5 Golden Rules To Help TpT And TES Sellers Deal With Poor Reviews

None of us like to get a bad review but occasionally we all get them.

First things first…

Is it really a bad review?

A 3 or 4 star rating with a positive comment IS NOT A BAD REVIEW.

Let me say that again for the people at the back… a 3 or 4 star review with a POSTIVE COMMENT is not a bad review.

I think part of the problem is how different people interpret the star rating system. I see a lot of sellers who take it very personally if they get anything below a 5 star rating and I think its because this is how many sellers interpret the 5 stars…

Seller review expectations

Therefore whenever they see a 4 star rating being awarded to their products they see it as their product being below expectation. However, somebody else may well interpret the 5 stars as follows…

Buyer review expectations

And by giving a 4 star rating they are actually saying the resource is a little above their expectation. Using a star rating is open to so much personal interpretation.

I have received many reviews and have learnt that some people don’t give 5 star reviews out of principle! Take this one for example (name removed to preserve the reviewer’s identity) …

3 star Great review

The comment is “Great” but only gave me 3 stars. I could stress about it, worry about how it will affect my sales but really there is nothing I can do about it - so why worry!

I can’t control their internal thought process. All I can do is control how I reply and that is very important.

Imagine you are witnessing an argument in the street and somebody shouted something rude to somebody else. We would immediately look at the recipient of the rude comment to see how they reacted. It’s just human nature.

If there’s a poor review then we want to read the reply to see how somebody reacted.

In a poll most customers said the star rating made no difference in their purchasing decision. The real influence is the comment the reviewer made and how the seller responded.

If a potential customer sees a low star rated product, many will click on it out of curiosity to see what the comment and seller reply was. If the comment was positive but the star rating was low, they tend to think poorly of the reviewer for giving a low star rating, rather than think poorly of the resource creator.

The only time you may come across badly in this situation is if you react badly in your reply.

Making sarcastic comments look bad on you – DON’T DO IT.

If it is a 3 or 4 star review with a positive comment, it is not a bad review so thank them and move on.

Do they have a point?

We all make mistakes and sometimes we just need to hold up our hands and admit we got it wrong. Just yesterday I got a review of a free product I uploaded.

Mistake in product

The reviewer was very polite, and they only knocked me down 1 star but the resource did have a mistake in it.

To be honest they could have knocked me down far more because the video that was missing was actually quite central to the whole lesson.

In these situations, I sort out the problem first and then reply as quickly as I can. You never know, the teacher may be relying on that lesson for that day so I tend to think of these as priority tasks and shuffle my schedule accordingly.

I reply, apologising at the beginning of the message and once again at the end. It is very difficult for people to be annoyed with you if you apologise a lot – but maybe that’s just my default English nature 😊.

I explain briefly that the problem has been solved and then tell them they can download it again.

Sometimes I offer an alternative if that is appropriate, as in this case. I also like to sign off with my name as that makes me more human.

Your replies to reviews do get read by others and by adding your name it gives a stronger impression of taking a personal interest in your customers.

I don’t put my name in all my reviews. Usually I simply say what I need and move on but occasionally I put my name at the end if I think it will defuse a difficult situation or I have made a mistake.

Are they asking for something you didn’t offer?

This is annoyingly common.

Review asking for something not included

Here they have not read the description and were expecting something more.

The first thing I would do is make sure the description is as clear as possible so teachers know exactly what they’re getting from me. If you think your description is ambiguous and not clear enough re-write it or add to your description first. Then reply to the customer and apologise your description wasn’t clearer and that you’ve now rectified it.

If the description clearly stated what was included then politely thank them for their review and apologise it was not what they were expecting. I also bring their attention to what is said in the description, without being rude.

In the review above they also wanted to use the same wording for definitions as were used in a published book which would be under copyright, so I explain why that is not possible.

I must admit I am being slightly cheeky in mentioning my other products at the end. I don’t for a moment think that the original reviewer would buy the other products but they may be of interest to other teachers who are thinking of purchasing this product but may want something more substantial.

Keep your reply polite and briefly explain your reasons for declining their request of including something you are not willing to include.

Here is another example of a poor review because they want it editable and my reply to them.

Review asking for editiable product

Sometimes people are just being nasty

There are occasions when people just write you a bad review. Take this one for example…

Negative TES review

Here I tend to use both their name and my name as that makes us both more human. You have to keep polite, clearly and firmly put forward your reasons for disagreeing with them and don’t get personal.

Once again, I’ve been very cheeky (probably because I was annoyed) and I used their post as a sounding board to advertise my book. It made me feel better without being rude.

Don’t expect a two way conversation.

Their review is not a start of a conversation. There is no point in asking for more feedback or asking them questions.

If you say “Please let me know how it can be improved” it looks as if you don’t know what you are doing or can’t be bothered to look at your own product and sort out the problem yourself.

Read their comments (if they have made any) and address any specific concerns they may raise but if they have only left a star rating, thank them for taking the time to leave a review and move on.

Dealing with multiple poor reviews on a product

It can be demoralising. It can be heart breaking. But...take a deep breath and try to keep calm.

If you’re getting lots of poor reviews on one resource maybe have a look again at your product or even ask somebody else to look at it and see where you can improve it.

We're not always going to get it right first time and sometimes we may have to admit that we've just got it wrong.

It can be really difficult to be objective but it maybe that your product isn’t working and needs a re-think.

Sometimes it can be as simple as including an extra paragraph in the teacher’s notes explaining what to do. Sometimes spell checking and proof reading needs to be improved. Maybe you need to include the answers, look again at your house style etc. These can all have a huge effect on the perceived quality of a product.

Once you’ve improved it, update your covers, description and previews and try again.

Golden rules to remember

Rule 1 – Don’t take it personally

The reviewer may be having a bad day, hate their job, just come out of a terrible lesson, their dog died or a thousand and one other reasons and they may have taken it out on you.

Most people don’t leave bad reviews but when they do it is not you they are annoyed at but usually something else.

Possibly, their lesson went badly so they blame it on the resource. If there is a mistake, they blow it out of proportion and give you a 1 star review.

It is not you they are annoyed at - they don't even know you.

They are over worked, under pressure and possibly had to amend something they thought would be the perfect solution - so they let off steam in the reviews.

Keep calm, keep polite and keep professional.

Rule 2 – If they have a valid point act on it

If there is a mistake, correct it and apologise.

It can be difficult to hear but sometimes our resources are not as good as we like to think they are. Could your description be clearer? Are your preview images really not showing what customers get without giving away too much? Should you include an answer key?

Rule 3 - Keep your reply professional and polite

Remember how you react to reviews is read by others.

Make sure you’re keeping professional and don’t lower yourself to sarcasm, rudeness or name calling. Acting unprofessionally will do far more damage to your reputation than the poor star rating or comment did in the first place.

Rule 4 - Do not ignore it

Reply but remember to keep it polite and professional.

If you ignore a poor review, it looks worse on you. Its like you are saying “I don’t care enough about my customers”.

You have to do something.

If you are really angry, calm down first. Write your review in a document, save it and come back to it the next day as you may feel you need to tone it down before you post it.

Rule 5 – If necessary you can get the review removed

If the review is bad (1 or 2 stars) and the comment is saying something that is incorrect then you can report the comment to TpT or TES and request to get the review taken down. They often do this if the review is seen as unfair or untrue.

If you clearly explain what is included in the description and they are asking for something that you don’t say is included, then you can also get those reviews taken down. I tend to leave those reviews there as it helps others who may have misunderstood the description but I know some teacherpreneurs like to get them removed.

If you found this helpful, you can get loads more tips and tricks when you download this free 23-page guide to help you start selling on TpT and TES.

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