Anyone, anytime, anywhere can type a few words, click a button and have his transparent opinion – be it good or bad – go viral about your business; how overwhelming.
No panic manic, you too have control over a few dials and gauges that are directly connected to their mind. The question remains, in the age of customer reviews and digital word-of-mouth, how can a business participate in shaping its online reputation?
Leaving rocket science to the scientists, just keep in mind a few points to consider prior to replying to online reviews, regardless if you are a five-star hotel or a fine dining restaurant, a clinic, a spa or even a gym. Firstly, there are fundamental insights to digest in order to facilitate rationalizing the response to online reviews.
Replying to positive online reviews is important because:
- Positive online reviewers are likely to be loyal brand advocates that recommend your business to others, or simply satisfied customers.
- All reviews are public, so are your responses. It’s important to show you acknowledge satisfied customers, not just those with a problem.
- Positive reviews can still contain an opportunity to address an issue, however slight.
- Appreciating your customers’ feedback can encourage them to leave further feedback in the future.
Replying to negative online reviews is important because:
- A negative review is an opportunity to impress and address a dissatisfied customer’s issue, preventing them from taking it elsewhere.
- If handled correctly, a negative review can actually be turned into a wondrous positive, as you resolve the situation.
- Potential customers read negative reviews and will note how you handle the situation.
- Responding allows your business to take responsibility and ownership of the situation.
Having understood the importance of replying to online reviews, the wit is in what to consider before drafting the respond, well here you go with 8 dos and don’t when replying to customer negative reviews:
- Don’t react right away – take a moment to let the emotions out of your system before responding and start gathering the facts before responding right away.
- Do respond promptly – keeping bad reviews unanswered for more than 48 hours has an impact on your reputation. It’s best to at least acknowledge all negative reviews as soon as possible.
- Don’t take it personal – your team works hard to make every customer experience a good one, but mistakes happen. It’s best not to get emotional and keep your response professional.
- Do show compassion – not only should you acknowledge negative reviews but express empathy and care when responding to show that you are a brand that cares about all customers.
- Don’t point blame – sometimes customer expectations are unrealistic but avoid pointing that out and never point blame at anyone including your staff.
- Do take it offline – the last thing that you want is a public argument so ask for the customer to reach out offline through a dedicate phone line or a support email.
- Do investigate if it’s a fake review – unfortunately some reviews are designed to intentionally harm a brand so look for unnatural language and general accusations that you know are not common for your restaurant. If you suspect a fake review, report it to the review site.
- Do share the review with your team – restaurant staff need to understand the issues raised by a genuine negative review but make sure to also explain that you are only sharing the bad review for learnings and to get better at serving your customers better.
In light of all that has been said, the bottom line is ensuring your brand offers a great customer experience even during unfortunate events, every single touch point matter, it’s time to connect with our customers even when they aren’t present at the premises.