As a business owner, having customers talk about your business is the best (and cheapest) publicity you can get. Social media has made it possible for businesses to create communities around their products and services. These platforms, like Facebook, Yelp, and Google, allow customers to offer compliments and grievences directly to the business owner. How will these customers know that you’re listening, though, if you aren’t responding to their reviews? Keeping the lines of communication open in both ways is critical for maintaining that valuable online community.
You probably know that you should be responding to reviews, but you may be worried about how to address the negative ones. The internet is full of trolls who just want to complain about anything or try to get something for free, but there are also a lot of customers who would be more than willing to give your business another chance if they thought their experience might be better the second time.
Occasionally, there will be a review that requires special attention, if a serious accusation is made or if the reviewer has mistakenly given you a review intended for a different business. You’ll want to correct any misconceptions (ex. “I’m sorry that you didn’t like your chicken salad, but this is an architecture firm, not a restaurant”) or you’ll want to ask for more information about a complaint by providing an email address or phone number for the customer to contact.
However, most reviews will not require so much attention, and can be responded to with just a few sentences using the guide below.
Step 1: Thank them
Whether it’s a positive or negative review, you want to start by thanking the customer for leaving feedback at all. You want reviews because they help other people make the choice to try your business. It’s better to have dozens of diverse reviews than a single 5-star rating, or worse, no reviews at all. Reviews add credibility to your business and responding to them will show customers that you’re grateful for their patronage.
Step 2: Address their experience
Next, you want to discuss the experience they had with your business. This is your opportunity to show that you actually read their review and aren’t just posting a standard reply, so you want to be specific. If they mention a particular employee who did a good job, refer to that employee by name (ex. “I’m glad to hear that Jordan took such great care of you…”). If they’re leaving a critical review, you want to clearly identify whatever upset them and let them know what you plan to do about it (ex. “I’m sorry you had trouble finding a place to park. We will look into ways we can better inform our customers of parking options in the future”).
Step 3: Invite them back
If someone took the time to leave a great review for your business, then you want to make sure they feel valued. You can do this by inviting them back. You want to tailor this invite to the subject of each review (ex. “I’m glad to hear you liked the nachos, you’ll have to try our enchilada the next time you come”). The invitation is also important for customers who weren’t happy with their experience. Once you’ve acknowledged their grievance, they may be more inclined to give you another shot. You don’t have to beg for forgiveness or promise anything for free (ex. “I hope you’ll give us another try if you find yourself in need of an electrician again”).
Step 4: Sign your name
The final step is to write your name and position at the end of the response. You want customers to know that their concerns are being heard by someone who can actually make a difference. Even if you delegate the task of writing responses to an employee, you want your name at the end to show you will be taking responsibility and action if necessary.
As you write your responses, remember to keep them specific and positive. You want to show the reviewers that you value them and you want to encourage future customers to leave reviews too. If people know that their opinions are being seen by the business owner, they will be more likely to offer positive feedback going forward. Strengthening the relationship with your customers will help make your online community more active and valuable to your business.
If you’re looking to start responding to online reviews, TruBrand Interative’s team of experts is here to help. Check out our social media and SEO services to learn how we can help your business stand out from the crowd.