How To Properly Respond To Reviews
The first thing to do in this situation is breathe. Take a day and think about something else. Do not pay any attention to some small time ‘blogger’. Do not respond to the review right away. The next day, when you wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed, read the review again with a cool head. Then review the terms and conditions of the review page it was left on. In this case, let’s say that it does not violate any of the terms.
At this point it's time to respond to the review.
Now you might be thinking, “Todd why would I even want to pay attention to this jerk?” This part I want you to highlight. Remember, every time you get a three star review or below, respond. Heck if you're not responding to the 4 and 5 stars that's a totally different conversation.
The public response to a negative review is not for the person who left the negative review. The public review response is for the next person who is researching your business to see how you handled the negative experience. My Father always said, “Kill them with Kindness.” He’s right.
I truly believe that this strategy always works in your favor. I have seen it with my own eyes. If there is one thing you take away from this, its that getting your emotions involved with a review will do nothing to help your business.
Just like any social media page, a review page reacts the same way. The more you utilize, and engage on the page the higher it appears in recommendations to people looking for information. For that reason alone you should be engaging daily. We typically respond to reviews within 48 hours. This gives us some time to really get to know the person so the response is more intimate and personal, instead of cut and paste nonsense.
Do not just respond “Thanks“, or the same response over and over again. That comes off lazy, impersonal, and is almost as bad as not responding at all; sometimes even worse. You always - and I mean always - want to make sure that you add some marketing or keywords relevant to your business in a positive review response.
For example if the reviewer says, “Wow the crab cake was so good, I will definitely be back.” You should mention in your response that, “If you liked the crab cake, you should try the prime rib on Tuesdays.”
Other reviewers see this, as well as other directory pages and search engines, placing you into the keyword phrases searched near your business. However, it also helps in that customer returning by themselves or with friends based on your response and recommendation.
Positive reviews also provide great ways to express gratitude on social media. Not only does it show that you welcome the feedback, but it also shows you care about your customers’ experience. This also helps in social proofing your business.
Remember, if a customer is willing to spend money with you, or your business, and take the time to say great things the least you can do is respond to them with some kind words. You wouldn't ignore them or not respond to them if they said it in person, would you? Also this shows people who would potentially leave a negative review you are active on these pages. Based on that they are more likely to direct message you, instead of just leaving a review.
Side Note: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, give someone something for free if they had a negative experience, or publicly respond and promise that. You will create a snowball effect with other potential reviewers.
So, let's talk about the good stuff…
Those juicy, annoying, negative reviews. We’ve all been there. Your stomach drops, you become anxious, angry, and emotional. Now, what do you do? Well, you could ignore it, not respond to it, leave it there, and forget about it.
However, let's step out of the owners chair for a second. If you were going to make a purchase - let’s say a used car - you’ve found the one you want. Now you’ve done a bit more research on the dealer, as many people do before making a purchase of that magnitude.
Where did you look?
When you looked at their reviews on Google, Facebook, and maybe Cars.com you noticed quite a few negative reviews with no response, not even an apology. What is your first impression of this business, and how they take care of their customers?
You don't need to tell me. I already know your impression. It's not very good. When its our own business, that inherent emotion changes our perspective on opinions of everyone around us; that includes customers, employees, and the entire surrounding community. To us, our business is the best, however we can't all be five stars; right?
Now that you have your perspective is right, let's work on what you should do before you respond.
If a review appears on your page that's three stars or below you need to actually read it. If the review violates the terms and conditions of the review page you should enter into the flagging process. All of these review pages have terms and conditions, so be sure to read them and understand your rights.
I know you’re not going to read the reviews. However, if you’re not going to, then you should have your internal person handling this, or hire an agency that specializes in reputation management to fulfill it. Want to learn more? Check out some of my other blogs, podcasts, or social media posts.