How to Deal with Negative Reviews in Your Etsy Shop - Part 1
If you've ever gotten a bad review on Etsy, you need to know...you are not alone.
Even the top sellers on Etsy (like us!) get negative customer reviews from time to time.
We're going to teach you how to deal with negative reviews from customers on Etsy.
You can listen to this podcast episode here, or keep reading below:
Getting a negative review can be totally stressful. We want people to love our handmade work, and the time that you put into creating your product is really meaningful and valuable to you, so when someone leaves a bad review, it can really be upsetting and really bring you down.
Katie and I have certainly experienced this before, so we really wanted to talk about this on the podcast in a transparent way.
So today, I’m going to do a deep dive into what to do if the review isn’t actually about you at all, what kind of negative reviews you can report to Etsy, and how to analyze negative customer feedback to see if it’s actually helpful and if there are any opportunities for you to improve.
Then, in part 2, I’ll share your 3 options for responding to negative reviews and even share some exact ways I’ve responded to bad reviews.
So, the first thing you should do when you get a bad review is
- to not respond right away (publicly or with a message)
- Breathe in, 5x5 rule
- Walk away from it for at least 2 hours
When you’re ready, it’s time to analyze the review.
First - determine if the review is not actually about you at all.
- Is the negative review about shipping (AKA out of your control)??
This kind of review is often something like a 1 star review that reads, “I loved the product but it arrived too late with shipping for my dad’s birthday. It was supposed to be delivered a week earlier than it actually arrived. I bought it as a gift and it ruined his birthday.”
Striaght from Etsy: "Reviews that are solely about things outside of the seller’s control—such as the actions of a shipping carrier, Etsy, or a third party—may be in violation of our policies."
If you receive a review that you believe violates Etsy’s policies, please be sure to report it.
2. Is the review a violation of Etsy’s policies?
If the review violates Etsy’s policies:
If you believe that a review violates Etsy’s policies, you can report it. Reviews that are negative, but that comply with Etsy’s policies won’t be removed.
Reviews and your response to reviews violate Etsy’s policies if they:
- Contain private information
- Contain obscene, racist, or harassing language or imagery
- Violate their Anti-Discrimination Policy
- Contain prohibited medical drug claims
- Contain advertising or spam
- Are only about things outside the seller’s control, such as a shipping carrier (mentioned by name), Etsy, or a third party
- Contain threats or extortion
- Include shilling or otherwise falsely inflate a shop’s review score
Unless a review violates one of these rules, Etsy is not going to remove it.
You need to determine if the review is actually against Etsy's policies, or if it's simply negative feedback from the customer (but still within their policies).
Now, it's time to move on to a critical look at the review and what it says about your product.
Does the feedback point to an opportunity to be more accurate in your listing description?
For example, if someone says “the product is bigger, smaller, more pink, more blue than I expected."
These kinds of reviews are frequent, and I just want to say, most of the time, the customer probably just missed the details they were looking for or they didn’t read your description. But - we’re all human and sometimes we miss stuff, so if the customer says something in the review that you can make clearer in your listing, you should.
Here are some ideas about that:
- Make sure your sizing is clearly listed
- Make sure you have an updating processing and shipping policy
- Make sure your photos are true to the actual color and style of the item
Not every suggestion from a customer in a negative review needs to make you rush out and change your product.
Sometimes people will review things like “I bought this for a gift, but I wish it had been in a different fabric.” Obviously, that’s not super helpful because they bought the item knowing the fabric print of the product.
Or, we’ve personally gotten a review for our focus stickers that says “I wish the texture was bumpier.” We have already clearly described the subtle texture in the listing as soft, sugar-y sand texture, so the description is accurate.
And while that person might like something bumpier, other people are going to like the texture smoother like the product we already sell.
You, unfortunately, are not tacos, so you cannot please everyone.
So, please don’t take a negative review and feel like you have to change your product for one customer.
On the other hand, sometimes customers - even in a negative review - can provide helpful feedback so even though a one or two star review stings really bad, just take a minute to honestly consider what they have to say about your product.
What does this actually mean for your shop?
Here’s the most empowering thing I can probably tell you about negative reviews:
They are so, so normal and the larger your shop gets, the more successful you are, the more negative reviews you get.
Every business gets them.
Statistically, the larger your shop, the more frequent a single bad review will get.
So instead of feeling like, "Omg I have a terrible product," a great way to spin this is like “wow, my products are really getting visibility on etsy, and that means that once in awhile I might make a mistake on the order or my product might be ordered by someone who is NOT my dream customer and they might leave a bad review.”
A single bad review or even a few is not going to be the end of your shop.
If your shop is new or small and growing, a single bad review might cause you to lose or not get Star Seller for 3 months, but honestly, not a big deal.
You should be focusing on the sustainability of your handmade business for years to come and missing out on Star Seller for a few months is not even something I’d think about for a second.
So, when you get a bad review, it’s important to not internalize this kind of feedback. Remember, the customer is not personally reviewing you. And honestly, although it sucks, customers often forget there is a real person behind the product they bought. Sometimes they do not realize, or they’re not thinking about how you are not amazon.
I know this might not bring much consolation, but at the same time, please try not to take negative reviews personally.
When you own your own small business, you get to practice learning to have a thick skin.
People are going to approach you with feedback and advice you didn’t ask for, or say things like “you know what you should do is…” when the truth is, they aren’t you, they don’t know your dream customer, and unless they’re running a successful Etsy shop and living your dream life, their advice probably shouldn’t be given much weight.
My advice is to not internalize any of this feedback, whether it’s in person or online. It’s just not helpful to your mindset or your business and you are worth so much more than that.
Ready for Part 2??
Learn about your 3 options for responding to negative reviews and even share some exact ways I’ve responded to bad reviews. Read it here.