100 days after the review is posted or last edited.
As this response is public, it is actually an opportunity to show future customers you can handle an unfortunate situation in a professional way. Be positive and personable in your tone. And be objective in what you are saying.
There are a few things you need to hit in your response:
“Hi (customer’s name), sorry about the (problem). It’s a rare incident as product quality is very important to me. Even more important is that every customer is happy with their order from (your shop name).
Because of the (problem), I’ve offered (fixes you offered) to (customer name). (More details about the fix if necessary). If in the rare case of a similar situation happening again, I’ll be more than happy to help.”
Negative reviews can sometimes contain valuable information that you can extract and use. Improving the specific problems mentioned in the review could prevent the same situation from happening in the future.
Put size references with your product. Find common objects for easy size comparison, or have a model to put your product on. For example, jewelry would be best if modelled by a human so the customer can have a clear image of how big or small it is.
Ask customers to view it on different screens for more accurate colors (mobile phones usually display more vibrant colors). Or consider desaturating the color of some photos.
Make sure the shipping information is clearly displayed. Maybe in more than one location if necessary, like in the shipping policy and the order confirmation message.