Customer reviews play an important role for virtually every business operating in the digital age. In fact, data shows that the vast majority of consumers say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. What’s more, most customers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from close friends and family.
In other words, you’ll want to generate customer reviews if you want to stand out from the competition. But you’ll also need to manage those reviews properly. That may not be as easy as it sounds.
To that end, we’re sharing some tips that will help you manage your online reputation and amplify your customer service. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when responding to your online reviews.
Help the Customer Feel Heard
Despite what the old adage says, the customer may not always be right. However, you’ll need to make them feel like they are – and that starts with ensuring they feel truly heard. Whether you’re responding to an online review or fielding an angry phone call, you should always come back to the acronym, HEARD. This involves:
- Hearing their story uninterrupted
- Empathizing with their feelings
- Apologizing for the situation
- Resolving the issue at-hand
- Diagnosing the problem to prevent future mistakes
If you make sure to acknowledge, rather than dismiss, the customer’s concerns, take their feedback to heart, and show how you’re going to translate that into actionable change, this can go a long way. Not only will this showcase your values and potentially save that customer relationship, but it will show others who view your reviews what your brand is all about.
An important part of review management is responding to feedback, both positive and negative. This doesn’t mean you should feel free to fly off the handle as soon as you receive criticism. But it does mean you must make a concerted effort to engage with those customers as soon as possible.
As soon as a customer leaves a review, the clock starts ticking. You have only a limited window to respond to that review before it’s too late. While there’s no exact time frame to follow, you should aim to respond within a week. This can help to minimize any reputational harm and show customers that you take their experience seriously. To accomplish this, you’ll want to check review platforms regularly and include review monitoring as part of your marketing strategy.
Forget to Ask for Reviews
You can’t really manage your reviews if you don’t have any! Having too few reviews (or none at all) is often seen as worse than having negative reviews. As such, you’ll want to prioritize ongoing review generation.
There are a number of ways to solicit reviews from satisfied customers, but simply asking for them can be highly effective. Reminding a customer in person or sending out an email blast can work wonders. Because many consumers are more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than after a good one, even loyal fans may need a little nudge every now and then. Letting them know how much your support means to them – and showing them the impact that a single review can have on your business – can personalize the issue and convince them to share their thoughts with the world.
Take Things Personally
This might be the most difficult tip on the list, but it’s also one of the most important. You can’t let your emotions get the best of you when responding to reviews.
As a business owner, it’s natural that you’d take criticism personally. But if you become defensive, you’ll risk doing more harm than good. Even if you know that the customer was in the wrong, you shouldn’t even hint at that in your response. Being passive-aggressive or holier-than-thou won’t help matters.
Remember that responding to your online reviews provides you with an amazing opportunity to show off your customer service skills. While it might feel satisfying in the moment to tell off a reviewer, that response won’t have positive results for your business. Other people who read those reviews will simply write off your business as one they don’t want to support. The real story won’t matter because brand loyalty and trust are hard to come by.
It’s worth noting that dishonest reviews can (and often should) be removed. But that doesn’t mean you should try to delete every customer review with which you don’t agree. Taking that feedback gracefully is key. And while you should respond without much delay, you should take some time to think about that feedback and assess whether it could end up helping your business. Your initial reaction might be outrage or hurt, but being able to view that criticism objectively could keep you from making mistakes in the future.
In our digital world, your brand’s online reputation matters. By investing time and resources into review management, you can improve customer perception, drive more traffic to your site, and position yourself as an industry leader.