According to BrightLocal, a prominent SEO platform, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local business. Considering consumers often treat online reviews with the same trust as personal recommendations, a small business’s approach to customer reviews plays a significant role in getting new customers.
Sometimes mistakes happen, and other times you get customers who simply can’t be pleased, but it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with negative reviews. Whether these are well-deserved or unreasonable, they can impact your reputation online.
It’s understandable to want to shy away from responding. It’s feels like confrontation, and there are horror stories of businesses who go up in flames after engaging with an angry customer online.
The trick lies in how you respond.
Not only can responding to negative reviews help you address oversights or failures in the business, but your willingness to improve your customers’ experience will also improve your reputation. For the customer who gave you the negative review—and all the potential customers who read the review and your response long into the future.
Another, perhaps less obvious, reason that responding to reviews can help your business is that it can deter other customers from leaving negative reviews. People like to avoid confrontation. Online review platforms can often feel like a powerful, untouchable space. Customers can say whatever they want without follow up. But if they can see that the business actively responds to every reviews—positive or negative—then some people who had intended to leave a trivial negative review will be less inclined to do so.
So, how do you respond?
There are some helpful templates online to assist small businesses with their responses. Take a look at this guide by HubSpot and this list of examples and templates by Review Tracker.
Don’t respond while worked up.
Take a day to let your emotions settle. Writing back while defensive or upset is not going to result in a helpful exchange.
Use their name.
Unless the negative review has been left anonymously, start your response by addressing the customer by name. This makes the communication personal and shows that you’re paying attention.
Start by thanking them.
This will set the tone for your response. You’re not upset or irrational—you’re thanking them for sharing their feedback.
Apologise for their experience.
One line is all you need here (but you do need it). Don’t go overboard with apologies, as it can come across as unprofessional. Instead, convey that you’re sorry that their experience with your product or service didn’t meet their expectations. You could add that it was an uncommon occurrence and that you’ll do better.
Provide the next steps.
Encourage them to reach out to your team with any additional comments, concerns, or suggestions. Provide contact details (and be sure your team responds in a timely manner if the customer does make contact).
Convey your desire to resolve the issue.
End your short response on a positive, helpful note. State that you’re keen to make things right and hope they give you another chance.
Customer reviews are an interesting part of doing business online. If you’re interested in what studies show about customer behaviour surrounding online reviews, check out this Harvard Business Review article that states replying to customer reviews results in better ratings.
If you’d like help improving the number of reviews customers leave for your business, book in for mentoring with our Digital Solutions business experts.