Hi there! My name is Erica and I work on Etsy’s Service Labs team, which serves as an incubator for pilot projects aimed at advancing the ways that we meet the needs of sellers. I’m passionate about helping sellers strengthen their brands through customer service.
Selling on Etsy is a very personal experience. You are putting everything you have into making your business a success and most buyers come to Etsy because of the human connection to the artisans and makers they are purchasing from, which can lead to heightened emotions. That said, more often than not, their “demands” for a resolution are not personal and taking the approach of assuming your buyer’s best intent rather than perceived behavior, paves the way for the smoothest resolution. This advice comes in especially handy when dealing with a low review.
For this week’s Etsy Insight, I want to share tips around handling a negative review:
One of the most important things to remember is that you have a chance to potentially turn around bad reviews. This can take shape in a few ways, but we always first recommend trying to work with a buyer via Messages before posting a public review response -- if a resolution is reached, the buyer then has an opportunity to change or remove the review. Either way, you’ll always be able to post a review response for up to 100 days from the original review date or the last review edit. Before posting a review response consider the following:
And, when you’ve done all you can and the buyer isn’t budging, respond to these reviews thoughtfully to show future buyers that you will help them should a transaction not go as planned. The majority of buyers care much more about how you handle issues with an order than they do about a low review.
The most important thing to remember is that your image and your reputation are very valuable. Order resolutions are a business expense that help to build and maintain your brand.
What type of steps do you take to resolve order disputes when a buyer leaves a review before reaching out to you?
Do you have steps you take to separate yourself from the situation and respond with your brand reputation in mind?
Now that the ODR guidelines have been released and a 1-2 star review counts against the seller even if the buyers changes it due to outstanding customer service after the review is left, what incentive does that give Etsy sellers to work with these buyers? If I'm going to take a hit no matter what, there's no reason for me to bend over backwards to make these customers who have already left negative reviews happy.
Excellent point, where is our incentive to do well if the original bad review still counts against us even if we turn it around and they happily change it to five stars?
What about the buyers who comment with a review about how happy they are with their order but it’s clear they’ve accidentally given a 1 star instead of 5 because of touch screen issues (I’ve read reports of this numerous times) but then happily change it to the correct rating, it still counts a bad mark even if it is user error?
I’ve never had a bad case and have only had one 3 star review (I think) since I started here in 2011 yet I already feel like I’m walking a thin line between selling here and being warned and kicked out, even after dedicating nearly nine years to Etsy.
Exactly and frankly, a 1% dissatisfaction rate is crazy. Even Amazon does 4% for handmade; that's MUCH more reasonable.
Your incentive to make something right after getting a negative review is that FUTURE buyers will see how you respond to that review. I wouldn't let the new ODR guidelines keep you from responding professionally & taking care of an issue, whether it was technically your fault or not. But yeah, the ODR not acknowledging a negative review being changed to positive is awful... especially considering it will count accidental negative reviews.
@CanningCrafts yes, I believe we should respond professionally even when etsy shuts down our shop for receiving 1 bad review in a basketful of wonderful reviews. 1% is very small margin to be able to rise above when you do not sell in large volumes.
CanningCrafts, I'm not talking about responding. I'm talking about things like the Mod recommended like offering a "gift credit" because you don't take back custom items. I'm talking about reaching out to the customer and trying to mediate the issue if they don't reach out to you. Most sellers from now on, I think, will just respond to the review and move on ~ especially if they have a large number of reviews and it doesn't affect their star average. I'm happy to work with unhappy customers if they reach out to me.
Just Add Jewelry, exactly. IMHO good customer service consists of helping the buyer as much as possible, but it doesn't include taking hits for things that are out of our control, (like shipping delays, customs delays, bad weather, wrong addresses, etc).
It must be nice to live in an ideal universe where everything is sunshine and roses, but here in the real world stuff happens, sometimes we can make it better and sometimes we can't and we just have to deal with the fallout. We can do our very best to provide first rate customer service and still come out of a bad experience with scars; being told those scars are permanent isn't an incentive to do better, but rather a constant reminder of an unpleasant experience and possibly a serious loss of income to boot.
I'm thankful that I don't depend on my Etsy shop to feed my family or pay my bills. My heart goes out to all of those who do and it makes me angry and more than a bit sick on their behalf.
I think the best way is to reach out to the buyer right away and actually understand the issue. It's important to understand what causes the disappointment in the buyer - maybe it's the product, maybe it's the delivery time or maybe it's the buyer's expectations. Whatever is the reason, it'll open a new space for improvement.
For me, there's one step that helps me to separate myself from challenging situations - I always seek the facts and base my actions on the actual situation, but not on emotions. I always also keep in mind that for me Etsy is a space I know very well, however, for my buyer it may be completely new and unknown.
I had a buyer leave me a one star review. Her comments: I LOVE this item, super fast shipping, excellent quality and service. I reached out and she said she must have hit the wrong key by mistake. Asked her to change it and never heard from her again.
I always run my responses past people who I know can be objective. I try to understand the problem and then see if it's something I can fix for the customer, if it's something I can fix for future customers, or if there's really nothing I can do.
But I share concerns that, with the ODR information that's now available, attempting to help customers who leave poor reviews won't really benefit me in any way. If I am going to take a hit from etsy even if I am able to turn the situation around, there isn't much incentive to work very hard to make the person happy.
As a previous responder said, I have not had bad reviews, my odr is 0. But I am left feeling anxious about even one unhappy customer - especially with holiday mail hiccups, which are entirely out of my hands - after over a decade of customers who are generally thrilled.
I just had a 1 star review a few days ago. Now I'm terrified about the holiday season. I haven't had a 1 star before this since January 2018 or a case since 2016, but like you said ~ going into the holidays anything can happen! I'm taking the product back, it fit into my return guidelines, but some people are just not going to like the product once they get it, that's the downfall of online shopping and to so degree, there's literally nothing we can do about that and we don't hold any fault in it. My recent one star review was on a product I've sold 1000s of, I have a 5 star average with over 600 reviews ~ I'm not going to change anything about my product or description, etc because ONE PERSON didn't like it. And that 1 person shouldn't have the power to put my entire livelihood into jeopardy.
FlytrapLife -- thank you for your tips on how to provide good customer service but none of what you suggests is helpful once a shop has reached there 1% threshold.
I've had people leave a great comment and 1 star. They did it from their phone and the stars didn't stick. So that counts against me even though it is obvious they liked what they received. This happens more often then you think. These types of reviews or reviews that are changed from a negative to a positive should not be counted against sellers!
So what incentive is there for sellers to resolve the issue if etsy still punishes sellers? Of course CS comes first but it is crazy to get punished for resolving issues.
"One of the most important things to remember is that you have a chance to potentially turn around bad reviews"
Do we now? In light of recent developments I would say this is an inaccurate and misleading statement. Either that or you don't know etsy's policy on this.
Here is a quote from etsy itself in case you need a refresher
"Low reviews are considered part of a shop’s Order Dissatisfaction Rate, even if the review is later changed"
Fair warning - this post is not positive. Feel free to scroll
You should first and foremost incubate these projects in your own shops before using us as lab rats. My trying to satisfy a customer, (and reassuring potential ones) is rather a moot point if the shop gets closed down for your ODR policy isn't it? This topic will always be an important issue for sellers (as discussed many times in the forums), BUT we now have this anvil hanging over our heads;
"Low reviews are considered part of a shop’s Order Dissatisfaction Rate, even if the review is later changed (reviews removed for policy violations may not apply). Cases are considered part of a shop’s Order Dissatisfaction Rate, regardless of the resolution of the case."
See that? That's taken directly from the help section. Even a change to a positive review goes against us. I suppose we should be thankful that etsy corp has a least spelled that out. However indicating in this thread that turning a negative around corrects any damage already done is false (according to the above statement)
How dare you toy with your Sellers' livelihood like this? Etsy has told us in writing, that there is literally nothing we can do to recover from a low review or a case opened. No refunds, no replacements, no sweet-talk or excellent customer service, regardless of whether a low feedback is raised to 5 stars, or a case is closed in the Seller's favor - it will still count towards whatever ODR a shop has amassed, and will do absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Fat fingers on a cell phone only hit 1 star? Oops! Too bad.
Blizzard delayed your order, and the dog hats missed Fluffy's engagement party? Boo-hoo.
Buyer didn't read the title or description where it clearly states what is being offered? (Here!)
Buyer doesn't respond to an offer to return for full refund? (Here!)
Buyer doesn't contact you about an issue, even though it's in your shop announcement, transaction email, shipping notice and packing slip that "We want you to be 100% satisfied with your order, and to contact us with any questions or concerns" ? (Here.)
And when a Seller contacts Etsy Support to plea their case of circumstances out of their control, they are told that Etsy does not have the time to debate the merits of their decision?
(Yeah. That happened, in case you missed it, before the thread was removed. But I'm just paraphrasing, not quoting.)
Erica @etopple - What type of steps do you take to make Etsy Sellers happy, after basically telling us we are doomed to fail under the new ODR dictate?
What type of steps do you take to make Etsy Sellers happy, after basically telling us we are doomed to fail under the new ODR dictate?
Good question. I'm not holding my breath for an answer though.
@PillowDetails You are right on the money.
Most, if not all, of the low reviews I get are based on a customers preference about a fragrance, which is HIGHLY subjective. I cannot control it and if I receive a "warning" how do I improve? I can do NOTHING do "improve" a customers personal preference or opinion. And customers are real quick to issue a 1 star review. I got one recently from a customer who ordered 6 items, issued 5 stars on 5 items and on the one she didn't like the scent on? 1 star but "the rest of my order was glam."
So basically, I could be shut down because one customer didn't like a particular scent, but 100 other people did? I'm sorry, but this is morally wrong. This is my income, I DO feed my family on the money I make here... it's staggering what is happening here.
@zsjewelryI'm interested to know if the revised review cancelled the hurtful low star ODR. Don't forget to update us!!! :)))) Right now I halted the purchase of new inventory, I stay minimal in my renewing, turn off my ads on my Fine Art because 1 low star with o case and 1 star in Years!!! The first one was on Dec 26 2015 and I refunded the person was Christmas time.... The recent one was for something I can't control darkening of sterling silver. Sterling silver darkened, if it doesn't, it's another quality like rhodium, steel or white gold. Also I was very surprised about the low star review because my listing picture shows a dark sterling silver necklace. Oh well! I could contact her but now it's too late reading all the threads. Apparently when you get hit, it doesn't matter if the customer realized the review was kind of unfair. So let us know how it turns out for you. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!