Decline politely? Write the bare minimum? Or, as we are suggesting, give serious consideration to every word you craft? *Because that's exactly what Google are allowing you to do when responding to reviews.
Here are some tips on how to respond to online reviews - whatever your business, and whatever the reviews platform. Some are basic CRM, some may be less obvious, but nonetheless important; let's start with the basics...
- Respond. Businesses that respond to reviews do more business. It's as simple as that.
- Respond to all your reviews. It constantly astonishes us how many businesses only respond to negative reviews. A response takes minutes at the most, seconds usually.
- Be aware that you are speaking to every potential customer when you respond. Most businesses address the writer of the review and forget that they have an opportunity to impress all those who read it.
A simple 'Thank you' or 'We're sorry' is better than nothing at all.
Tailoring your response
It should not take long (and if it does it usually means the review in question has the potential to do real harm to your business if not responded to correctly). Here are some tips and examples.
This is a fairly 'standard' negative review. There is nothing the business can do - it is not against Google's T&Cs, so it cannot be appealed (consult us if you do have an unfair or inaccurate negative review, we will advise you if there is a chance that it may be taken down on appeal) - except respond, which the business has done.
But how could the response be refined? Perhaps something like this (if the customer is recognised):
Or this (if the customer is unknown to the business):
Points to note - 'Dos':
- Always begin by using the reviewer's name (as posted - not as you may know it internally). If the reviewer has posted as MickeyMouse123 then address them as such - that is the convention
- Write so as to impress any third-party (a potential customer) reading your response that you are represent a well-managed caring business. Expressions such as 'As soon as I saw...'
- Refer to the positive nature of the majority of your reviews
- Refer to the fact that it is company policy to proactively invite reviews
- Predict a positive outcome
- Always sign the review in person - never 'Customer services' or unattributed
- If you don't want to disclose an individual email address make sure your business has a dedicated address for review correspondence
- Never disclose a customer's personal or financial details in a response: 'your credit card was declined' or 'your references were unsatisfactory'
- Don't get into a confrontational situation - it helps no-one, least of all your business, if you agrue in public (bear in mind that reviewers can edit their review - both ways)
- NEVER offer financial incentives - either for posting reviews or for modifying them - a comment along the lines of 'They offered me £x to delete this review' is difficult, if not impossible, to come back from
Responding to positive reviews
You would think this would be a piece of cake - what could go wrong? Well, in two words: 'missed opportunities'.
Let's look at an example:
Here the business has responded - a massive step in the right direction. but could they have done better? Remember Google's invitation? Here goes...
See? Don't miss the opportunity to refer to products and services that may be relevant to anyone reading the review and your response. And, again, do sign off with your name and position.
If you follow the advice contained in this article you will see more of the benefits of properly engaging with reviews, whichever platform they are on.