Over the past few weeks, Amazon has slowly been discontinuing the ability for brands and sellers to respond to customer reviews, spurring a need to rethink online customer engagement.
Starting late last year, some manufacturers received this notification:
You are receiving this email because you recently left a comment on a review.
While reviews and feedback are important to our customers and sellers, the comments feature on customer reviews was rarely used. As a result, we are retiring this feature on December 16, 2020.
We are committed to your continued success and will innovate and develop other opportunities for you to connect with customers.
This update, which hasn’t yet been rolled out to all brands or sellers, is the latest change affecting the way brands interact with Amazon shoppers, including new guidance on Seller Central messaging, stopping the use of drip emails through third-party platforms and changing “reviews” to “ratings.”
For now, those affected will no longer find the “comment” button found below a review. This button allowed anyone, not just brands, to engage with the review. In many cases, commenters asked for more specifics regarding a review, but the feature was typically used by brands to reach out to its Amazon customers. By responding to reviews, brands have been able to address issues out of their control, such as shipping issues or incorrect use of their product that resulted in customer dissatisfaction.
With the removal of the comment button, all prior responses to reviews, whether left by another online shopper or the brand, are removed. Still, brands can look to reviews to gain insights into the customer experience.
This is an example of a review before and after the change.
As Amazon updates its policies, we advise brands focus on these four customer engagement tactics:
1. Respond to Questions
While brands will no longer be able to respond to Amazon reviews and prior responses, they can effectively engage shoppers by quickly responding to their questions. Every question left unanswered is a sale that may be lost. Not only do current customers go to the questions and answers, but potential customers consider them before buying. As the new Amazon review policy is rolled out, this practice should be the centerpiece of customer engagement on the platform moving forward.
2. Collecting Data
Each product review is a data point to be used in marketing, product development, content development and other brand decisions. By using reviews to inform product descriptions, brands can mitigate negative reviews and common grievances and influence frequently asked questions.
3. Engage with Customers Elsewhere
As customers move more of their purchases to e-commerce platforms, it’s crucial to reply to reviews and answer questions on platforms that allow that interaction. Walmart and other retailers have or are developing review capabilities on their sites. We suggest engaging with customers as often as possible on those sites.
4. Reach Out to Customers on Social Media
The roles of social media and social commerce are gaining importance in online shoppers’ decision-making., as customers respond to brands’ Instagram and Facebook posts with reviews and questions. Engaging with this content is a great way to minimize negative feedback and position a brand, especially through private messaging.
As the digital marketplace evolves at an ever-increasing pace, it’s imperative brands stay nimble and up their online customer engagement game.
Written by: Anna Baron
As an E-commerce Branding Strategist, Anna Baron works closely with clients to develop and implement specific strategies in review management as well as paid and organic content. Her hardworking mindset lends well to executing her innovative and big picture objectives. With five years of experience in brand strategy, she has helped many brands seamlessly achieve their goals.