Managing your online reviews

We live in an era of peer reviews for everything from hotels, to builders to website providers. If you sell a service or product you are guaranteed to get online reviews. Reviews can be a great way to market your business if you use them well. Use the feedback to improve your services and products. Potential customer love reviews they are usually posted by customers who have already used the product and they can help them make their decision whether to buy from you.

However we all know the pain of a negative (and sometimes unfair) review. Here are my top tips to help you respond to negative online reviews.

  1. Respond to negative reviews only

Who does love getting 5 star reviews? Your customer has been so impressed by you, your product and the service that they went away and took the time to write a brilliant, positive review. Whooo hooo! These reviews make us feel warm, fuzzy and satisfied that we’re doing a great job. However, these reviews speak for themselves and you don’t need to constantly thank each reviewer, especially with the same, trite, generic response. The occasional response to a positive review is fine – thanking all your valued customers who have taken the time to write the review in the past while.

Bite the bullet and respond to the negative reviews (3 stars and below) with honesty and integrity and your past and potential customers will admire you for it.

  1. Don’t take the review personally and delay response by 24 hours

We all work hard to deliver a great experience for our customers and it’s a punch in the gut when someone is so incensed that they go away and write a horrible, negative review. Especially when the customer doesn’t give you a chance to address their complaint in person!

Read the review, take a deep breath and no matter what don’t respond immediately. Calm down, let the dust settle and write your response the next day. Never respond out of emotion. Some of the best responses have been written with humour, razor sharp wit and a full defence of the problem but never with emotion! It just makes you look petty. Remember you are writing the response for the whole world to see not just the complainant.

  1. Fully investigate the complaint and get all the facts

Read the review a couple of times so that you understand the customers complaint and the main issues of the review. Most reviews are anonymous, but you and your staff should be able to do some investigations to help you work out who the reviewer is and when they used your facilities.

Find out who served the customer. What happened, when did it happen? Make sure you know all the facts of the complaint before writing your response. Is the complaint valid and are you in the wrong? Is the customer being unfair and embellishing the truth? Once you have the full picture then you can address all the issues.

  1. When you are at fault address the complaint in the response there and then

If you at fault hold your hands up and be very clear that you did indeed fail to meet the customer expectations. Without getting into too much detail apologise, outline what you didn’t do and outline what you have done to try to resolve the issues. Don’t give a standard response asking the customer to contact you unless you intend to offer compensation. Be honest – its usually the best policy.

  1. Write a response that is an advert for your company, talk to the reader not the writer

Thank the reviewer for any positive comments before addressing the negative. Outline some of the other services or products you offer. Thank the reviewer for the feedback and outline what changes you will make to ensure the same problems don’t arise in the future. Keep the tone light, keep the review as brief and to the point and remember the person reading your response could be your next customer.