If you’ve ever received a bad review on Etsy, you can relate to the sinking feeling that accompanies it.

In my case, t’was a lovely summer’s day when three came in.

One.

By.

One.

“I was told that it either got lost in the mail or someone stole my package. Terrible customer service!”

I received this one-star review copied and pasted on three products.

Negative reviews suck.

You can try your absolute best to make the best product and provide the best customer service, but at the end of the day, someone will hate your service or your product and leave you a negative review. What matters is how you respond to it.

In this blog post, I’ll share tips on how to respond to a negative review on Etsy, as well as useful tips for improving your customer service in general.

1. Take a deep breath

Your Etsy shop is an extension of yourself. When someone leaves you feedback that’s negative or hurtful, it can be difficult not to take the review personally.

But before responding publicly (as tempting as it may seem), step away from the review and give yourself some time to cool down. You don’t want to say something you’ll regret later!

2. Reach out to the buyer

Once you’ve cooled down, try to remedy the situation and reach out to your customer.

Here are some possible solutions that might help:

  • Offer to track down the package if they didn’t receive it;
  • Offer to re-send the package if it was lost in the mail or arrived damaged;
  • Offer a refund if the item isn’t as advertised;
  • Offer a refund or exchange if they agree to ship the item back.

If you provide the buyer with a satisfactory solution, they may change the review to a positive one. You might as well try!

In my case, this review:

I was told that it either got lost in the mail or someone stole my package. Terrible customer service!”

Turned into this review!

As it happens, the customer assumed I wasn’t going to help solve her issue. Reaching out to her was a win-win (she got her package, and changed her review to 5-stars!).

How to publicly respond to a bad review on Etsy

If reaching out privately fails, you can publicly respond to the review if it is three stars or less. Just know that once you post a response to the review, the buyer can’t alter their original review. Only respond if you’re reasonably sure the buyer won’t improve the original review. My advice is to write your public response in a way that demonstrates you attempted to remedy the situation, or if that wasn’t possible, explain that your listing description and shop policies state XYZ.

Hi ________,

I’m sorry to hear that ____ didn’t meet your expectations. The dimensions are listed in the description, but I will happily refund your order if you ship it back to me. I reached out to you last week regarding a refund and hope to hear from you soon!

_________

Your public response isn’t for the unhappy customer; it’s for potential buyers!

3. Use the bad review as a learning opportunity

A bad review is information. You can use this to improve your business or you may disagree with the buyer and keep things as they are, but it’s an opportunity to get feedback to improve your Etsy shop.

If the review is unfair

Suppose the buyer didn’t read the full description and the item “didn’t meet their expectations” (so unfair). You can still use it as an opportunity to update your listings with more information to make things SUPER clear for buyers (but let’s be honest, some people don’t read the full description).

When to report a negative review to Etsy

There are certain types of reviews that are not allowed on Etsy.

Etsy does not allow reviews that:

  • 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;
  • Be about things outside the seller’s control, such as a delivery carrier, Etsy or a third party;
  • Contain threats or extortion;
  • Include shilling or otherwise falsely inflate a shop’s review score; or
  • Undermine the integrity of the Reviews system.

Source: Etsy Seller Policy

Things like mail carrier delays are not a reflection of your business, and Etsy will remove reviews that mention these.

If the review is fair

Sometimes, a bad review is justified. There’s always room for improvement in our business!

Bad reviews are not always a bad thing. A bad review can show us weak spots in our business that we can improve upon.

Perhaps you’ve received a few bad reviews on the quality of your materials. Use this as an opportunity to improve those materials. Maybe an item arrived damaged. Use this as an opportunity to revisit how you ship out your products.

Ask yourself: how can you turn a negative review into a positive learning opportunity?

4. Protect yourself from future bad reviews with great customer service on Etsy

Here are a few things you can do to limit the negative reviews you get on Etsy:

Update Etsy listings descriptions

You can update your listing descriptions with more information about your product, so the buyer is crystal clear on what they’re getting.

Add more images to your Etsy listings

You can add more images to your listings:

✔️ Showcasing different angles

✔️ Showing your product next to something else for size

✔️ Showing your product in use for context

Images reign supreme online; even if buyers don’t read the listing description, they will most likely browse through the pictures.

Respond to messages in a timely manner

Make sure to respond to emails and messages on Etsy at least once per day. The Sell on Etsy app for Etsy sellers makes it easy to communicate with customers.

If you find you are getting the same question(s) repeatedly on Etsy, keep a document of standard answers you can copy and paste and tweak with the customer’s name and details.

Update Etsy shop policies

Fill out your Shop Policies and your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, so customers know what to expect when ordering from your shop.  If one person asks you a question, chances are several customers are wondering the same thing. Add it to your FAQ section!

Most buyers won’t read these, but policies will protect you if a buyer opens a case against you on Etsy.

It is three times more expensive to get a new customer than keep an existing one. Try to remedy the situation where possible, but remember….

Bad reviews are inevitable. The more you grow your business, the more sales you make, the higher the chance that someone will have something negative to say about it. You can do everything right but have the misfortune of encountering a “Karen.” It’s part of running a business; try not to dwell on it!

Etsy Karen Check

Speaking of Karens…

There’s a neat website for Etsy sellers called Karen* Check to help sellers avoid potential “Karen’s.” This tool was created by a fellow Etsy seller to empower Etsy shop owners by displaying the reviews of Etsy users.

To use this tool, type in an Etsy username to see a list of reviews they have written.

Screenshot of the Karen Check site for Etsy sellers

*Sorry if your name is Karen! I’ve never met a mean Karen in my life, and according to the creator of Karen Check, the site was named in a playful -not hurtful- spirit

Screenshot of Karen Check, a tool for Etsy sellers

 There is also a Karen Check extension you can install on Chrome to see a user’s review history alongside your Etsy messages.

Etsy Karen Check Screenshot

Do whatever you want with this information, and know that as an Etsy shop owner, you can cancel a transaction if you want to!

Related: The 10 Best Tools to Grow Your Etsy Shop

Food for thought

I know someone who knows someone who complains about everything EVERYWHERE they go to get discounts. Yeah, some people suck.

Wrapping things up

Bad reviews happen to all Etsy sellers. They are a sign of growth for your business because the more sales you make, the higher the chance that someone won’t like what you sell. You can try your very best, but you will get bad reviews on Etsy. What matters is how you respond to them

You can’t please everyone (especially the “Karens”). If you get a bad review on Etsy, try your best to remedy the situation, respond to the negative review publicly if you need to, use it as a learning opportunity, and limit future bad reviews by adding to your listings.

And remember: Etsy reviews are information. Read them, take them in, then decide what you want to do with that information.

Rooting for you,