However you feel about online reviews, they’re an unavoidable part of running a business today. Over 90% of online shoppers check reviews before purchasing, which means it’s vital to provide prospective customers with this opportunity to check your reputation.
Should I set up an online review platform?
Generally speaking, customers that have had a negative experience are far more likely to leave a review. Your initial response to this might be to presume you’re better off not setting up with a third party review platform in the first place!
However, it’s inevitable that at some point a customer will take it upon themselves to create a profile for you if they can’t find an existing one. This could be because they’re a super fan and want to spread the positive word, but it could be the opposite…if the latter is the case, it really doesn’t look good if prospects come across a review site for your company that features just one negative review.
The fact is, customers that have had a bad experience will be far more compelled to write a review, so if you aren’t actively asking for them, they may end up weighted unfairly in favour of the negatives. If you invite every customer to write a review, you should receive a fairer representation.
Responding to Reviews
Reacting to reviews, positive and negative, shows to your client that your business cares about their customers.
If you are short on time, prioritise responding to longer reviews that customers have put a greater amount of energy into composing. Ideally, do try to respond to all of them.
Positive reviews provide a great opportunity to make that particular customer feel valued, too. Always thank them for taking the time to leave a review, and personalise your response as much as possible. This means copy and pasting is a big no-no, which will take more time, but is undoubtedly worth it in the long run.
Tips for your Response
Make an individual association by utilising their name in your response. Express gratitude toward them for setting aside the time to share their experience and for using your business, regardless of the nature of their review.
Focus on the key points they shared in your response so they know you read their review in full, and didn’t skim. Sorry - this does mean you need to read all reviews in full!
Responding to Negative Reviews
Negative reviews may make you angry, especially if they are unfair. If this is the case, your initial reaction may be to give them a piece of your mind. Don’t.
It’s important to understand that customers often use reviews to vent, and so from your point of view they may well seem unjust. If this is the case, whatever you do, do not respond with anger. This will look very unprofessional. Instead, turn this bad situation into a positive one.
There is a certain art to responding in a way that eases the customer’s anger, but at the same time shows to potential customers that the review may not be wholly accurate. They will need to read between the lines, which may seem unlikely, but trust me most people will be able to if you do it right.
If you truly haven’t done anything wrong, then show regret for the overall experience the customer has had but don’t take full responsibility. Show the customer you care and are listening, but at the same time address all their points and defend your corner. Don’t criticise the customer though, and don’t be patronising.
Example: A customer leaves an angry review about how the shirt they ordered was too small.
Your response should loosely follow this structure:
If you can, it’s always best to end with a positive. Sometimes even if it means going above and beyond and possibly making a (small) financial loss. If a potential customer reads this review and your response, it could easily have a more positive affect than a straight out 5 star review would.
What to do when you're in the wrong
Even if you have very strong principles and operate your business accordingly, everyone makes mistakes at some point or another.
It will be only a matter of time before you receive a negative review where your company has messed up. Maybe there was a packing error and the customer received the wrong item. Maybe their order was accidentally deleted and they never received it. Whatever the specifics, if you were in the wrong you need to take responsibility.
The vast majority of people know that nobody is perfect, and this won’t reflect badly on you (as long as this isn’t the basis of the majority of reviews you receive!).
Start your response by apologising outright for their experience and admit that you were in the wrong. Explain as much as possible about what caused the issue to help them understand, and let them know what you are going to do to rectify the situation.
Try and make sure that the remuneration is at least equivalent to the inconvenience caused, if not better. Finally, thank them for taking the time to leave a review and reassure them that it is a rare mistake and it won’t happen again.
Reap the Rewards
There are many rewards for having a solid, positive online review profile. You can connect most popular platforms to Google, to help with rankings and click-through rates, and you can add widgets to your site to show off your positive reviews.
The increased conversions will make all that time spent responding totally worth it!
This post was written by Ed Morley at Custom Condoms - specialists in printing custom condoms for businesses to use for promotions, exhibitions and events.