Respond Quickly to Negative Feedback

by Jonathan Tombes

The late New York City Mayor Ed Koch was famous for asking New Yorkers: “How’m I doin’?” He was also known for not always waiting around for an answer. No one wants to hear complaints, but any online merchant does well to listen attentively to all feedback – good and bad.

Neglect Negative Feedback and Pay a Price

Neglecting negative feedback has a real opportunity cost. When you respond quickly – assisted, for instance, by negative and neutral feedback alerts enabled by FeedbackFive – you are in a better position to resolve customer issues, have the complaints removed and preempt A-to-Z claims.

Seller's tip: Need a quick template?

Best Practices, Business Communications

Rapid response is a key part of any customer-initiated communication. Amazon’s Customer Metrics page displays a Contact Response Time performance indicator, which lets you know what percentage of queries have gone 24 hours without an answer. Minimizing that number is sound business practice. As Amazon explains: “Timely, high-quality responses to customer inquiries are an important factor in determining customer satisfaction and can help prevent negative feedback or other order defects and claims.”

Feedback, on the other hand, is not ordinary communication. It arrives after the transaction, and most customers, especially those offering praise, send it without expecting a reply. Negative feedback is a special case.

Some frustrated buyers use feedback as a way to communicate – like an email, only louder. They may want, but don’t necessarily expect a response. A lack of response simply reinforces their negative feelings. An immediate and thoughtful response, however, could be the “Whoa!” factor that gives dissatisfied buyers pause, makes them aware that someone is listening to them, and opens the door to effective communication.

Three Positive Outcomes

There are no guarantees, but a quick response puts you in a better position to do the following:

  • Solve the problem. If the buyer is using feedback as an amplified communication tool, then it makes sense to answer it within 24 hours, as per usual best practices, and address the issue at hand. Even sooner is better.
  • Remove the feedback. The 60-day window during which feedback can be removed begins on the date that a customer leaves feedback, not the date when a seller first notices it. Because the process could take weeks, every day counts. Constantly monitoring your account is critical. 
  • Preempt A-to-Z claims. While negative or neutral feedback can be removed, an A-to-Z claim usually cannot, which is why you want to do everything possible to reduce the chance of one being filed. That includes rapidly responding to any issues that have a chance of being defused or resolved.

Listen to the Negative Feedback Alarm

Keeping track of customer feedback under the Performance tab on Amazon Seller Central is the standard way to monitor this input. If you are a FeedbackFive customer subscribing at the Pro-and-above plans, however, you have the advantage of receiving automatic email notification of any negative and neutral feedback. Given how many dashboards and operational details a busy seller tracks daily, this feature has proved to be one of the most popular of the FeedbackFive service.

Negative feedback is not the end of the world. But it can be an “all-hands-on-deck” moment. FeedbackFive’s automatic notification service is the alarm bell that helps minimize the damage of those incidents.

Originally published on March 2, 2013, updated August 13, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.