Replying to Reviews
There are three ways to reply to reviews. We're going to cover the worst to the best way. I encourage you to read all as I explain why the bad ones are awful and hurting your business growth.
Types of reviews
One of the best things a customer can do is leave you a review. They can leave you a star-only review where they choose between one and five stars. Some review systems only allow a recommend/not-recommended option compared to a starred review. We are going off people using the star review process, which is the most common. They can leave a starred review with a comment.
Whether a person leaves just a starred review or a rating and a comment, think of what they've just done for you. They have taken time out of their day to provide you with a review and give your business some "social proof." This social proof will not only be a silent word of mouth that people will see but one that has an excellent potential of adding to your overall revenue.
What if it's a bad review?
Yes, we want our customers to talk to us if they have a negative experience to fix it rather than leave a negative review. Not every customer is that way. Old-school manners don't always exist. People are also afraid of confrontation in today's society. I know you would never call out a customer for being wrong (even if they are) as you have all the proper manners. You would make the situation right and never have a negative review.
I want a perfect score!
Are you sure you do? Why? Aren't you human? We all have off days. You should always shoot for a 5-star review all the time. That is very unlikely to happen. If you are always shooting for the best, you will end up between 4-5 stars. If I must choose between a 5-star and a 4.6 star, I will almost always choose the 4.6-star business. The reason is I have seen too many businesses buy reviews (bad, very bad!!!!), or they don't have a lot of reviews. Imagine having 200+ reviews and all being 5-stars. You will be questioning the legitimacy of the reviews as you know that the odds of that are near impossible.
Review Response: Doing Nothing (Worst)
Yes, doing nothing is a response. It says you don't care. A person has left a review, and you don't respond to it. You do this as it's positive, and you don't feel a reason to reply.
Review Response: Thumbs Up
You've clicked the thumbs up or the review site equivalent and are saying, "Yes, I saw you left a review. Thanks!" You are doing the absolute minimum. You are not thanking them for taking the time out of their day. How would you feel if you thanked someone for doing whatever it is they did, and you received only a thumbs-up response. You would feel acknowledged but lacking inside.
They left me a comment and a 4-star review!
For the next two, we will use the same review scenario for both as both responses are good. One is just better than the other.
You receive a 4-star review with "They came out, they did everything they promised, left my business cleaner than it was when they left, and truly exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend this company and will use them again."
First, that is an awesome review. You might be equally thinking like WTF. You said we did everything right, exceeded your expectations, and we only rate a 4??? You think that is so unfair. You would be right for thinking that when I wrote it, I would've thought it would rank a 5-star review. We don't know our customers as well as we think we do. Many might save that 5-star for something amazing (like solving world hunger, solving homelessness, etc.) We don't know what is going on in their head and a 4-star review is still an amazing review!
Review Response: Short Story (Great)
We respond with the thumbs up so that we know we've read it but also add a comment saying, "Thanks, Brenda! We can say we loved coming out and painting your house. We look forward to helping you with your other projects this coming year."
Review Response: Complete Response with SEO in Mind (Best)
We respond again with the thumbs up so know we have read it and change our reply saying, "Thanks, Brenda! Your house is truly amazing in Long Beach, Indiana, with breathtaking views. As we painted the interior of your home, we were completely amazed at how the colors we picked out for you completely changed the feel of your kitchen, dining room, and sunroom. We are excited to hear more about how your family and guests do when we do the rest of your projects you want to be done in the summer."
The difference between the two responses
Both responses are good. The second review response helps stoke the customer's ego, remember you, and does a few other things that will benefit your business. It says:
- We are looking forward to the next project.
- You are adding SEO value by mentioning essential items you did.
- You're stoking their ego when they get the response back may make them change their 4-star to a 5-star.
- As complimentary as you were, they will surely remember your name and be great word-of-mouth to their friends and family.
Now let's do a negative review!
You receive a one-star review and a response that "this was the worst meal of my life."
That was a harsh review!
Ah, the keyboard warrior. We all will face them, and it will make us want to cry. These reviews can be short or extremely long. How you respond will determine the power of the review. Yes, the person should've confronted you and allowed you to correct it. Some people thrive off of leaving reviews like this as they feel important.
We see it entirely differently and love these reviews. We don't want to receive any, but one or two can help your business more than a positive one.
Let's take a look at a couple of reviews.
Response #1 - Good
Here is how we would reply, saying, "John, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We always strive to provide the best-tasting food, and our 200+ reviews from other customers show we do a great job. I am not sure what happened, but I hope you will pick up the phone so we can talk and we can make it right for you."
Response #2 - Better
Reply saying, "John, we see you had two steak dinners. One cooked medium and the other well done. As the owner, I want to personally apologize if your steak was too well done for your taste. I would love for you to call the restaurant directly and ask for me, Tony, and I to make it right. I would love to know more details about your experience. I invite you and who you had with you to come back."
This is a better response as you've taken the time to dig into the complaint, apologized, and asked them to talk to you offline (off the internet) to go over all the details.
When replying do these things
Positive and negative reviews deserve the same amount of attention to detail. You need to do the following for all of your reviews:
Read the review carefully taking note of the following:
- The date of the problem.
- The tone – is the writer angry, upset, frustrated or something else?
- Do you think you can make it right?
- The person's name and any staff that were part of the issue.
- Research to make certain the information is accurate (even positive reviews!)
- For negative reviews, always apologize and have empathy for your customer
- "I am so sorry we messed up."
- "I am so sorry you feel that way."
- Reiterate and solve their problem
- Never get personal or attacking. Yes, the customer may deserve it, but it will always be there once written. Think of your reputation as a business.
- Positive reviews:
- Thank them and add as much valuable information as possible
Your customers leaving reviews is critical to your business and the word of mouth that it can generate. Take each one as the most important review you have ever received. You don't know which review response will convert a potential customer into a customer.