Wednesday 10 June 2020

ABC of Reviews: 10. Responding

Which is more impressive (bear in mind the people the businesses we have used as examples in this chapter are attempting to impress those that are looking to sell their major financial asset - and often earn the business tens of thousands of pounds)?

This 5* review...

Or this 5* review...

There is one fundamentally important issue to understand when responding to reviews online: that you are corresponding with the future readers of that review as much as you are responding to its author (your customer).

Here we will take you through the dos and don'ts of responding to reviews:

  • Respond! To every review as soon as possible - preferably the same day it is written. Turn on 'notifications' in your Google My Business page so you know every time a review is written.
  • Thank the reviewer for their review, but only if it's positive. People - reviewers or potential customers - don't relate to businesses that thank people for criticising them. 
  • If the review contains a negative comment by all means thank the reviewer for bringing whatever issue prompted it - staff failing, systems breakdown, communication failure - to your attention, but don't - as mentioned above - start with a general apology
  • Address all of the issues raised in the review: there are few things less impressive - especially for those considering using your business - than a response that ignores points raised in a review
  • Respond to all reviews - not just critical ones (you would be amazed just how many businesses only reply to negative reviews)
  • Use your response as a vehicle for communicating your business's strengths. If the reviewer has praised the service they received say 'Thank you for highlighting [aspect praised]' and continue with 'we find most of our customers are pleasantly surprised that, unlike many of our competitors, we 
This last point may be the most important of all. A response to a Google review provides your business with free marketing on Google. What other mechanism does that? Use the opportunity to reinforce relevant messages...'We are so pleased you found [aspect of service] to be so helpful'.

Rather than:

How much more impressive is:


  • get into a confrontation - bear in mind that the reviewer can respond to your response and edit their review accordingly. 
  • always check all your facts before posting a response
  • expose personal details - it is surprising just how many people forget this and include sensitive financial and contact information 
  • attempt to deflect to off-line - the 'please contact us on [email address]' response (see the first example, above), except in cases where confidentiality makes it impossible to respond online, in which case explain fully why this is the only route
  • leave your response for more than a week (as you can see above, Google date-stamp both the review and the response)

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