User directory services such as Yelp and Google reviews have been a blessing and a curse for businesses of all sizes. On one hand, most reviewers leave reasonable ratings and reviews based on their experiences. On the other hand, there are always going to be individuals who leave scathing reviews whether or not they are deserved. This leaves business owners and managers in the uncomfortable position of needing to respond to negative reviews on a public forum.
We prefer to look at negative reviews as an opportunity to win over disgruntled consumers while also sending a message to the public overall. The customer may not always be right, but in todays’ world, they are always going to be heard.
The Importance of Online Reviews for Businesses
In a perfect world, every one of your customers would have a memorable and positive experience working with your company. This is an unachievable goal even for the most well-liked companies on earth. The fact remains that online reviews are extremely important when it comes to brand perception. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Consumers tend to trust the opinions of their peers over critics and certainly more so than advertising materials. This is particularly true of common purchases rather than specialized items.
- Reviews may actually boost your SEO and brand position. Search engines like Google and social media platforms like Facebook tend to favor businesses which allow reviews.
- Online reviews show a sense of transparency and honesty. As we will get into in the sections below, online reviews are not only a way to allow consumers to voice your opinions, but a way for your brand to show that you listen and value customer feedback.
- Online reviews increase user engagement, lower bounce rate, and generally keep eyes on your brand for longer.
How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews
If Mother Teresa was on Yelp, she’d probably still get bad reviews. This is the world we live in, and there is no use fighting it. While each negative review may come with its own unique flavor, here are some high level tips for businesses to use when responding to negative online reviews:
- Respond to as many negative reviews as possible. Letting negative reviews fester is just about the worst thing any brand or business can do. We also recommend responding to positive and mixed reviews as well. More on that below.
- Always address the customer directly. In the majority of online reviews, the customer’s name will be accessible. Rather than address them generically, use their name to establish a connection.
- Acknowledge their complaint. Whether or not they are complaining that service was late or that the moon isn’t made out of cheese, always make it clear that you have heard what they have to say.
- Apologize and mend the relationship. Apologizing does not imply guilt. Apologizing can be as simple as “I’m sorry you had a bad experience” and moving on. If the customer is making reasonable complaints, respond appropriately with potential compensation/other actions.
- Always remain sincere. Sarcasm and one-upmanship are not going to win you any customers in the long run.
- Provide contact information or ask to speak with the customer offline. Last but not least, provide a concrete way to help this customer in the future. Provide contact information or a finite solution.
Why Businesses Should Respond to All Types of Reviews
Negative reviews may get most of the press (we are guilty of this as well), but all forms of online reviews are valuable to brands. All direct customer interactions are valuable from a feedback and an exposure perspective. This also shows that your company values its loyal customers just as much as it fears losing business to disgruntled clientele.
Unlike negative reviews, positive reviews will generally not fixate on a problem to be addressed. Instead of going through a checklist like we have provided above, simply thank the reviewer and show your appreciation for their business. Responses to positive reviews should be kept short and to the point with the aim of showing authentic appreciation without overdoing it.
Responses to middle of the road reviews can be trickier. We recommend combining the methods outlined above into a single response. For example, a response might start by addressing the customer by name and showing appreciation for their business. It might then acknowledge the positives in their review before showing an understanding of whatever issues may have arisen. The response could end by extending contact information to correct the problem or by simply re-affirming your appreciation for their feedback and their patronage.
Clock Tower Insight Helps Companies with Customer Experience Management & More
At Clock Tower Insight, we turn data into business solutions. By maximizing brand positioning, CX management, moments of influence, and more, we help build our clients brands in the short and long term. Clock Tower Insight believes that happy customers equal a happy business. We work closely with clients to tailor their brand from top to bottom in order to maximize positive image, exposure, and sales.
To learn more about how we may be able to help your business grow, read about our 15 plus years of focused experience working with brands such as Starbucks, Kraft, McDonald’s, and much more.