One of the things that comes up a lot on the Fiverr forum is the matter of negative reviews, and more specifically, how to remove them. I have two answers to that question:
Don’t deliver work that you know deserves a negative review. Seriously, sellers: don’t serve poo-tar on a plate and think you’re going to get glowing reviews for your effort.
If you can prove that the negative review is abusive or simply untrue, you can petition customer support to have the review removed. Be aware that if you go this route, you’re going to need screenshots and documentation to support your claim. Customer support doesn’t remove negative reviews just to protect your ego, only when the review itself is abusive or untrue.
So with that in mind, it’s actually easier to prevent negative reviews than to have them removed, and preventing negative reviews is all about quality service and customer service. If your work sucks, that’s entirely your fault and you deserve the negative review. But customer service? That’s very important because it gives you the opportunity to manage buyer expectations and ensure that your buyer actually wants what you have to deliver. Misunderstandings are easily encountered, but also easily prevented, and the best way to do that is with a business policy.
Depending on who you are and what you’re offering, a business policy is going to look like a lot of things, but at its core it will answer the following questions:
- What you will do.
- What you won’t do.
- How to place an order.
- When to expect delivery.
- Refund policy.
- Optional: What happens to rude, argumentative, and abusive clients.
- What the client should expect when working with you.
- What the client should not expect when working with you.
Before we continue, you’re welcome to look at an example of this business policy as shown on my gig profile. Just click on my name at the top of the post and look at the PDF files in my preview gallery to see what mine looks like.
Getting back to business! Now, your gig description doesn’t have enough space to answer these questions, so you have two options:
Write your business policy in not more than 3 8.5x11 pages and upload it to your preview gallery. I recommend this option because this way it’s not possible for the client to say that he or she couldn’t load an external link, and when it comes to busting bad reviews, you can’t prove what the client couldn’t do at his or her end of the Internet on a non-Fiverr website.
Record your business policy as a YouTube video and provide the link inside the order instructions presented to the client at the time of purchase. Depending on the service you provide, a video may be better because it gives you the ability to show certain kinds of visual work.
The reason you want to have a business policy is because this allows you to clearly define who you are, manage your buyer’s expectations, and create the customer service / sales environment necessary to ensure that your buyers will understand exactly what they’re getting. If negative reviews are happening, yeah - maybe your work sucks - but in most cases, negative reviews are the result of buyer expectations that don’t match seller realities. You have the power to manage buyer expectations and create the circumstances in which negative reviews are highly unlikely to happen.
Now, simply having a business policy isn’t enough: you have to integrate it into your sales funnel.
If your business policies are uploaded to the preview gallery, refer to them in your preview video.
Edit your gig’s instructions to the buyer to say something along the lines of, “If you’re a first-time buyer with me, please review my business policies located in the preview gallery below my gig’s video introduction (or at this link here, etc.)” Chances are pretty good that your buyer won’t notice the business policies on the first step, but when you figuratively grab the clients’ ears and make them listen, it’s harder to ignore.
If you offer revisions or modifications: At the time of delivery, include a message like, “I want you to feel great about leaving a five-star positive review. If you’re not satisfied with your order for any reason, please request a modification and give me a chance to make it right.”
So by this point, you’ve told the buyer to read your business policies, and closed with the promise that they’re welcome to contact you if they don’t like their order. If your client is a reasonable person, by this point he or she will understand what you will and won’t do; understand how to place an order and when you’ll deliver it; understand that they can communicate with you if the order isn’t what was expected; understand what you won’t tolerate from clients; and understand what the entire experience should feel like from start to finish.
Going back to one of the things discussed at the beginning of this article - how to remove negative reviews - a business policy is a very powerful tool because when you properly implement it into your sales funnel, it’s a powerful deterrent against negative reviews. But again, going back to the original discussion, what happens when you get an abusive or simply untrue negative review? The first solution is to talk it out with the buyer, but chances are pretty good that the buyer hasn’t much interest in communicating with you. So your next step is to take screenshots of the review and all communication with the buyer and open a ticket with customer support. Show customer support everything you did to provide what the client wanted, and use your business policies to demonstrate that the buyer made unreasonable demands or had unrealistic expectations.
And if you’re wondering, I’m not speaking from theory: this is based on lived experience. For example, I had a first-time client place a $30 order with me. She didn’t tell me her name, and chose to provide very vague instructions. Both of which are fine: I don’t need to know my clients on a first-name basis, and I told the buyer that her decision to provide no real context for the order would result in her needing to contact me for further work. Guessing names is something I don’t do, I always provide follow-up until the client is satisfied, and the client would have known these things if she had read my business policies.
Would you be surprised to hear that the buyer didn’t contact me for additional work (at no extra charge), chose to accept the delivery, and leave a two-star negative review? Yeah, I was a little bit surprised, too. When I left a reasonable two-star review in response explaining that I don’t play guessing games and that I specifically asked the buyer to follow-up with me, the buyer edited the review to one-star review and claimed that I lied.
At this point, if I was a less intelligent seller, I’d be stuck with that review. But because I have clear business policies, strong customer service, the client was upset due to her own ignorance about me as a seller and her choice to not review my business policies, and I could show that the customer’s accusation was untrue, customer support removed that review.
And that, fellow sellers, is how to prevent and remove negative reviews.