Word of mouth will always be king when it comes to getting new business, and reviews are much the same. In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation! It should go without saying that it’s valuable to pay attention to your online reviews, but guidelines on how to respond as a business owner can get a little blurry. Here are a few of our best practices to ensure you represent your business professionally:
Ask and You Shall Receive
Before you have to worry about responding to reviews, you’ll need to have some on your review site listings! Many business owners lament only receiving negative reviews, citing that people only write them “when something goes wrong.” Sometimes all it takes is asking your most loyal customers to chime in with feedback. Approach your regulars and let them know you’d appreciate them leaving you a review on Yelp, Google, or Facebook since they’re such big fans. Most are touched to be recognized as a regular and are happy to offer their recommendation.
Positive reviews are a breeze to respond to — keep it short, sweet, and just focus on saying thanks for their business! Calling out a specific detail from the review (like “hope you join us again for a slice of that Hawaiian you enjoyed so much!”) can give it an extra punch of personal attention.
Respond Publicly, Promptly… But Not Emotionally
When responding to reviews on Yelp, you have the option to leave a public response or to reply privately. Platforms like Google or Facebook only offer the option to respond publicly. Public responses are the way to go — the most inflammatory review can result in a positive brand experience if a potential customer sees you addressing customer feedback in an open, professional way.
The best time frame for responses is within a few days of them going live, although sometimes it’s helpful to step back from a negative review and collect your thoughts before responding. Being objective, offering clarifying statements, and keeping your response light and impersonal will show that you appreciate customer feedback.
Take It Offline
Sometimes a response merits action off the page — a free meal, a phone call, etc. Don’t be afraid to move the conversation beyond the confines of a simple response; sometimes the most effective response is merely to acknowledge that something was off and that you’d like to get more context about the experience in a private message. Doing so can show that you are tuned in to making the customer’s next experience a better one while handling the situation in a controlled environment.