The first 55+ reviews on my Etsy shop were all 5 stars. I boldly stated that in each listing on my shop in the description. I was so beyond proud that I started this little Etsy shop in my house and people were loving my items. Logically thinking, the likelihood of only having 5-star reviews wouldn’t last forever.

But, I never expected this unhappy customer on Etsy.

I didn’t expect it to end the way it did. I’m sharing this to help Etsy sellers learn from my mistakes and to give them a reminder (because it can be so easily forgotten) that the customer should love the product even if you didn’t make a mistake. You may be reacting poorly and not realize ithat n the heat of the moment.

A customer of mine purchased an item and requested a custom color I didn’t have. It was an easy customization to do, however, so I did that with no complaint, even though completing the task ended up costing me more money than I made on the order. I viewed it as an investment for future orders.

The buyer even bought more of the same item and again customized another color for part of the order, so it was a mix of customized and non-customized items. I again purchased what I needed to complete the customization.

That served as a lesson to always make the customer happy because in less than a week they were already a repeat buyer. They were sent a proof of the item before shipment where I found another request they had to the order and happily obliged.

I was the perfect seller until something went wrong.

How I screwed up:

When the client received their item, one of the non-customized items wasn’t to their liking.

Here we go. I finally had my first unhappy customer on Etsy.

The customer sent me a message, asking if I had shipped the wrong item because the color in person looked different than online.

I’m sure many of you can relate to this particular issue. It’s one of the downfalls of online sales: the customer can’t actually see the color before ordering. They just hope it looks the same as it did on their monitor.

I know for a fact that I sent the correct color that was purchased, but here’s what I did wrong:

  • I told the client that I was sorry they THOUGHT it was different. Then, I reaffirmed that it was the correct item.

First Lesson learned: I didn’t validate their disappointments or concerns. It doesn’t matter if I sent them the correct item. It only matters if they like it, which they obviously didn’t. Instead, I choose to become prideful and defensive and insist that it was the correct item.

  • I told her if she purchased more I would fix it. The item wasn’t broke and therefore I didn’t think I should have to make more items for free.

Second Lesson learned: I tried to make her spend more money to fix something she didn’t like from my shop. And it would’ve only cost me $7 to fix it, shipping included. That’s only pennies to make a customer happy. Or I simply could’ve asked her to return the item, instead of growing defensive. Customer service is a huge reason that your customers chose you on Etsy over a big box store.  Don’t let greed, pride, or your bottom line get in the way of fixing an issue with your customers. Clients come first!

  • When I was responding to the customer, my hands were shaking! I was so worked up that I couldn’t concentrate. This was the first time someone was disappointed in how a finished product turned out.

Third Lesson learned: Never respond when emotional!! This is such a no brainer, but I didn’t realize how worked up I was in the heat of the moment. My thought was, “I only have 5-star reviews, I obviously know what I’m doing with customer service.” WRONG. After rereading the messages I had sent the customer earlier, only then did I realize how defensive and harsh I sounded.

In the meantime, while I was realizing how poorly I responded, the buyer left a review less than 5 stars.

I could have let a poor review stand and just accept that it was bound to happen eventually. I considered relying on all of my other 5 star reviews to overpower one bad review from an unhappy customer on Etsy.

But, I knew one bad review wasn’t my problem. It was the fact that I had an unhappy customer and I knew I wanted to try and fix it.

How I fixed my giant screwup:

  • I apologized profusely to my client and offered to refund the items they were unhappy with. Then, I promised to make new items and ship them all free of charge. I asked questions to truly understand what my client wanted and promised to send pictures of the item before it shipped.

Fourth Lesson learned: Swallow your dang pride and apologize!! Customers, especially on Etsy, are almost always willing to work with you if you at least try! I was somewhat rude the customer still allowed me the chance to fix my errors after the fact.

I made sure to check in on the item once the customer had received it and asked if they loved the item with no mention of the review.

Hopefully, you’ve noticed that I haven’t even mentioned asking for a change in the review yet. That’s crucial! It’s not about changing the review. So you can’t seem like that’s all your after because any seller better not be!

Once the customer has responded and has confirmed the new items are to their satisfaction, only then did I kindly ask that they consider changing their review…and that’s it! It’s not a, “Well I fixed your problem, so fix your review.”

Only mention changing the review as an option and NEVER a demand. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT badger your client for a changed review.

This happened to me recently as a customer after leaving a less than perfect review and I actually lowered my review even more because they asked three separate times to change my honest review. That’s not good customer service; that’s being a bully. Always, always take the high road.


Your Big Takeaway:

Do what you can to make your customers happy and fix your mistakes.

Leave it at that, and move on.

Some customers will be very forgiving; others are just never happy no matter what you do. If you truly have a customer that is never satisfied, don’t spend any more time on them! Do what it takes to get rid of them and leave them in your past. Don’t dwell on it. Focus on moving forward, not backward.

The unhappy customer on Etsy may or may not change their review and it’s hard to move on. You can always comment on their review and give your side of the story (as long as your kind and professional).

Here’s some great advice I recently heard that helps in this situation: you can only do so much and then it’s out of your hands.