Before the popularity of the internet, if your customer had something to say about your business, they would tell you, or maybe a few of their friends and family. Today that same customer can post a review online and influence tens, hundreds, and even thousands of buyers.

A recent survey suggests that 97% of people look online for a local business, and 85% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. What that means is that online reviews can (and do!) impact your bottom line. So, make yourself part of the conversation!

By responding to online reviews, you are demonstrating your commitment to your customers, and that you actually care about their opinions. You can also turn around negative experiences, and even show a negative experience from your perspective.

But, how do you respond to online reviews? It really depends on what they say.

Responding to positive reviews allows you to demonstrate that you care about your customers. It allows potential customers to “preview” what an interaction with you and your business might be like. To respond to positive reviews:

  1. Begin with a “thank you”
    • A simple “thank you“ goes a long way. Your customers did not have to take the time to talk about their positive experience, but they did! Let them know how much you appreciate it. There are many ways to say this:
      • Thank you so much!
      • Thank you for taking the time to post this!
      • We so appreciate the kind words!
      • We are so glad that you enjoyed the (product/service)!
      • We are thrilled that you love (products/service)!
  2. You can take a moment to add in some information about the product or service, but keep it simple. It will allow you to include information that might be of interest to other readers, but without turning a thank you into a sales pitch.
    • EX: Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. We are thrilled that you love our spinach dish! Our chef worked very hard to create something that was unique, but that still felt like “home cooking”. It sounds like that is just what she did. We can’t wait to see you again!
    • EX: We are thrilled to hear that you love your new roof! We pride ourselves in making home improvement stress-free (and even fun!?!) and are so glad that that was your experience. Thank you for being a customer!

Responding to negative reviews allows customers (and potential customers) to see that if there is a problem, you will address it. It also allows you to talk about a mistake that may have happened OR to demonstrate that what is in a review is untrue. Potential customers actually learn a lot about your business by how you handle unhappy customers. To respond to negative reviews:

  1. Take a breath.
    • A negative review can feel like a personal attack. You do not want to respond immediately, or in anger.
  2. Do some research.  Is this review true?
    • If it is, get as much information as you can before responding.
  3. Keep it simple!
    • If the review is NOT true, address that in a very polite way.
      • EX: We are sorry to hear about your bad experience, but we think that you have us confused with another restaurant. You mentioned that you had the burger, but Pizza Planet does not serve burgers. We hope that you will give us a try the next time you eat out. We really think you’ll love the pizza!
      • EX: Johnny, we researched this and do not have a customer by your name in our records. If we had completed work for you, we would definitely have that information. We would love to talk to you directly to learn more. Please call us at 585-555-5555.
    • If it is true:
      • Acknowledge the concern. Talk about what you will do, or what you have already done, to correct the issue.
        • EX: We are sorry to hear that you had a bad experience Thursday night. Due to illness, we were actually short three servers. The manager jumped in to help, but we know that wait times were long. This is definitely not typical of our restaurant. We would love to invite you to come back and enjoy a meal on us. Please call me directly at 585-555-5555 so that I can arrange that.
        • EX: We are so sorry about the paint job in your living room. It definitely does not meet our standards. We want to make this right and, as we discussed, we will repaint the room immediately, and refund half of the cost for the inconvenience. We know that you will love the end result, and apologize for any stress this has caused. We are not perfect, but if we make a mistake we will always make it right.
  4. If you need to, take it offline.
    • You can leave a simple response, and then work directly with the customer to resolve the issue.
      • EX: Johnny, we are sorry about your experience, and would like to talk with you about it. Please call 585-555-5555 anytime and ask for Cheryl.
  5. Don’t start (or continue) an argument.  That will not reflect well on the business.
    • There is no benefit to getting into a back and forth with a customer, or in name calling. If a customer continues to reply to your response in a negative way, close down that method of communication.
      • EX: Sam, I think that it makes the most sense to speak about your concerns directly. Please contact Cheryl anytime at 585-555-5555.
      • EX: Sam, if you would like to speak further about the issue, please contact Cheryl anytime at 585-555-5555. Otherwise, we wish you luck with the project.

One thing to always remember is that you are never responding just to the customer. Your response will be viewed by many potential customers. So take some time, be thoughtful, and engage. It really can help boost your business.

If you are too busy to respond, or don’t know where to start, we can help! Don’t know where to start with your online review? We can help! Canary Office can do everything from monitor your reviews online, to creating and posting responses—all without breaking your budget. Contact us today to learn how—877-222-6279, info@canaryoffice.com, or www.canaryoffice.com.