As we’ve discussed here previously, tracking and addressing online customer reviews of your products - particularly the negative ones - is a mission-critical component of your brand protection strategy.
But as important as all online reviews are to your company, both because they will influence the market’s perception of your brand and because they can provide you with valuable business intelligence, there are certain types of reviews that demand priority treatment. For example, if someone told you an Amazon customer review on one of your products contained the word “COUNTERFEIT” or “FAKE,” you’d definitely want to drop everything and look into that right away. Right?
With that in mind, let’s discuss a few types of keywords in online reviews that you’ll want to flag for your team’s immediate scrutiny and action. And if you don’t yet have an automated brand protection platform that offers 24/7 online review tracking and reporting, we’ll talk about that too.
The “damage” or “defect” keywords
One type of online customer review you’ll want to be alerted about right away, no matter where online it’s published, is a review containing words that indicate your product arrived broken or present a danger to the consumer. Some have suggested that major marketplaces, like Amazon, also monitor these keywords to decide which product listings might be defective and to pull them. We’re thinking of terms such as:
- Not working
- Not sealed
What this could mean, and your next steps:
As we pointed out in our previous post on dealing with negative customer reviews, a review that describes your product as arriving broken or defective can give you some valuable business intelligence.
It could represent a problem with your shipping partner. Are they mishandling your inventory in-transit? Catching a review like this early enough could help you put an end to whatever problems that shipper has so this doesn’t become a trend.
More concerning, though, is that these terms showing up in customer reviews could represent a flaw in the product itself, so you’ll want to investigate that ASAP to prevent more lots of units going out through your distribution channels. Bad product in market creates tons of customer service challenges and a huge financial hit throughout every level of the distribution channel.
The sooner you catch this type of review, the sooner you can trace the source of the problem so your team can deal with it.
Sometimes this type of review is also a sign that the retailer who sold the product is an unauthorized seller and not one of your official retail partners. These companies frequently don’t care about establishing a continuing relationship with your brand - they’re only interest is a quick sale - so they might be sloppy in how they store or ship your products to customers. This means you might want to look into the reseller, to figure out if your company has any relationship with them or if they’ve used underhanded means to acquire your inventory for resale.
Finally, a review suggesting your product arrived broken or defective could also simply be a phony review posted by a competitor and written to hurt your brand. In this case, your next step should be try to figure out if the review is from an actual customer or a phony. With Amazon, for example, look for an Amazon Verified Purchase badge. If you’re suspicious the review might be a fraud, you can contact the marketplace and ask for their help. (Here you’ll find a few more strategies for dealing with fake customer reviews.)
You might even be able to persuade Amazon to remove the negative review altogether, because the customer’s complaint is clearly about the shipping and not the product itself.
The “delivery” keywords
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for customer reviews containing keywords suggesting a problem with how your products were delivered. Here you’re looking for words such as:
- Shipping (or shipped)
- Delivery (or delivered)
What this could mean, and your next steps:
If a customer review states your product was delivered later than the shipping details promised, you’ll need to take action quickly to figure out whether the incident was a one-off mistake or a symptom of a larger problem.
Assuming the product was sold through one of your resellers, you’ll want to contact them to find out how they manage their shipping partners. Let them know you’ve found evidence they are not making good on their delivery-time promises, and demand they fix the problem.
If the customer review refers to the carrier by name - say, UPS - you might also want to contact them directly and ask about the shipment. You might learn that although your reseller promises 2-to-3-day delivery through UPS, they aren’t actually preparing the inventory for pickup for a day or more after the date of purchase, making it unlikely the carrier will be able to deliver on time.
The “counterfeit” keywords
Of course, you’ll want to prioritize your responses to any customer reviews that suggest the product they purchased turned out not to be a genuine item from your company - but instead a fake. Here you’re going to be on the lookout for terms in customer reviews such as:
- Not real
- Not genuine
What this could mean, and your next steps:
Counterfeit products today affect just about every industry, from apparel to cosmetics to jewelry to electronics to toys and even prescription drugs and medical equipment. In fact, a 2017 research study estimates the counterfeiting industry worldwide now represents a trillion dollars.
All of which is to say if a customer posts a review complaining a product of yours that they ordered was a fake, you need to take that accusation seriously, and start investigating right away.
Again, your best bet here will be to trace the source of the sale. Was it one of your authorized dealers? If you don’t recognize the seller’s name, you’ll want to try contacting them. Conduct a test buy, and document all details of the transaction. If they’re selling your products on a marketplace like Amazon, contact the marketplace itself and ask that they pull the listing.
At the same time, you’ll want to compile evidence that the company is violating your intellectual property rights. Even if you can’t prove immediately that the items they’re selling are in fact counterfeit versions of your inventory, you can still document your sales copy, imagery, and any other copyrighted and trademarked material the retailer is using to sell your products.
With a marketplace like Amazon - and, if it comes to this, in an intellectual property theft lawsuit - documenting how they’re using your copyrighted content without permission should go a long way to proving your case. And you may be able to work with law enforcement or customs officials to seize the counterfeit inventory or in civil court with your lawyer to seek a judgement and recover damages, including directly from the counterfeiter’s bank accounts.
And finally, post a response to that customer immediately, asking them to call your customer service or a direct line to make sure they receive your attention and help. When you can speak with this customer on-one-one, you can ask for more information, such as what the seller’s name was, so you can then take that info to Amazon for delisting.
If you determine their complaint is genuine and there’s a good chance they were duped into buying a knockoff of your product, it’s a good idea to apologize and make good in whatever way you’re comfortable—including sending this customer a genuine product as a replacement.
Automate your customer review tracking and keyword alerts
When it comes to reacting to each of these types of red-flag customer reviews, you’ll need to move quickly to minimize the potential damage. If you miss a customer review with the keyword “late” in it, you might not realize your reseller has a systemic problem until there are a lot more similar reviews online - and that could harm your brand.
So your best strategy will be to automate this process. You’ll want an online Brand Protection platform that includes automated review tracking like the one offered by TrackStreet and that lets you flag as many keywords as you want - broken, counterfeit, late, damaged - and monitor the entire web at all times for those terms. Then you’ll want the system to send you immediate alerts anytime a review gets posted containing one of your flagged terms, so you can spring into action quickly.
Let us show you how to automate customer review tracking.