Reviews, both positive and negative, come with the territory of being a business and online reputation management. Some reviews are positive and say wonderful things about your business. Others are negative and detail customers frustrations about their experience. Regardless of whether a review is positive, negative, or somewhere in between, each and every review should be responded to in a timely manner. Many people we speak with want to know how to deal with online reviews. About 82% of American adults read reviews before they purchase something for the first time. That’s a lot of eyes looking at your reputation, so if you make sure your voice is present in the conversation you are able to help explain the negative reviews and encourage more positive ones.
You have probably had a variety of experiences with online reviews. You may have received good ones, bad ones, or posted your own about business. They’re important. When it comes to handling ones posted about your business, there are best practices we recommend to obtain the best outcome. In most cases, you want to reply for a variety of reasons. There may be reasons to send a private message (when possible). In other circumstances it may be best to do both. Finally, the one everyone hopes for, just report the review as spam and watch it disappear. We’ll cover all of these scenarios below.
Did you know: 68% of reviews on Yelp are 4 or 5- star reviews? If your reviews mimic this trend, that’s 68% of your customer base that you are ignoring if you only take the time to respond to the negative reviews. Another benefit of responding to positive reviews, is that it helps build a better relationship with your customers, especially your “brandvocates”. If you receive a great review from Tami -a single mom, who you made feel at ease when you fixed her refrigerator- and take the time to respond to her review, you have continued your relationship by showing that you care about her opinion. People looking for refrigerator repair will see that Tami felt at ease with your service and will be more likely to hire you. Instead of just telling five of her friends that you did a great job, Tami just told thousands of other people about her experience which results in a huge group of potential new customers. Although Yelp doesn’t allow you to respond publicly and send a private message, there are times when it is good to do both. Do so on those sites that allow it. If a customer has been extremely loyal for a long period of time or referred significant business, we recommend doing both. In most cases, a public reply is sufficient.
Responding to negative reviews also benefits your business. By responding to negative reviews, you are proving that you hear your customers’ complaints, care about their experience or concerns and will do something to make it right. You may respond to Mark, who visited your restaurant and felt his hamburger was too dry. By replying to Mark, you acknowledge that you hear his complaint and can offer to comp his next meal or let him know you’ll speak with the staff so Mark will be more willing to give you another opportunity to earn his loyalty. By showing those reading your reviews that you are willing to make a situation right, you are demonstrating a commitment to customer service and great experiences.
In some cases you may not need to make amends. Often, the customer just wants to be heard and know that a problem is being addressed. An important guideline is to not take reviews personally. The public doesn’t want to see you get upset because they will think your next outburst could be directed at them.
On those sites that allow you to post a comment and send a message, doing both may be a bad idea. Ideally, you want them off the review site. Continuing your disagreement on the site is counterproductive. Be wary of the situation and act according to how you feel they will be most likely to react.
Sometimes businesses receive reviews they don’t deserve. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to how to deal with online reviews. For our clients, we have seen reviews posted by their competitors, customers who never actually had work done, and outlandish requests that are impossible to fulfill. These are some of the few examples of reviews that can potentially be removed. They are fraudulent in one way or another. Understand that all review sites are very reluctant to remove reviews. They aren’t interested in a factual dispute between two parties. This is true even when facts are not in dispute. You don’t have to make amends like you did with Mark, but make sure they feel heard. People are reading their review and do not understand the circumstances surrounding it. In some cases, you can explain the situation through your response but with others it allows you to get your voice into the conversation and just acknowledge that you understand how the reviewer feels.
While replying to reviews may take a few minutes out of your day, it can vastly improve your appearance to potential customers. By taking the time to reply to reviews in a timely manner you show you care about your customers, value their opinions and concerns, and are willing to stand behind your business or product. Want to learn how we can help you with online reputation management? Contact us today!