How To Manage Your Online Reviews

If you asked me, “What are two words that can strike fear into the heart of any small business owner?” I would say, “Online reviews.”

Online reviews are awesome. They give your customers the chance to share the amazing experiences they’ve had with your business! What’s more, prospective customers will check out these glimmering first-hand accounts from your customers and want to do business with you.

What makes reviews not so awesome is that they give your customers who felt they had a negative experience, or even worse, your competitors, the chance to share their experience (or lack thereof) with the entire Internet!

As a Reputation Management Specialist, I have worked with multiple businesses helping them to establish and maintain their online reputation. In this article, I’m going to share some best practices that have worked great for me in my line of work. If consistently adhered to, this guideline will help to deliver results for your business.

Centralize Your Reviews

There are many different review platforms that allow customers to leave reviews of your business. The largest are Google, Facebook, and Yelp respectively, but there are a multitude of smaller ones that can slip through the cracks. (I see you, Bing Places for Business).

With so many different places for customers to talk about you, it can become a bit overwhelming to keep up, especially if you have to manually access every account individually to see if anyone has talked about you. This is where having a centralized review platform can come in handy.

Specific software is available that allows you to keep tabs on all of your reviews from all sources. They can make the process even easier by emailing you when a customer leaves you a review – giving you a faster response time and making you look even better!

Respond to Your Negative Reviews

You have been in business for 30-plus years and have worked hard building a solid reputation. You check your Google Reviews… and somebody said something inflammatory and flagrantly wrong about your business.

It may be tempting to just brush it off and do nothing, but this is a great opportunity to not only save the relationship with this customer, but more importantly to show potential new customers that you take customer service seriously, and won’t just disappear if something goes wrong.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Let’s face it, no one likes being criticized – especially in a public setting. Your response can turn this negative experience into a positive outcome. Here’s the outline of how I formulate my responses for unhappy customers.

Never say you’re sorry

Instead, tell them you’re disappointed they had a negative experience.

This way you’re not admitting fault, but you’re still acknowledging their viewpoint.

Read the review thoroughly and address the specific issues they brought up.

Canned generic responses might save you time, but they make you look lazy to the person you’re addressing as well as to the general public. Take the time to truly address their concern.

Example Complaint: “The wait time at your office was atrocious! Completely unacceptable!!!”
Example Response: “We understand how frustrating that must have been for you. The person before you required immediate medical attention which created a delay before Doctor Johnson could see you.”

Take the Conversation Offline As Soon As Possible

As much as I love reading peoples’ drama on Facebook and other social media platforms, your business reviews section is not the place for that. In your initial response, try to get the interaction with the reviewer offline as soon as possible. Reasonable people will appreciate that you took the time to respond and should be willing to work with you to get the situation resolved. If they refuse to take it offline and continue “type-shouting” expletives at you, the people reading the exchange will likely see that person is an unreasonable person, discount the review entirely, and you win.

Example Response: “In order to better understand the specific details, we’d like to talk with you directly. Feel free to reach out to me at (248) 555-1212 at your earliest convenience. Ask for Charlie.”

Always End With a Signature

People like to think that the person they are talking to is a person of authority and able to fix their problem. It also makes your response look professional.

Example: Charlie May – Owner

Respond to Your Positive Reviews

As a specialist in this field, do you know what the biggest missed opportunity I consistently see businesses make with online reviews? No response from the business after a glowing review from one of their customers.

Think about it this way: I’m a big MMA fan, so if I saw my favorite fighter, Nick Diaz, walking down the street, I would be really stoked! I’d say, “Nick, you’re my favorite fighter, the way you went at it with Anderson Silva was the stuff of legend!”

If Nick said, “Thanks, man! Stockton baby!” and took a picture with me, that would easily make my day. I would tell every living soul how excited I was to meet him, what a cool guy he is, and probably buy all of his merchandise and tickets to his fights.

Now, let’s say Nick said nothing and didn’t acknowledge me whatsoever. I’d be crushed and my opinion of him would probably be knocked down a couple of pegs. I would still respect him as a fighter, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy his stuff. It’s also fair to say, I’d be much more inclined to move on to a different fighter to follow who would appreciate my respect for them.

That’s how you need to think about your reviews. Are you the type of business that sees their customers as just another transaction at the cash register? Or are you the business that treats their biggest supporters like the rock stars they are?

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

Thank The Customer

First things first: Say thank you! Your customer took time out of their busy day to say something nice about your business. The least you can do is say thank you!

Address What Made Them Happy

Take the time to read the review. What made them happy? Did they compliment a particular staff member? Did they love a particular dish?  Mention that in your response to show you cared enough to read their review. Canned responses are not what are going to make deep lasting connections with people.

Mention Your Business Name

This is one of those times where it’s okay to toot your own horn a little bit. This is also a good organic boost for SEO, which makes it more likely you will show up in the search results of Google. Likewise, refrain from mentioning your name in negative reviews, as the same thing applies.

Do a Little Marketing

Your customer has already made it clear they love your business! This is the perfect time to market a bit.

Example Customer: “I loved the steak at this restaurant! Would highly recommend!”

Example Response: “Here at Restaurant X, we use only the finest USDA New York Strip! You have to come back down next weekend. Our porterhouse is to die for!”

See how I was able to highlight how awesome we are, as well as promote another option the customer might find attractive, giving them even more of an incentive to come back?

Why Reviews Matter

At first glance, maintaining your online reviews might seem like a trivial or daunting task, but I hope that this brief guide has provided you the tools to start interacting with your customers and begin nurturing those valuable relationships.

Reputation Management is all about building brand trust and relationships with your customers that, if properly maintained, will benefit your business substantially.

Seem Like a Lot of Work? It is.

As a business owner, we know you’re busy running your company. You most likely will struggle to find the time to manage all of your reviews on all the different review platforms out there. Hiring an outside expert helps you concentrate on what you do best: Running your business.  We’ll concentrate on what we do best – helping our awesome clients manage their digital presence.

If you need help managing your online reviews, Smart Link Solutions can help. Call me today at 248.684.0500 – or send us an email through our Contact Us page.