Every business owner or operator understands the power of online reviews, right? According to Podium, online reviews are becoming ever more important to how we as consumers do business, with 93% of consumers saying that online reviews do influence their purchasing decisions.
So, you know to solicit reviews, and hopefully you’re getting some good ones, whether they’re on Amazon, Google, Yelp, Facebook or in a directory like Best of the Web.
But for the hard-pressed business owner, responding to reviews seems like just one more chore. It is really necessary? After all, a great review is a great review, so no response is required. And isn’t it best to ignore a bad review?
On the contrary, responding to reviews – both positive and negative – should be seen as a crucial part of your marketing strategy. Here’s why, with some tips on how to handle both the good and the bad.
Why Respond to a Positive Review?
A positive review is a golden opportunity to have a public conversation with someone saying lovely things about your brand. What’s not to love about that? What’s more, done correctly, your response to a positive review can boost your search engine rankings. Your response also shows that you are, well, responsive as a company, and that you do care about your customers. Besides, if someone were to compliment you in real life, you’d say thank you – so responding to a positive review is simply the polite thing to do.
How to Respond to a Positive Review
1. Say thank you and that you appreciate the customer taking the time to share their experience.
2. Pick up on something or someone specific they mention in their review:
- “You’re right about Darren’s cocktail shaking – we’re speechless most of the time too!”
- “We love the view from room 12 too – just perfect for taking in the sunset at the end of a long day!”
- “Choco-mint is our manager’s favorite flavor too – especially stirred with a candy cane!”
3. Suggest something the customer might like to try next time, or mention something they might not know about your business:
- “Next time you visit, check out our Tuesday evening live bands – always something fantastic to listen to!”
- “Since you enjoyed our seafood platter, you’ll probably love our pasta. Try our seafood linguine with organic chilli flakes next time you come!”
- “Did you know that we’ve just launched a loyalty card? Don’t forget to grab your points next time you visit.”
4. If you can do it while sounding natural, try to sprinkle keywords, your business name and your location into your response:
- “We’re so glad you love your fresh, clean home. We do take pride in being the best maid service in Los Angeles, and our DreamClean team members always love to hear reviews like this one.”
Why Respond to a Negative Review?
When things are not so rosy and someone leaves a bad review of your product or service, it’s very tempting to stick your head in the sand and ignore it. Unfortunately, ignoring it will not make it go away – and your lack of a response will make future potential customers think you simply don’t care.
It’s therefore essential to respond – preferably quickly – to any negative reviews you receive. Even though you may be angry or hurt about what has been said, think of it as an opportunity to speak to future customers, rather than this individual customer. It also gives you the chance to potentially put things right. By and large, consumers can be very forgiving when a business genuinely tries to make up a mistake or a poor service.
How to Respond to a Negative Review
1. Apologize and empathize. This is absolutely critical, even if you feel that the review was unjustified or simply untrue. You do not have to admit fault if you think you were in the right, but you must acknowledge the customer’s feelings;
- “I’m very sorry to read about your unpleasant experience at our Wilmington branch. Thank you for drawing it to our attention.”
- “Thank you for letting us know about your experience – I’m so sorry to hear that it clouded the rest of your day.”
2. Do not get drawn into details. Your aim is to keep the response short, to the point and polite, so resist the temptation to refute particular points in the review or to argue your case.
3. Do provide an offline contact for resolving the situation:
- “We’d like to better understand what happened so that we can address the matter. Please call our customer services on xxxx so that we can get to the bottom of this for you.”
And that’s all you need to do. You’ve apologized, you’ve empathized, and you’ve offered an offline channel for further discussion – that’s the best way to minimize the damage negative online reviews can do.