The last time you booked accommodations online, did you read the reviews?
If you are a stranger in a community and planning to dine out, when you call up the restaurants in your area, do you base your choice on the comments past customers have left online about it?
If you do, you are not alone.
Even more importantly, in both instances if a friend or family member cited a preference for one of the places you were considering staying or eating, would that push your decision to favor that establishment?
Likely it would.
That is why your on-line and word-of-mouth referrals are so vital in today’s business climate.
We have touched on this subject before and the importance of asking for good reviews and references. However, today we will help you determine how you should respond as a business to both good and bad reviews, and how to make the best use of them.
Reviews remain key drivers of business to you
Reviews are vital in an age when personal recommendations remain the number one driver of decisions made by consumers to purchase one service or product over another.
A RewardStream study conducted several years ago was the first to identify the importance of personal recommendations to businesses. They noted consumers consult reviews and trusted friends and what they learn impacts them at every stage of the purchase cycle in everything from vacation travel to subscription entertainment to retail categories such as apparel and personal products.
Both traditional and online advertising are important, of course, but they fall second in line to these personal votes of support.
For many small businesses across North America, this is a happy state of affairs since they build strong personal relationships with their customers.
On your website you may have a way for consumers to leave their recommendations as well, and your Facebook page comments are another way people tell others what they really think of your business. Knowing how to handle both praise and criticism is important in maintaining your brand’s reputation.
Handling good reviews
Good reviews give you a little lift at the start of a business day.
However, when the customer says something nice, we all have a tendency to just let it go at that. After all, the review speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Not really. As a business owner you need to respond to a good review. There are a number of reasons for this, starting with that it is always polite to say thank-you to a compliment.
But there are other reasons. Answering a good review is a little window to provide a little extra light marketing to reinforce what the reader has already noted.
For example, if a customer mentions a particular product that they purchased from you, in addition to saying thank-you, you might add that your business is proud to offer that product especially because it is locally produced (if that is so).
If the review is about extraordinary service, say thank-you and credit your amazing team, or note that your company’s small size and direct approach allows you to respond with great flexibility to challenges such as the one you helped the client overcome.
Remember that the response will not just be read only by the person who posted the review, but by the general public as well. If you offer a good little fact or praise someone on your team or in the community, there is a good chance at least one other person will respond and that keeps a positive conversation going.
When you answer a good review comment right away, you also improve the search engine optimization (SEO) ranking of the review. If you have your corporate name listed in Google Alerts, you will be notified whenever any notice of your company comes up on line as well, so you can respond if the review is not just on your website, but if it appears on something like Yelp or Facebook.
Make sure in your response to find a subtle way to use your company name again.
You can say something like:
“The team here at XYZ Company got a chuckle when you mentioned how pleasant our tour director Susan is. Working with her is a real joy too since that personality holds, rain or shine.”
If they praise your service delivery or product quality, use your response as another way to get your company name associated with something positive. Say something like:
“Our team at XYZ Company was thrilled with your kind words. We are dedicated to keeping up this level of service!”
You can even throw in a little extra promotion into the works in your responses.
If a staff member is praised, for example, you could respond with:
“Did you know that Kathy who helped you finish that project in record time is also a marathon runner who placed in the top 25 at the Boston Marathon? We think that helps her focus on pulling off what seems impossible in record time. Thanks for mentioning her, and thanks for being on our team, Kathy!”
What to do when the review is bad
As nice as the good reviews can be, the downside is how undermining and critical the poor reviews are and how they disrupt your business.
When social media first gained popularity, many corporations adopted misguided policies that suggested the best way to deal with a negative review was to ignore it. The theory was that responding might just make the matter worse.
But just as finger cut can bleed a lot or a little depending on how quickly you apply the first aid, so can a bad review hurt a little or a lot, depending on how quickly you address it.
Always be conscious that your response is going to be read by more than the person complaining. The general public can see your response, so govern yourself accordingly.
You just have one way to curtail the impact of the bad review and that is to respond quickly and courteously, without bad-mouthing the critic in any way.
A very simple but effective opening line is to simply say that you are sorry that the reviewer had a bad experience.
Quickly reassure everyone that what happened is not the norm. Say something like: “We are normally dedicated to fast service with great attention to detail, and we are sorry for missing this goal with you.
Then get the conversation off line as fast as possible by telling the reviewer that you are the owner or head of the company and offer your direct phone number or email to discuss it further.
This is not the time to repeat your company name by saying “the team at XYC Company regrets.” Deliberately leave out your corporate name.
Also refrain from asking the reviewer to provide more details in that venue. Get them into your personal email as quickly as possible.
Under no circumstances should you contradict or argue with the consumer about their interpretation of what happened. This will merely lead to a more heated response from them.
Keep your answer short and sweet. Apologize for their bad experience and offer your direct contact information to get them out of the public eye quickly.
Generally speaking, readers will accept that if a customer is unhappy, you are willing to give them attention. That is all they really need to know at that point.
Once you have solved the issue, you may be able to ask the unhappy client if they will send a new review saying that they are pleased at how the matter was handled. That is a matter you will have to judge at the time given the circumstances of the complaint.
Thank you for reading this post. Until next time take good care.
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