When it comes to online shopping, reviews matter. According to Spiegel Research Center, 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase. Of course, as a seller on Amazon, you will inevitably run into negative reviews. Such is the nature of e-commerce. While most shoppers are aware that virtually every product – regardless of its quality – will always have a few bad reviews, it is important for brands to manage negative reviews appropriately. Fortunately, Amazon has just made this much easier for brand owners in the U.S.
Amazon’s Strict Communication Policy
As part of selling on Amazon, sellers communicate with buyers both directly and indirectly. That said, the company has strict guidelines that limit how sellers can contact customers. Brands may only send Permitted Messages to customers who have contacted them about purchasing a product or who have already purchased a product. Amazon defines Permitted Messages as “communications necessary to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry.” For example, brands may contact buyers for order fulfillment, additional information required to complete the order, return-related questions, invoices, and a few other clearly defined reasons.
For years, sellers have been asking Amazon for more freedom in how they can contact customers – especially those who leave a negative review. After all, dealing directly with an unhappy customer is one of the best ways to resolve a complaint. While it may have taken a while, Amazon finally responded to this request. In June of 2021, the retail giant surprised sellers with the following announcement:
We’ve been tracking feedback from brands related to the Customer Reviews experience. We heard that you love having a way to see all your reviews in one place and that it is nice to be able to filter by star rating and time period. You also shared your frustrations over not being able to directly engage with your customers who left critical reviews.
We’re now offering a brand-only benefit that allows you to reach out to buyers who purchased your branded product directly from you, who left critical (1-3 star reviews) via templated emails that allow you to communicate with buyers via buyer-seller messaging.
We believe this will build brand trust and help establish stronger relationships between you and your customers.
How Amazon’s New “Contact Buyer” Option Works
Before you get too excited, this update does not give every Amazon seller free rein to contact customers any way they want. Far from it, in fact. However, it provides U.S. brands enrolled in Brand Registry the ability to send templated messages to buyers who have left a critical review of three stars or less.
It’s important to note that this option doesn’t guarantee that a customer will modify or remove their negative review. It merely offers an opportunity to reach out to unhappy buyers and initiate a conversation to address the issue.
To use Amazon’s new Contact Buyer feature, login into your Seller Center Dashboard and follow these simple steps:
1. Go to Brands > Customer Reviews.
2. If you have a product with a critical review of three stars or less, click on the “Contact Customer” button on the right.
3. Click on the “Customer review” option in the pop-up window.
4. A new window will open, containing a pre-written message from you to the seller that states the following:
Thank you for purchasing from our brand on Amazon.com. On [date] you left the following review of our product:
We’d like to address any issues or concerns you have. Your business is important to us so please contact us and we’ll work to resolve your issues.
The customer will be able to send an anonymous message by simply replying to the email. From there, you will be able to communicate directly with the buyer and address the issue that led to the negative review.
CHANNEL KEY TAKEAWAY
Until recently, brands had only two options for addressing negative reviews on Amazon: 1) comment publicly on the review, or 2) ask Amazon to remove it. While the former was the better of the two choices, a public comment thread between a brand and an unhappy customer risks unwanted exposure by drawing attention to itself and inviting further criticism from the buyer. At last, there’s a third option that allows brand owners to contact these customers directly with templated messages. While it may not be 100% freedom of communication, Amazon’s update to the Customer Reviews tool is a victory for brand owners who have long-awaited a more effective way to address negative reviews.