Part and parcel of running a craft business is receiving feedback from customers — both good and bad.
And because most craft businesses are run online, feedback is generally given online too — which can mean that the whole world can see it.
Whether it’s in your Facebook and Etsy reviews, Instagram comments or in a strongly worded email, feedback will find you.
Of course, when you get a good review, there’s nothing better than seeing it out there in all its glory for all your potential customers to see.
But when it’s bad, it can be embarrassing and even damaging to your business if you don’t handle it in the right way.
We’ve compiled this guide on how to handle negative feedback in your craft business and turn it into a positive, and how to use any positive feedback to generate more sales.
Let’s get down to it…
- 1 How to Handle Negative Feedback
- 2 How to Handle Positive Feedback
How to Handle Negative Feedback
However well-run your business is, however high quality your products, you can guarantee that you’ll receive some negative feedback at some point.
People love to complain, and people on the internet especially love to complain.
Sometimes the complaint will feel unfair and undeserved, but very occasionally you may feel like the complainant has a point.
Don’t Clap Back
The one underlying principle in dealing with complaints is to remain professional at all times.
It can be incredibly tempting to clap back with a zinger, especially if you feel that the feedback is wrong or unfair, but ultimately it’s up to you to take the high road here. The customer has spent money on your product and, rightly or wrongly, they feel that it hasn’t delivered on their expectations.
If you’re dealing with negative feedback about a product in public — say on a social media post or Etsy review — it’s best to acknowledge the customer and ask them politely if they mind either direct messaging or emailing you with the full details of the problem so you can look into the issue for them.
This way, potential future buyers can see that you deal with problems quickly and in a professional manner, giving them confidence in buying from you in the future. Hopefully you’ll have enough good reviews to more than balance out anything negative you receive.
We know how tempting it can be to jump in and send a sarcastic reply in the heat of the moment, but that will do your business and customers no favors at all.
Take a breath, and take the high road.
Stand By Your Policies
Occasionally, people will complain about your policies — whether it’s an issue with returns, refunds, mock-ups or even discounts.
As long as you make sure that your policies are well documented and easily viewable on your Etsy store, website, Facebook page and wherever else you’re selling, you will be able to fall back on these.
Say, for instance, that a customer rants that you only allowed 2 changes to a mock-up on a Facebook post. You can thank them for their feedback but then direct them to the relevant number in your store policies that says you only allow a maximum of two changes. Ideally, you’ll have also told them of this when they placed their order so you can remind them that they were fully aware of this policy before ordering.
There’s no need to bend over backwards and go against what you’ve already decided are your store policies just because a difficult person is throwing a tantrum.
As long as your policies are well documented and obvious, you should be able to stand behind them proudly.
Acknowledge Any Mistakes
Sometimes things go wrong when you’re running a crafts business.
Perhaps you missed an order, overcharged a customer, the parcel got lost in the post. These things happen.
It’s imperative that you deal with mistakes at your end quickly and reasonably to ensure that the customer is made whole and happy. Reasonable people know that things can go wrong occasionally — they’ll be much more likely to forgive and order again if you deal with their problem correctly.
Firstly, acknowledge any mistakes made and apologize if appropriate.
Rectify the issue as soon as you can — whether that’s sending out a replacement order, refunding them or whatever — and let them know what steps you’ve taken.
Finally, to bring yourself back into their good books, offer them some sort of goodwill gesture that’ll encourage them to order from you again. That could be a discount off their next order, free shipping or even a small free gift.
You want the customer to have only good interactions with you and your business — make sure that they finish the conversation feeling happy that they’ve been properly recompensed instead of still annoyed.
Manage Expectations from the Start
Generally speaking, people complain because they feel that they’ve been ripped off or sold a lie.
If your sales spiel mentions ‘luxury’ and ‘long-lasting’ for instance, many people are going to be annoyed when a product made of cheap materials turns up on their doorstep and doesn’t last more than a couple of washes.
When you manage expectations, however, customers always know what they’re receiving and don’t expect something that will never materialize.
That’s not to say that you can’t be positive in your product description, just make sure that you’re clear about the following features:
- Washing and care instructions
- Expected longevity of product
- Do the products run true to size, big or small, if you’re selling clothes
- Whether the product is waterproof and weatherproof
- Whether the product is suitable for children
- Exact dimensions
Put yourself in the customers’ shoes when you’re writing product descriptions and try to imagine everything that you might want to know before buying a product.
Make sure that they’re as well informed as possible before buying to stop complaints before they even happen.
Stay Positive and Learn from Your Mistakes
It’s easy to get disheartened when you receive a negative review but it’s important not to let it grind you down.
Potential customers don’t focus on individual reviews, but rather the overall star ratings for products so your main focus should be on ensuring that the vast majority of your reviews are positive so as to overshadow any occasional negatives.
If you find yourself getting a lot of negative reviews, then it’s time to sit yourself down and have a rethink about your products.
What are people mostly complaining about? Is it something that you can improve on?
Try and work out if it’s a problem with the products you’re selling or the way you’re selling them. Remember — managing expectations is key in the craft business world.
How to Handle Positive Feedback
Getting positive feedback is a much more joyous experience than dealing with complaints and should continually inspire you to keep creating.
But don’t see good reviews and comments as nothing more than just an ego-boost — they can also be used to drive your social media engagement and followings, as well as encourage more sales.
Acknowledge and Thank People
Especially in the early days of your business, you should be focusing on creating long-term customers and fans.
The best way to create these relationships is to make sure that you acknowledge and respond to every message and review you receive. This shows customers that you’re a real person behind the company, and that you value their feedback and respect.
We all love buying from small businesses rather than faceless corporations so do your best to cultivate relationships and followings wherever you can find them.
Create a Testimonials Page
One of the reasons people hesitate to buy from small crafts businesses is the issue of trust — do the products look as good as they do in the photos? Will they deliver on time?
By compiling your best reviews and feedback into a testimonials page, you can show potential customers that you can be trusted as a retailer and that they’re not risking anything by spending their hard earned money with you.
Seeing that other customers have had good experiences shopping with you, will increase the confidence that new customers have with you.
And more confidence = more sales.
One thing that many crafts businesses struggle with is funnelling their social media followers from mere fans to actual buyers of their products.
Encouraging them to move from Instagram to your store can be difficult.
A good way to do that though is to share your best reviews with your social media following on Facebook and Instagram.
You don’t have to share everything — this can get a little tiresome to watch — but throw in a screenshot of a great review every few days and you’ll get more and more of your followers becoming curious about your products to the point that they’ll eventually end up investing in you.
It’s important to show the origin of the review so that your followers have no doubt that the review is credible.
We recommend screenshotting a great Etsy review, for instance, then sharing it on your Instagram Stories, or even to your Facebook page.
This is an especially effective method for businesses that have large social media followings and want to generate more sales.
Are you considering launching a craft business?
Make sure you check out our comprehensive 130+ page guide ‘How To Launch A Successful Vinyl Cutting Business
It includes everything you need to know to launch your own vinyl cutting business and start making sales today
Find out what really works, and what doesn’t in 2019 — how can you come up with design ideas that your audience will love, and pay you for?
What do you think is the best way to handle feedback in your craft business?
For more tips and ideas on making money from crafts, check out our Craft Business section.