How To Respond To Online Reviews

Online reviews, good or bad are all part of being online. Never before has the individual had so much media power. Anyone can set up a social media account or simply find a business online and leave a review and in some cases, despite your best customer service efforts, these reviews are bad.

It is now the norm that when looking for a service, product or some entertainment such as a place to eat or a place to stay we go online to see what is on offer but we may also look at the reviews a business has.

If a business has good reviews well that is great but if they have bad reviews that obviously reflects badly on the business and may turn customers away. However, the good news is, consumers are now also looking at the businesses’ replies to the reviews and these can often negate a bad review in a consumer’s mind.

Responding to bad reviews.

Firstly take a big breath and look at the review calmly and logically. In most cases the review is not fully justified so don’t beat yourself up about it. In some cases a bad review can be left by someone you have not even dealt with and even if you have we all know there are two sides to every story.

Of course, in reality you know it could impact on your business, so you do need to do something about it.

Rule number 1 you must reply to a bad review.

As mentioned above, if people see you have taken the time to reply to a reviewer they will see you are proactive. You have acknowledged the problem and offered a solution.

Rule number 2 do not engage the reviewer online.

When you reply to a review do not try to solve the problem online as not only can your comments be misunderstood but the reviewer may just keep adding more and more inflammatory comments making the situation worse.

So what do you say.

If it is someone you have no record of dealing with then say so with a phrase such as: I am sorry, but we have no record of you as a customer, however, if you wish to call us on (insert phone number) and ask to speak to (insert name) we would be more than happy to discuss the matter further.

Chances are they are unlikely to get in touch; however, they may decide to continue the discussion online so best to ignore them.

If you feel it is a genuine complaint then it is suggested you employ the following techniques:

  • Address the reviewer by name
  • Include a form of apology such as ‘sorry’
  • Refer to the nature of the complaint
  • Offer to engage with them off line
  • Most importantly keep it short.

So a simple: I am sorry (insert name) you are unhappy with (insert nature of complaint such as ‘the servicing of your car’). We are always striving to improve our customer service and would be more than happy to discuss this matter further. Please call us on (insert phone number) and ask to speak with (insert name) and we will endeavour to set things right.

Important tip; don’t use your business name in the bad review reply as you don’t want this review showing up in search results.

Can you get rid of bad reviews?

Well yes and no. You can report bad reviews to social media platforms or flag them with Google, however, they will not intervene just because you disagree with a review. If a review uses inappropriate, offensive language that is another matter and the online platform will take it seriously and take it down. All online platforms have review policies so reading these would be your first course of action.

There are cases where businesses, and especially some multi nationals, have taken reviewers to court over defamatory reviews but that is not an option for most small businesses.

Should you reply to good reviews?

Yes you should.

It is not to dissimilar to responding to bad reviews except of course the sentiment is reversed.

  • Address the reviewer by name
  • Thank them for their review
  • Include the name of your business. Good for SEO.
  • Refer to the nature of the positive review which would include some key words related to your business. Good for SEO
  • You could offer them something in return but it is not necessary unless you have a special offer running.
  • Keep it relatively short. Don’t get too carried away as the response should be genuine and not just an opportunity for you to spruik your business.

An example: Thank you (insert name) for your comments about (insert business name) and our award winning (insert service: ‘car serving department’). We are offering (insert special offer: ‘a free loan car with every service in the month of January’). We look forward to seeing you next time.

Monitor you reviews

Most importantly you need to monitor your reviews or if you employ a digital marketing agency ask the to monitor them.

Online reviews are a fact of business life even if you are not involved in online marketing but more so if you are because the more you put your business online the more attention you will attract.

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