Your business will encounter all different kinds of reviews, and regardless of if they are negative, positive or somewhere in between, you should make it a point to respond to all of them.
How You Respond to Reviews Makes all the Difference
There’s just too much competition out there for your business to let its online reputation fall by the wayside. Growing your online reputation and maintaining it takes consistency, and one of the most important aspects of reputation management is responding to the people who take the time to write reviews for you.
Responding to reviews is a great way to engage your customers, and it’s important to always respond no matter what kind of review it is. Whether the reviewer is easy to please and thrilled with every aspect of your service or, no matter what you do, they’re just the type of reviewer that will never be happy, responding to the review shows that you care and helps you take control over the situation. Additionally, more and more consumers actually expect a business to respond to reviews, and quickly. According to a survey conducted by Review Trackers, more than 53 percent of customers expect a response to their review from a business within seven days, so don’t put off responding!
However, not all review responses are made equal, and if you don’t respond the correct way, you could make a bad situation even worse. That’s why, today, we’re going to break down the many different types of reviews and how you should respond to them.
The Many Different Kinds of Reviews and How to Respond to Them
Small businesses receive all kinds of reviews; here are the most common:
The First-Time Review
While the majority of people will write a review when asked, a lot of people still don’t write them on their own, and you might be surprised at how many people there are out there who simply haven’t written a review before. That means that the likelihood of your business getting a first-time review or two is fairly high. When someone who has never left a review before takes the time to write one for the first time, you can bet that it’s most likely because they feel strongly about the interaction, good or bad.
How should you respond?
Because the reviewer most likely feels incredibly strong, it’s of the utmost importance that you take your response seriously. Perception is reality, so even if you believe that the reviewer is making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s important to remember that, to them, that mountain might be as big as Everest. If you try to downplay their feelings, you’ll only make yourself look bad and make the situation worse.
If the first-time review is positive, make sure that you thank them for taking the time — for the first time ever — to write a review, thank them for their words and let them know how much you appreciate their feedback and their service.
“Dear Sam, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. It means so much to us that we are the first business you’ve written a review for, and we’re so happy that you were pleased with our services! We appreciate that you gave us a shot and look forward to continuing to earn your business in the future!”
If the first-time review is negative, take the feedback to heart, apologize and invite the customer to call you or email you to discuss the matter further.
“Dear Ashley, since you don’t normally take the time to write a review, we sincerely appreciate you giving us this feedback. Our goal is to exceed our customer’s expectations, and we apologize that our service wasn’t up to par last week. We would love the chance to make it right and talk about the issue further, and we invite you to call us or email us at…”
The Gushing Review
These are the best kinds of reviews — the ones written by evangelists for your brand who believe you can do no wrong. These are the reviews that you want to shout from the rooftops and display anywhere and everywhere you can. When customers leave reviews like these, you never have to say that you’re the best again, because they’ll say it for you! These reviews reinforce everything you’ve claimed about your business, and since it’s coming from a customer instead of from you, it’ll be more believable to all of your prospective customers.
How should you respond?
Some business owners don’t think it’s necessary to respond to positive reviews at all, but here at Top Rated Local®, we recognize the importance of responding to every single review — yes, even the positive ones. If you don’t, it’s a missed opportunity.
It’s important to keep in mind that everyone will read the review, not just the person you are responding to, and your response gives you a great opportunity to reinforce the positives in the review and subtly brag about your business.
“Dear Michael, we are so glad that you were so happy with our work! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review. It is because of reviews like that that we’ve been recognized as the number one plumber in Dayton, and we couldn’t have done it without customers like you! We can’t wait to work with you again soon!”
The So-So Review
Reviews that are so-so are typically three stars, and they’re usually positive for the most part with one or two areas for improvement. The simple fact is that, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to please everyone completely. Additionally, some people will never give a business a perfect, five-star review, even if they were thrilled with the service.
However, three-star reviews have their own unique challenges. If only the reviewer gave one more star, it would be positive, but if they had given you one fewer star, it could end up hurting your online reputation. That’s why you need to be careful when you respond.
How should you respond?
Start crafting your response by thanking the customer for taking the time to write the review, as well as for their feedback, and let them know that you’re using it to improve your service. In your response, you’ll want to accept and offer gratitude for any praise, and make sure that you acknowledge and apologize for any disappointments or negatives. Above all, though, make it a point to ensure that the customer feels heard.
“Thank you so much, Katie, for taking the time to leave us a review. We’re so happy that you loved the salmon filet and sweet potatoes; it’s one of our most popular dishes! Thank you for letting us know that the cleanliness of the bathroom wasn’t up to your standards. It is our goal to ensure a great experience all around, and we’ve doubled our bathroom checks to make sure that it does not happen again. Should you decide to dine with us again, we would love to buy you a dessert!”
The One-Star Review
Sometimes, the stars align in a way that makes everything go wrong, and sometimes, the service you provide is next-level but the customer is simply determined to be unhappy. The good news is that the mere fact that the customer took the time to write the review means that the situation is redeemable. Of course, some people just want to vent and get their revenge, but in most cases, a one-star review is like a life preserver — your one last chance at saving the customer from leaving you forever. And if you respond correctly, you just might save them.
How should you respond?
Before we get into what to say in response, make sure that you feel cool and calm before you set out to write it. Extremely negative reviews like this can often feel like personal attacks, and if you respond in-kind, you’ll only achieve making yourself look bad in front of a bunch of potential clients, as well as the very real possibility that you could lose that customer forever. So no matter how negative or inflammatory the review, take a few minutes to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts.
The first thing that you should do is apologize, even if you don’t believe that you or your team did anything wrong. Don’t try to shift the blame or sidestep it; just be accountable and approach the response with a willingness to learn and get better. If there were specific circumstances that led to the issue, be honest about them without making excuses.
Make the problem right. Again, even if you don’t believe that you are at fault, it’s important to be the bigger person and to correct any issues. And the bigger the problem is, the more you should offer the customer in order to make up for it.
Last but not least, when responding to negative reviews, it’s important not to get into an online sparring match. As we mentioned, some customers just want to vent and aren’t looking for a solution, and it’s not helpful to have a public back and forth with them. That’s why it’s important to make your response concise and to the point, and invite the customer to continue the conversation offline and in private.
“Dear Jenny, we’re so sorry that your experience failed to meet your expectations, and we want you to know that we are willing to do whatever we can to make it right. On Saturday night, we experienced an emergency with one of our service vans that prevented our technician from getting there on time. We want you to know that communication is very important to us, and we’ve done further training with our technician to ensure that, if something like this happens again, he makes staying in communication with our customers his number one priority. We’d love to offer you a discounted service for your future needs, and we’d also love to talk with you more about this one on one. Please feel free to give us a call or email us at…”
The Fake Review
Some businesses fight dirty and are willing to take an underhanded approach to get ahead. At some point or another, you’ll probably come across a fake review. Luckily, fake reviews are generally easy to spot because they often highlight a product or service you don’t offer, or you might not have a record of ever having worked with that person before. In some cases, these kinds of reviews might be written by a competitor or an ex-employee with a grudge.
When you see a review that you think is fake, do a little research. If you can learn a little more about the person who wrote the review, you may be able to determine where the review is coming from and what their motivation is. But regardless of who wrote the review — just like with any other type of review — the most important thing is how you respond to it.
How should you respond?
You should never try to out a fake review in public directly. However, you can point out that you don’t have a record of working with that individual or have any knowledge of the issue they are referring to if that is the case. Like with negative reviews, you’ll want to avoid a public argument if at all possible, so invite the customer to call or email you to discuss the matter on a more personal level.
There’s nothing more infuriating than a fake review, but if you sink to their level, you’ll make yourself look worse in the end. If necessary, take a few days to gather your thoughts before you respond to the review, or write your response and wait 24 hours and read it over once more before you publish it.
If you really and truly believe that the review was left by a competitor or someone who has never been a customer of yours, there’s a slight chance that you could get the review taken down if you report it.
“Hello Jim, we apologize, but we don’t seem to have a record of working with you. We apologize that your experience was negative, and we’d love to make it right. Please contact us by email or phone to allow us to address the issue one on one.”
Take back your online reputation with the help of Top Rated Local®.
The moral to the story is that, while you can’t control what your customers say about you in reviews, you can control how you respond to them. Furthermore, it’s how you respond in each one of these cases that truly makes the biggest difference.
If you’re ready to take control of your online reputation and manage it like a pro, the first step you should take is to claim your Top Rated Local listing. With Top Rated Local, you’ll get real-time notifications when you receive reviews, monthly updates on your overall reputation, prioritized ranking on Google and a badge that you can display easily that tells the world that you are a Top Rated Local business in your area.