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How to Handle a Bad Review on Amazon

February 28, 2014

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Any time you put out something for public consumption, you open yourself up to criticism. And when you’ve put a lot of time and effort into something, a bad review can be hurtful.

But don’t be a pussy about it.

Let me give you an example…

I was looking at Amazon for new books and came across this one-star review which called the title being reviewed “boring and unoriginal” and “useless if you work a 9-5 job.” It also made the claim that “the 5 star ratings are faked or something.”

The author of the book read the review and left this comment below it…

This is really disappointing. I really hate I let you down but I respect your feedback.

I worked really hard to make this book interesting & to the point so it crushes me to hear that you felt it was boring and unoriginal.

I understand you returned the book, but I still hope to speak with you so I can personally apologize and find out what would’ve made this book better. I am so sorry.

Never Do This!

What the hell was that?!

You got your feelings hurt and I get that. You put your heart and soul into a book, had the balls to release it to the world, but you’re letting one bad review from a relatively anonymous source get your panties in a wad.

Or maybe you’re just trying to act like you care — you released a crap product and you’re trying to squeeze out a few more sales before the word gets out by trying to convince customers that you give a shit.

If either is the case, you’re not cut out for this.

But I’m going to assume you released something you thought was worthwhile. Even then, bad reviews happen. As an author myself, I know the disappointment. Once, I received a review with the title “A Disappointment Like David Hooper Himself.”

Ouch!

But understand this is what happens when you sell a lot of books.

Setting Yourself Up to Fail

If you’re going to base your self-worth on reviews, good or bad, you’re setting yourself up to fail. And never do anything based on a single opinion. Getting caught up in a single instance of anything is misleading…

One success in business doesn’t make you a great entrepreneur.

One win at chess doesn’t make you a Grandmaster.

One act of giving doesn’t make you a generous person.

And one bad review on Amazon doesn’t mean your book sucks.

Should You Listen to Customer Feedback?

Yes. This this will help you create a better product and deliver better service in the future. Customer feedback and “online reviews” are often two different things. Online reviews are often just personal opinions, from anonymous people who might not be qualified to give them or aren’t necessarily representative of your average customer.

A comment like “boring and unoriginal” doesn’t help you to improve — because “boring and original” is opinion, not feedback. So here’s how to get what you need to improve the next time you get something similar…

How to Handle a Bad Review on Amazon

Respond and ask for two things:

  1. More information about the reviewer.
  2. Specifics on what would make the book better.

How I’d do it…

“Thanks for taking the time to leave a review. I want to write the best book possible. Would you mind telling me a little more about your situation and what it would take for you to consider this a 5-star book?”

Done.

Why This Works

First of all, you’re finding out if the guy is worth listening to. And you’re also getting very specific advice on what you can do to make a better product. Making something “not boring” or “original” wouldn’t have helped anything, because both of these things are extremely subjective.

In addition, you’re also putting the burden of proof back on him. A “hit and run” review adds nothing to the conversation about a product or help customers make an informed buying decision, so let him do a bit more work to explain himself.

Same for good reviews, by the way. If somebody likes the book, it’s great if you can get him to give specifics as to why. “I liked this book” doesn’t help anything. Remember, you want feedback, not opinion.

When you do get specific and helpful feedback, don’t apologize and don’t make excuses for your work. Instead, actually use what you’re hearing to make the next edition better and followup with the reviewer to let him know. That’s worth a hundred times more than the lip service of a fake “I really hate I let you down” apology.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.