Amazon on Negative Comments: Disregard 5%

Dana (My sister)
Image by Spi-V

In its Holiday Marketing Best Practices Guide, Amazon coaches online merchants to disregard negative comments until they reach a ratio of 5% of all comments:

“Most sellers will eventually receive some negative feedback. When it happens to you, put it in perspective: a 0-2% negative feedback rate is great! If your negative feedback rate is greater than 5%, review your business practices to correct any operational problems that might affect a buyer’s experience.”

Amazon has had its fair share of customer service issues over the years. But I agree with the online retailer’s guidance in principle, and use a similar barometer in coaching clients about negative commenting.

I do think its important to listen to the comments in case there are insights to be gleaned (even from a troll).

The truth is you can’t please everyone. That’s why 0-5% may represent a group that you’ll never satisfy.

You make your choices, and when generally they prove to be winners, you live with the smaller negative results. When decisions are wrong, you have to own them and clean up the mess.

Thoughts on How to Respond

Amazon’s negative feedback guidance also suggests an “inside the locker room” approach to response.

“Remember that you can respond to negative feedback. But before you do, we encourage you to contact the buyer and work together to resolve any issues regarding the transaction. The buyer could then remove the feedback if they feel it would be appropriate.”

I do agree that moving conversations offline is smart; however, I think it’s best to show a public response when possible.

You need to do this to show other customers you care, and that you will address issues. When someone has a legitimate beef or is factually incorrect (troll or not), you need an initial public response for reputation purposes, too.

There are some negative posts that I won’t respond to, mostly because I just outright disagree with the presented opinion, or I think the person just wants a fight (e.g. troll). But 99% of the time I try to respond.

What do you think? Does Amazon have it right?