Insight From The CEO: Responding To Online Reviews

Posted on June 2, 2015

Largo Online Marketing | Tampa SEO

What does it really take to make a person take valuable time out of their crowded schedule to post a review for your business?  In my experience, it takes either a very good experience, or more likely, a very bad experience.

As the manager or owner, you should approach these online reviews with a spirit of thankfulness that your customers took the time to provide you with feedback.

Positive reviews are easy – and should NOT be ignored.  Make your response short and personal. If they mention a specific person or event,

“Allison was just great and came by our table several times asking if everything was OK,” or

“Your selection is the best in the area,” expand on that.

“Allison is one of our best servers.  I have passed along your comments to her.  She said you made her day.”

“We take pride in offering our customers the best selection.  It’s nice to know that made your experience worth writing about.”

Negative reviews are never easy, but in most cases, negative reviews are more valuable to you than positive ones.

Of course, there are people who look for negatives and seem to thrive on raking businesses over the coals.  Many review sites have procedures in place to devalue reviews from reviewers who are constantly negative or positive.

Other negative reviews may come from disgruntled former employees or others who might have an axe to grind with you personally or with your business.  In these cases, you might try reaching out to the reviewer and asking for an email address or phone number to discuss the review.  You will probably not get any response because that would remove the veil of anonymity.  Give the reviewer some time (a week or so) and then respond to the review publicly –

“Dennis, we have reached out to you to try and resolve this issue, but we haven’t heard back from you. Please contact me personally so we may discuss and resolve.”

Sometimes, the reviewer is accurate.  In these cases, we recommend following a five-step process in responding:

1. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to provide feedback

2. Personalize your response – avoid “business speak.”

3. Apologize – sincerely

4. Address the issue(s)

“I brought some out-of-town visitors to your restaurant last week after bragging to them about your brisket. Our server – Phillip – was not very friendly even when we told him about our visitors and their first visit to the restaurant.  He just didn’t seem to care and his service was not up to your standards.  I had to ask for beverage refills several times and the brisket came out cold and tough.  We choked it down but the meals did not live up to the hype we gave them. Very disappointing.  Won’t be back anytime soon.”

“We really appreciate your feedback about your recent visit. I am the general manager and I take these matters very seriously.  We really appreciate the fact that you have had some good experiences in the past that made you recommend us to your friends.  There is never any excuse for bad service and it sounds like that’s what you encountered. I have spoken directly to Phillip and can assure you that he will take great customer service very seriously in the future.  I know this will not totally make up for your experience but if you come in again, please ask for me personally. I will make sure your next experience will be excellent.”

This is the type of response that is likely to persuade the reviewer to post another review that is much more positive.

Remember that most review sites will not allow you to remove negative reviews, so you need to do your best to address all the negative issues. This will demonstrate your commitment to excellence and your attention to customer feedback.