Reviews have a significant impact on your business. Whether it’s a negative review that paints your business in poor light or a positive review that sings your praises, reviews matter to your customers—and should matter to you as a result.
But how should you respond to reviews? Should you use the same responses for every customer? How quickly should you respond?
In this article, we’re discussing how to respond to both positive and negative reviews. But before we take a look at how to respond, let’s cover a few fundamental principles first.
Three things to consider when responding to reviews
Because responding to reviews means putting yourself into direct contact with your customers, it’s important to handle every interaction with care and caution. Failing to think your responses through before using them could further escalate a situation or leave customers with a poor impression.
Here are a few things to consider before you respond to a customer.
1. Be professional and friendly
Reviews give businesses a unique opportunity to connect to their customers instantly. Therefore, it’s essential to always be professional and friendly with your responses. It’s also important to let customers know that you use all feedback to improve your processes and customer experience. Make sure every reply paints your business in a positive light—especially when you’re replying to a negative review.
Plus, customers are watching how you engage with other customers. In fact, 97% of customers who read online reviews also read the responses from the business. If you’re always professional and friendly, especially when addressing a problematic situation documented in a review, customers will notice.
It’s also essential to keep your tone of voice consistent across your review platforms and locations (if you have more than one) to ensure your reputation reflects one of uniformity.
2. Prioritize timeliness
These days, customers expect a prompt response to anything they post online—comments, questions, reviews, messages, etc. Making an effort to reply to customers promptly goes a long way in terms of customer experience.
Also, Google announced in 2018 that customers who leave reviews would receive a notification when a business responds to that review. This signaled to companies that it should be a top priority to respond to customers as quickly as possible.
(Source: Search Engine Land)
But why the urgency?
Replying as soon as possible does several things:
- It shows the customer you care about their experience or issue
- It helps the customer resolve their issue faster
- It eliminates any frustration as a result of waiting
- It gives you the opportunity to right a wrong
3. Always offer a solution where appropriate
If you’re dealing with a customer who reports having a bad experience, always, if possible, offer a concrete solution to make things right with them.
By offering a solution, you show customers that you care about their experience and want to make things better. This also shows other customers that you care about your overall customer experience.
The important thing here is to offer a solution that equates (or exceeds) to the issue. For example, offering a $5 gift card to a customer who says half of their order was missing probably won’t suffice. But offering them a gift card that equals the cost of the missing items plus a free dessert with their next order instead could be a more appropriate solution.
Your solutions should always be tailored to the customer issue at hand.
How to respond to negative reviews (in 4 steps)
Responding to negative reviews requires TLC. If not handled correctly, negative reviews can backfire and can cause more damage than resolve.
Here’s how to approach these tricky reviews.
1. Address the customer by name and thank them for leaving a review
A great way to instantly connect to your customers is to use their name in your response. This simple act personalizes the conversation and can start the exchange off on the right foot. A general, “Dear customer,” can come off as disingenuous.
Then, thanking the customer for leaving a review communicates that you care about their feedback and acknowledge their frustration with the experience. Your responses should be customer-specific and speak directly to the situation.
2. Apologize for the experience
You want your customers to enjoy their time with your business—whether you’re a restaurant or a mechanic.
Poor customer experiences aren’t fun for either party, so apologizing for that experience is a great place to start. Customers want to be heard and seen. This simple act can go a long way.
3. Acknowledge the customer’s feelings and take responsibility
Start by apologizing for their experience while emphasizing your intent to create a positive experience for all. This shows that you are willing to listen to criticism and make the appropriate changes.
Also, thanking customers for sharing their experience goes a long way. Customers don’t have to share, so receiving negative reviews allows you to see where you can improve.
4. Keep your responses public, but know when to take them offline
In most situations, it’s beneficial to leave the conversation in public. In these cases, you have the opportunity to show the reviewer and other customers that you are working on a solution.
For example, if a customer complains about long lines or a dirty bathroom, explaining how the situation will be resolved shows you care about making things better.
This exchange between a customer and a Subway restaurant is an excellent example of how keeping the conversation public can be beneficial.
(Source: Subway on Yelp)
The owner of this particular franchise addressed each of the customer’s concerns—from the music to the customer’s overall experience at that restaurant. The owner also explained that the restaurant is under new management and invited the customer to come back and give them another chance.
However, some situations may call for you to take the conversation offline to another, private channel such as email. Plus, a private chat allows you to get to the root of the customer issue and figure out how you can prevent a similar thing from happening in the future.
Take this review reply from Stella’s Lounge, for example:
(Source: Stella’s Lounge on Yelp)
Stella’s response is not only personalized and professional, but it’s made clear that the Guest Relations team is committed to making the situation right. Allowing the customer to provide more details about their experience is a great way to arrive at a solution and save the relationship.
How to respond to positive reviews (in 4 steps)
Do you really need to respond to positive reviews? What more could a business want than its customers singing its praises online?
The short answer is: Yes, you should respond to positive reviews.
Responding to positive reviews is beneficial for several reasons:
- It’s polite and professional
- It’s a great way to highlight or focus on the positive aspects of your business
- You can use positive reviews in your marketing to create a buzz around your business
- It shows customers that you genuinely care about their experience and are happy they had a positive experience with your business
Here’s a look at how to respond to positive reviews.
1. Thank the customer for leaving a review
It’s always smart to start each response by thanking the customer for taking the time to leave feedback—no matter if it’s positive or negative. This shows you appreciate their efforts and transparency.
2. Restate the positive
Typically in positive reviews, customers call out certain parts of their experience that were especially memorable. Include those positive elements in your response back to them and add context if possible or necessary.
For example, if a customer explains how much they love your homemade chips, add a note about how you cook them.
3. Share compliments with your team
If a customer calls out an individual team member, be sure to relay that compliment back to them. This not only lets customers know you share feedback with your team, so they know what they’ve done right and what needs to be improved, but it’s a great way to boost team morale.
For example, if a customer wrote something like, “Our server, David, was excellent. He was funny, and he went out of his way to make us feel like his only table, even though he was clearly busy,” you could reply with something like, “That’s great to hear! David is such a hard worker. We’ll relay the kind words to him.”
4. Invite the customer back
A great way to sign off a positive review is to mention how you can’t wait to see them back next time. This simple act can lead first-time customers to become repeat customers. It’s also a great way to end the review in a positive, friendly manner.
Here’s a great example from Barrio.
(Source: Barrio on Google)
Barrio’s response is simple, yet it’s personalized, thanks the customer, and signs off in a friendly way.
Prioritize responding to customer reviews
Responding to reviews doesn’t have to be a complicated mystery. Knowing what to say and how to say it is the key to maximizing the ROI of your responses.
Also, it’s crucial to respond to customers promptly. According to SOCi, 40% of customers expect a review response in 24 hours or less. Responding to reviews as quickly as possible not only shows customers you care about them and their experience with your business but that you’re open to feedback. Therefore, it’s essential to allocate time to responding to reviews and making the most of these opportunities to improve your overall customer experience.
Looking for help with your online review management? Contact us today, and our team will come up with a solution that’s right for you.