Every business receives reviews on sites like Yelp, Amazon, Angie’s List, Google +, Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau. Reviews even roll in on company Facebook pages. Sometimes comments are favorable, other times scathing.
If you choose to respond to an online review, you open yourself up to even more scrutiny. How you respond is important to the image of your company – it can define you. There’s etiquette you should respect.
Remember, internet trolls are just waiting under their cyber bridges to pounce at a moment’s notice. The last thing you want is for the situation to spiral out of control.
You can’t respond to everyone. You may think you need to respond to all online reviews and comments, or to none. Pick and choose which ones to spend time on. The goal is to have a positive impact. A study conducted by Cornell University, in relation to hotels, found that a 40% reply rate is enough to significantly increase positive impact.
Acknowledgement Can Mean Something
Even for basic reviews that don’t give you much to work with, a simple acknowledgement that you’re paying attention speaks volumes. Don’t scroll by and ignore all of them. Show that you care by at least clicking the <Like> button. Respond with a ‘Thank you’ or even an emoji. You don’t need to write anything rivaling War and Peace in a comment box, so long as the poster knows you’ve seen it.
The 4-Part Thanks
For the online reviews where you choose to respond in more detail, there’s a formula that’s proven to be effective. Remember, everyone is watching to see what you’re going to do. Also remember that once it’s on the internet, it’s effectively there forever. So, professional and polite engagement on the issues will make a difference.
- Give thanks: No one likes a response that seems ‘canned’ or unfeeling. Thank the person, use specific bits of their review in your response, and be conversational.
- SEO crafty: Everything you put out there has potential to help with your online search rankings. Sometimes it’s appropriate to use keywords, or the name of your business, or your location, or the category your business is in. Not doing so is a missed opportunity.
- More marketing: This is a public response, so take the time to provide insight about your business, your products/services, your goals, your values, and your care for clients.
- Invitation: Always end by asking/thanking the poster for continued support.
Positive Approach to the Negative
Negative reviews happen. To everyone sometimes. You cannot ignore them, ever.
- Show you are listening. Acknowledge their views. Never dismiss the review.
- A polite apology for the experience is totally in order.
- Focus on how the person may be feeling. Emotions are everything right now.
- Do not argue with the person or use insults.
- Keep it succinct. Be honest and square.
- If the customer’s review is out of line with the majority of customer experiences, it’s OK to say so – provided you keep it polite and state that you want to make things better.
- If it gets heated, offer to take the discussion offline.
It’s possible that you may salvage a customer relationship. Even if you don’t, you’re showing others out there that you’re real, you’re human, you’re making an effort, and you’re working toward trust.
That’s how you respond to online reviews.
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