So you have a great product, or service, or specialty; how can you prove it to those who haven’t yet experienced your talent? Online reviews are one of the ways you can best represent your service without resorting to sales-y text on your website or other online platforms. Business owners that are learning more about online marketing understand the importance of maintaining these online reviews to make sure that your brand is represented in a good light.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Most online review platforms allows for customers to leave a star rating as well as some comments about their experience with your business. Despite your best efforts, it’s inevitable that at some point in your business’ history, you will receive a bad review. The review may be outdated, detailing an experience with a service or representative who is no longer involved with your company, or it may be misplaced, describing a different company altogether. Or you may have actually just delivered a poor experience due to circumstances out of your control. It’s okay to have negative reviews, as long as all the reviews about you online aren’t negative. You should have a healthy variety. In fact, we’d even recommend having a few negative reviews; for one thing, Google recognizes businesses that don’t have all perfect scores as more valid and relevant. But another good thing about negative reviews is that they show you’re human, and you aren’t soliciting reviews from only friends and family.
Responding to Reviews
While you can’t control what customers are saying about your product or service, you can definitely control what you say to them. When a past customer or follower reviews your services positively, thank them for the praise! Most people only feel inclined to go out of their way to leave a review when they have something bad to say, so the fact that they went to the trouble to recommend your business is a huge compliment. Respond to them on the review site, and then ask if you can feature their review on your website.
Unfortunately, not all reviews will be 5 star recommendations. As mentioned before, these reviews could come about for a variety of reasons, but there are some benefits from keeping them on your page. They do legitimize your business and make the positive reviews shine that much more brightly. They also give you the opportunity to respond to the customer and show other visitors to that review page that you care about your customers and you pay attention to your online presence.
When responding to these negative reviews, the first thing you should remember is that some people aren’t worth responding to. In this day and age, where the internet offers a screen between harshly typed words and the people they are intended for, you should be aware of trolls and haters that can never receive your apologies or appeals to remove their review. The important thing is to find the reviews that you can respond to that have relevance to your business now and will offer you the chance to rectify any wrongdoing or to clear up a misunderstanding.
Our Template for Responding to Poor Reviews
At Kite Media, we coach our clients in review maintenance using a template similar to the following:
- First, thank the reviewer for their post. Regardless of what they said, at least people are talking about your business online and giving you information to help you improve things!
- Secondly, reaffirm any values of your business that were drawn into question. If they complained about the wait time, explain that your services sometimes take longer than expected because you are committed to perfection. If they had a bad experience with one of your employees, commit to addressing the situation with your staff to continually improve customer service practices.
- If you don’t believe you were at fault, then don’t apologize. As soon as you say sorry, whether you committed the offense or not, you open yourself up to potential legal issues if the offense was bad enough that the customer might press charges.
- Stay sympathetic. Clearly they had a poor enough situation with your business that they felt the need to bring it to your attention, so the ball is in your court. When it comes down to it, you alone as the business owner are responsible for your online reputation, and regardless of the review, you should care about your customers enough to try to improve their experience with your company, if it was a poor one.
Negative online reviews are always a bruise to your ego, but you can treat them as either a mountain or a molehill. When it comes down to it, if you stay diligent at providing your customers with a spectacular experience, from start to finish, your business will come out on top and you’ll start to see the positive reviews piling in.