Reacting to negative reviews on Etsy

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If you’re an Esty seller chances are you’ve had some interesting customers and if you’re a new seller you could be facing your first roadblock on the platform. A common question from many sellers is ‘How do I react to negative reviews on Etsy?’

You’ve been working hard to build a business with your bare hands. Each handmade item takes a little piece of your soul and then one day the unimaginable happens, your customer is not happy and has expressed it in a review for everyone to see.

This weekend my 2-year-old Esty shop received its first negative review, and to top it off this first bad review was a single star, the absolute worst of the worst. Despite my best attempts to ensure customers came to me for assistance before leaving a negative, this customer decided that the digital product in question, downloaded and enjoyed by many just wasn’t good enough.

It got me thinking about the best approach to negative reviews on Etsy. Would it affect my business? Should I refund the buyer? Should I get in touch with the buyer? Today I’m going to outline the most widely used steps by Etsy sellers in a similar situation.  

What to do about negative reviews on Etsy

Report any reviews that go against Etsy guidelines – Reviews containing private information, harmful or discriminatory content, prohibited medical claims, spam, complaints outside of the sellers powers and fake reviews are all eligible for removal by Etsy. If this is the case, click Report this review under the review you want to report in your shop. If the review is not eligible for removal then follow the steps below.

  • Step one – Don’t get defensive – Selling on Etsy is incredibly goal driven, staying motivated and growing your business on the platform can be exhausting at times. Getting a negative review doesn’t mean you’re a bad seller or creator. The beauty of being a creator and making your products by hand is that you are not a machine, mistakes happen but the same goes for your customers. The most important thing to avoid is getting defensive, as this could harm your brand. Whilst it is normal to be frustrated, having a level head and knowing how to respond can help how future customers perceive your business. At this stage avoid responding to the review as that will lock it in forever!
  • Step two – Get in touch with the customer to try and solve the issue – The important thing to know is that as long as a seller doesn’t publicly respond to a review, customers can amend them. For many sellers, communicating around the issue prompted the buyer to amend the negative review without being asked. Even if you feel the issue was not your fault, customers crave empathy and what to have you on their side. Send the customer a private message and apologise, letting them know that you want to help them resolve it. This is often enough to break the tension and get matters fixed for both of you. Working with the customer to resolve the issue could be anything from sending out a replacement, offering a refund or giving technical expertise. Each situation will be different depending on the product and problem.
  • Step Three – Ask for an amended review – When you’ve worked through the issue with the customer, you can ask them to reconsider the review. Try to remain polite and don’t demand 5 stars. A message that tells the customer how important accurate feedback is to your business and requests they reconsider the review based on the services you have provided should be enough in most cases.
  • Step four – If all else fails, reply to the review publicly – If communicating with the customer did not go to plan then your final option is to reply to the review. Doing this means that neither you or the customer can go back and amend it but you now have the chance to be honest and professional whilst showing future customers that you are eager to rectify any issues and provide excellent customer service. Respond to the review with details about the issue and what you did as an attempt to resolve it focusing particular attention to the product itself.

All in all, as long as you are not receiving too many negative reviews, they are not the end of the world for your business. You have plenty of options to rectify any issues and if necessary it gives you the chance to make improvements to your products and customer experience.


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