Like most business owners, you have likely received an online review at some point – good or bad. These reviews are what potential customers see and how many base their opinion about your business. Responding to reviews is important and sheds additional light on how you conduct business. Negative reviews can drastically hurt a business, especially small businesses. Learning how to appropriately respond to reviews–both positive and negative–is an excellent way to take a negative situation and turn it into something positive.
Here are 3 tips for effectively managing your online reputation and responding to reviews on behalf of your business.
1. Respond to All Reviews
All reviews deserve to be answered. It is important to show your audience you care about their thoughts and are actively engaged in the content posted about your business. This can be especially true for social media as more people are utilizing this platform to voice their experiences about restaurants, retail stores, and even in Facebook groups focused on selling Consumer to Consumer, i.e. “Swip Swap…”
Most reviews are not biased or forced to be written by anyone, so it is important when you receive a negative review to take the customer’s point of view into consideration. Craft a friendly, courteous response showing dignity, poise, and professionalism. Do not argue with the customer. If you feel the topic of discussion is going to get heated, attempt to directly message the customer, or ask them to give you a call or email so the issue is resolved offline.
Positive reviews need responses as well. With many things clamoring for their attention, the fact that someone took the time to write a positive review is valuable and should be recognized. There might not be an issue, but addressing what they enjoyed about their experience, i.e. a particular staff member, a specific dish, or just a well-rounded encounter, can create a loyal customer that knows the business appreciates their patronage.
Consumers want to feel like their opinion matters, so validate this feeling by responding to their kind words they left about your business. Keep the response short, directly address their viewpoint, and make it friendly! It is not enough to just say, “Thank you for the review!” If the business did not receive all 5-stars, then something about their ordeal presented an issue. Acknowledge how the business did not earn 5-stars and ask what could be done to improve their experience next time. This simple gesture can lead to problems that could have needed fixing prior to the reviews, i.e. dirty bathrooms, long wait times, too crowded, etc.
2. Address any Issues
When responding to reviews, be sure to address the issues head-on. Whether they had terrible service, a cold meal, or an unpleasant experience, it’s important you acknowledge the specific issue and assure that you’re handling it accordingly. In your response to negative reviews, be sure to apologize for their issue and ask them to politely give the store or manager a call so the issue can be discussed further. As noted above, positive reviews need to be addressed as well. This allows for an engaging conversation with the customer, which could lead to future business. Letting them know you care about what is being said and that you are going to resolve the issues, no matter how small, can resonate with a customer. Addressing the issue allows for the problem to become real making it easier to resolve, instead of something that is believed to never have been a problem.
3. Personalize the message
The commentor took their time to write a review, so it is important to take a few moments and personalize the response message. Imagine having an absolutely terrible experience and the response is, “We are terribly sorry about your experience. Please let us know how we can fix the issue. Thanks, XYZ Business.” Sure, the review was responded to and the issue addressed, but it is the exact, same response used for every negative review. This clearly communicates a lack of care by the business (the opposite of what you’re going for). Instead, personalize the response.
A response that specifically addresses the comments, tags or uses the person’s name, and is unique to other responses will let the customer know it is a real person typing the response, not just a generic robot response. Here is an example of a personalized review, “Karen, we are truly saddened to learn your experience at Oceans View was unpleasant. We wish all our customers have a truly unique experience and to see your waiter did not arrive for an hour does not sit well. We will address this issue and ensure your next experience is more enjoyable. Can we know more details about what happened? Please feel free to message us directly or give us a call at (999) 555-5555. Thank you, Terry.”
This response shows how much the ordeal means to the business to want to straighten it out. The use of the specific event, the name of the person leaving the review, and the use of emotions demonstrates an actual person took their time to respond and wishes to take action to correct the issue.
This is also made public, so others can view your amicable responses towards potential customers and get a real feeling they will be treated correctly at this establishment. Responding to reviews will help generate a brand personality that potential customers will notice. This brand personality is what will drive increased sales and create loyal customers who know they will be treated with respect and kindness when they visit your establishment.
Overall, responding to reviews heavily impacts the way people perceive your business, whether positive or negative. It is important to stay on top of reviews and ensure your reputation is held and maintained to a high standard not only for you but your customers as well. By following these 3 tips, your online reputation can improve and change any existing negative perceptions.
If this sounds great but you don’t know where to begin, we can help! For more information on how PTE can manage and improve your online reputation, contact us.