You already know the importance of online reviews (and if you don’t, check out our last blog post!), but you also know that opening yourself up to the opinions of the internet means opening yourself up to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Bad reviews are an ever-present threat, and really great reviews can be hard to come by, but it’s how you respond to them (no matter what the rating) that determines the fate of your business. Here’s a few tips to help you craft the perfect response, each and every time, and make the most of your reviews:
Experts recommended responding to every single review you receive — not just the bad ones. Neglecting to respond to a compliment from a customer is equivalent to leaving them hanging as they come in for a high-five. And that’s just plain mean. A simple “Thank you for the kind words!” will do, but a personalized note that addresses the original review and genuinely expresses your appreciation will go even further.
-Respond publicly and thank them for their feedback; if possible, reinforce their positive sentiments.
-Share the review both internally and externally! A recent survey conducted by WOMO found that sharing positive reviews not only makes the sales process easier, but improves staff morale.
-Reward your customers for their kind words, but do so privately. Public rewards can be misinterpreted as bribes, but private “thanks yous” serve as an incentive for that customer to use your business again — and encourage others to do the same.
Every business, no matter how successful, is subject to receive a bad review every now and then — but studies show that even bad reviews can be beneficial for your business. That is … as long as you respond correctly. Act rashly and you could dissuade future customers from giving you a second chance (or a chance at all) — but respond politely and your prospective clients will be more likely to discount the bad review than they are your business. On top of that, prospects are more likely to trust a business with a bad review or two — those bad reviews prove that the company is real (whereas 27 five-star reviews can seem a little contrived).
-Step away from the situation when you’re feeling heated and come back to it with a cooler head. Responding out of anger won’t do you any good.
-Keep in mind that your critics are human beings, just like you.
-Own up to your mistakes and offer an incentive to make things right — if you can’t (or don’t want to) do that, at least thank them for their feedback.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! At least, that’s what San Francisco’s Botto Bistro did when they couldn’t escape their Yelp-induced negative reviews. They’re on a mission to earn the title of “worst Yelp rating in the Bay Area,” and they’re doing it by offering their customers up to 50 percent off any pizza in return for a 1-star review. “I think this is the best business move I have made in years,” says owner David Cerretini, who has seen a major surge in profits since the implementation of the “promotion.”
-Embrace your bad reviews! Not only are they a learning tool for your business, but when handled correctly, they can actually show your prospective clients how far you’re willing to go to provide excellent customer service.
-Have a good sense of humor. As long as you’re not patronizing or condescending, invoking your funny bone will only remind your clients that you’re human too — and a likeable one at that.
How do you deal with online reviews? Let us know in the comments below!