Let’s ask the simple question first: when looking for a new hairdresser, do you ask for recommendations from friends, or do you blindly walk into the first salon you come across?
I’ll just randomly assume your answer would be the former.
And like you would trust your friend’s advice and not subject your head of hair to an untrusted pair of scissors, online audiences and web searchers trust the comments and recs left on a businesses’ page by previous customers. In fact, 90% of those interviewed claimed a businesses’ reviews have an impact on their purchasing decision. Another interesting fact: 52% of customers expect to hear back from a brand after leaving a review, within 7 days or less.
Having these numbers in mind, it is clear just how impactful online reviews are nowadays. Leaving the review sections unchecked can lead to your business acquiring a rampant online reputation it may not actually deserve.
Because, let’s face it, there are people out there who get paid to leave negative and hurtful reviews. And there are those who simply like to vent their frustrations by making someone else’s day miserable. Not to mention the fact that you can buy positive reviews by the bucketful.
To help you combat all that, here’s our primer on responding to the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Use These 7 Tips for Responding to Positive and Negative Reviews
The Good – Positive Reviews
Getting a positive review from a satisfied customer can make your day, especially when it’s been a lousy one to boot.
However, there is more action required than cracking a smile and diving back into the meeting your notification has pulled you out of.
When you respond to a customer’s kind words, it will make them feel valued and important, and more likely to encourage them to make another purchase. Here’s how to go about it:
Responding as quickly as you can (without actually spending every free minute hooked to your Google My Business page) will keep you in the mind of your customer. They have probably left a review after their experience with your brand, and if they read your thank you note the following day, it will reinforce the pleasant experience they’ve had.
If you respond a few months after the fact, you will not be as appreciated – in fact, the customer may have already moved on to a competing company.
Keep it short and authentic
There is no need to go into a long-winded ramble that will defeat the purpose of your response. Say thank you, staying in line with your company’s tone and personality. If the customer has mentioned a specific product, offer a tip on its use.
If they liked their experience with a specific employee, comment on that, and never miss a chance to praise your team’s good work. The aim here is to connect with your supporters, not come off as generic. Adding a little personality to the responses will do just that.
Offer the next step
If you can, make sure to mention another product or service you think the customer might enjoy, based on the praise they have just given you. Maybe there’s a new flavor they can try next? Or are you coming up with an upgraded version of the product they’ve liked? Make sure you draw their attention to this fact and get them to come back for more.
The Bad – Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are not likely to cause anything but anxiety and discomfort. However hesitant you may be about replying – after all, no one likes online confrontation, this is your chance to improve your brand’s image.
Evaluate before acting
Even though your initial reaction might be to type out a reply at once, refraining from it might do more good. Keeping your emotions out of the equation might be more difficult initially, which is why you should step back and come up with a logical and factual response first, and only then actually write it out.
Wear The Customer’s Shoes
Before getting all defensive, try to imagine the customer’s point of view. They are obviously disappointed in a product or service you offer, or the experience they have had with your business. Gather as many facts as you can about the situation in question, and then examine it from the reviewer’s point of view.
This will make it easier to understand where the negativity is coming from. Look to Dan Rodrigues, the CEO of Kareo, and his responses on Glassdoor.
Offer A Solution, Rather Than An Apology
While you should also express that you are sorry the customer was not satisfied with their experience, you need to do more than apologize. Offer them an actionable next step – whether it be speaking to a particular person in the company, returning an item, or something else, make sure there is more to the response than just words.
Take the example of JetBlue Airways, who were quick to respond and offer a solution after a customer has complained about their service on Twitter. This is what will let your future customers know you care and are ready to help when things don’t go as planned.
The Ugly – Fake Reviews
It is estimated that 15 to 30 percent of reviews are actually fake. While they may be positive or negative (more often the latter), they serve no other purpose than to influence the decisions of those who are yet to do business with the company in question.
When you come across a review that is clearly a fake – and you have no record of ever doing business with the said person, respond in that vein. While it may at times be difficult to determine a review is fake (i.e. someone is complaining about an overdone chicken, yet none of your staff remember a complaint being lodged in person), your best bet is to ask for more information about the incident that has caused the review. Sooner or later, you will realize whether the complaint is genuine or not.
Even if you are dealing with a spammer, remain calm and collected at all times. No matter how annoying the fact that you are dealing with a bot is, the better you handle the situation, the better you will come out of the ordeal.
Online reviews are still a great way to determine what a company and its products or service are like before making a commitment and spending some money. And while they may not always be sincere, users still trust them. This alone should be reason enough to convince you that responding to your reviews is far from a waste of time: it is a great opportunity to promote your brand, one that you should not miss when it is being offered to you free of charge.