Everyone wants to be loved…but, when it comes to online reviews, you don’t want to seem insecure or needy. Every customer that takes the time to write a review – good or bad – is an opportunity for your business.
A good general rule of thumb is to not try to stack the deck or take things too personally.
In a perfect world, what you want to accomplish is encouraging online reviews without incentivizing them and using negative reviews as a way to improve your brand.
What Not To Do – Respond to Reviews Like a Crazy Person
We have certainly mentioned this before, but, the worst thing that you can do is take bad reviews personally.
We are all, as hard-working humans, very invested in our businesses – so, it is easy to see why people react so poorly to bad reviews. It often feels like a personal attack. It feels like something you care deeply about is being attacked, often in ways that seem unfair.
But, even when online reviews are unfair, or even cruel, you only make yourself look terrible by reacting and responding poorly. No matter how bad reviews are, their impact is only magnified when you respond defensively or, even worse, aggressively.
In all honesty, you should try to see every review as an opportunity for your company – even the bad ones are potentially gold. Find synchronicity – look for people making similar complaints – and use that information to improve your services. All reviews, good and bad, are free market-research, you should use them to improve your entire brand.
Every angry customer is also an opportunity to show the rest of the world how much you care about providing service. Most review sites allow you to respond to reviews, and those responses can show how much you deeply want to make mistakes right. Many angry customers only want you to show them you care. You can change the perception of your company by how you respond to your bad reviews.
No matter how proud you are of your products or service, if your customers are saying you are failing, you probably are (even if it is painful to admit), the bottom line will start to bear this out over time. If you never get any feedback, even painful feedback, you will be left wondering why it all went wrong. You have to read your reviews, you have to care about even angry customers, and you have to be engaged in finding solutions.
You should certainly respond, but not in the way you probably want to. When you get a bad review, you should genuinely apologize and try to find a solution that works for each customer complaining. Try to make things right.
When you get a good review, thank the customer for their patronage, and mention that you hope you will see them again soon.
What You Can Do: Encourage Your Customers, Be a Champ not a Troll
Some sites seem to agree that it is okay to ask for reviews, even to encourage them, as long as that encouragement does not include providing incentives for positive reviews (Google). Others discourage or prohibit the practice (Yelp).. What are the best ways to walk that line?
First, I know this sounds way too much like a sermon, but, the best way to create evangelists is to make them excited about your products and services. Make your customers thrilled with your brand. If people are thrilled with your company, they will find ways to let other people know.
Five years ago, people needed to be educated about going to sites and leaving reviews. Nowadays, most people have several review sites bookmarked and are very well-versed in navigating and leaving reviews. Most people use review sites to navigate the world and make buying decisions, so they also know that they have the power to leave reviews.
If you have bad products or services, people will tell you. If you have great products and services, people will tell you. When people are delighted, they want to share that feeling with others. I have parents in their 70’s and they know about leaving reviews when they are satisfied or unsatisfied, they know about telling their Facebook friends about bad and good experiences, and they know about word of mouth.
Obviously, with sites like Yelp, the best thing you can do is try to provide the best customer experience you can and hope for the best. It is a good idea to read the guidelines on any site you want to be reviewed on. Once you have decided that a site is right for you – claim your business and add pictures and add branded information.
No matter what the site guidelines are – on all of the major review sites – you should be ready to respond to reviews – as long as you can remain civil, polite, and non-defensive. For the other sites:
- Include a few of your listings in your email signature line. Every time someone reads an email from you, it will gently encourage them to visit and leave a review.
- Include something subtle on your receipts and/or invoices.
- Have review badges on your site – like “Check us out on these review sites” followed by links to the different pages
- If a review site has particularly positive reviews for your – add the url to your business card with “Check us out on ____”
- If you have an email list – add a request for people to review your business at the end of emails on a separate subject
The most important rules are to react to all reviews – good or bad – as an opportunity. To get more reviews, connect yourself to the major review sites in the minds of your customers and anyone considering your services by adding badges and links in the places they encounter your business.