Picture this crazy scene. One morning, you wake up to find that Etsy have closed down your store.
It seems your bank canceled your card without notice and one by one, you discover your card has been cut off from all of your online accounts. Including Paypal.
Etsy have closed your store until they can secure payment of fees. As a result, you're losing sales, and you can't even reply to your customer's messages.
You issued a refund last week and contacted the customer to let them know, thankfully that was before all this mess. You imagine how things could have been a lot worse.
But then it does get much worse...
An email from Paypal comes through. They have declined your refund "due to insufficient funds" and notified the customer on your behalf.
So that's no item delivered, no way to communicate, and now no refund either. And to top it off, your disgruntled customer returns to your store, only to find it's no longer there.
This is exactly what happened to me at the beginning of last year. It was then that I received my first ever negative review.
"This ring never came, seller did not answer my contacts for a month, seller claimed to issue a refund which didn't come through because there are insufficient funds in her account. This store is awful and laundering money."
Once I had my new bank card and my store was back up and running, I sent her a long letter of apology with a full explanation.
But it was to no avail, she still felt the need to leave the feedback and even though I knew it was an exaggeration, it didn't feel good to read. She was obviously upset with the whole experience and, well... I don't blame her really.
Sometimes, it seems the stars are actively aligning against you, but these things happen.
We learn from them and then we move on.
So You've Received a Negative Review, Now What?
You may be asking yourself how you'll come back from this. Will it affect sales? What about my store's traffic and my product's search rank?
I can tell you straight up that it will have a slight effect on your visibility within search, particularly if the customer opened a case.
Etsy's search algorithm takes into consideration the reputation of a store when deciding whether or not your product should be displayed to a searching customer. Here's the quote from their update on 4th Nov 2015;
"Now, positive reviews, completed About pages and completed shop Policies can help your placement in search. On the other hand, recent cases and intellectual property-infringement issues can result in lower placement."
I can testify to the damaging effect that having a negative review can have on your traffic and sales.
If you have a negative review and you haven't gotten around to writing your About page then now's the time to do it.
But what about your regular customers?
If you have a decent number of regulars who know and love what you do, and provided this case really was a one-off, then you'll have them to cushion your fall.
They are your converted followers and if you're not already doing it, then it's time to start sending thank you notes in your parcels with a polite request for positive feedback. You'll be surprised at how many people will make the effort simply because you have asked them to.
And you may feel the need... or the white hot raging compulsion... to reply to the feedback. Remember, what you say here will go towards representing you as the business owner.
If it helps, think about what Abraham Lincoln once said; Better to remain silent and be thought a bad business person, than to rage at customers and remove all doubt.
Or something like that.
More Nasty Side Effects to Watch Out For
Other than the penalties from Etsy, there are unexpected side effects that you may be subjected to. One such side effect of receiving a negative feedback is that future customers who experience even the slightest glitch (a delayed delivery due to the postal service, for e.g.) will feel it's their duty to warn others of your "terrible service" and won't hesitate to leave you your second negative feedback.
They can see you have one already, so their feelings of guilt are diffused. There's nothing to hold them back. After the seal is broken, it can snowball. And you need to prepare for that possibility.
You may also receive abusive comments. My first customer, after receiving the negative feedback, sent me some difficult messages asking me if I was really a scam. There's nothing you can do about this sort of thing. If it happens to you, just accept it as part of the process of getting your reputation back in the balance and keep moving forward.
What About That Ghastly 4/5 Star Average Rating?
I have loads of 5 star feedbacks and just one negative review, why do I now have 4/5 stars showing as my overall average? This is the question I wanted answered.
And the answer is a mixture of future feedbacks plus time, but mostly time. Etsy only keep you in their bad books for a certain amount of time, as your average feedback is calculated over a 12 month period.
After 12 months, as long as you've not received any more negative feedback, you'll have your 5/5 star average back.
It's just a case of waiting it out.
Final Thoughts And A Few Things To Keep In Mind
If you feel the need to be proactive about getting back on top, then these are the things to begin with:
Make every other part of your store look beautiful; add a profile picture that shows your face, so that people can see who you really are, write a welcoming shop announcement, add more information to your policies, create an interesting About page.
You want your shop to sing to your customers like a siren from a Greek myth. Demand their attention, enchant them and compel them to buy from you.
And most importantly, go easy on yourself. Many customers regard a 4/5 average rating as the sign of a good seller and the fact you're here reading this shows that you do indeed care. Just keep going and it will all work itself out.