Best Practices for Responding to Your Online Reviews

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Your small business has reviews! Now what?

92% of consumers read online reviews (souce: BrightLocal).

When you run your own small business, it’s very easy to take online reviews you see to heart. Good ones can truly make your day, but bad ones can seemingly ruin your whole week!

It’s very important to have a little perspective when you first read them, especially if it’s a negative review. Put yourself in the shoes of that client and customer. Read and re-read what they’ve said and do not post any knee jerk emotional responses. Entire businesses have been damaged by a flame war that started with 1 negative review and continued with the business owner digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole.

Whether a review is positive or negative, always be professional.

For negative reviews, apologize for the bad experience this person had and let them know that you would like to make it right. Many businesses will ask for the custom to contact them directly, but I think it can be very effective to professionally solve a complaint in public. This can not only bring a positive resolution to the person, but it will showcase to other potential customers and clients your professionalism, that you want to right the wrong, and your concern that you want everyone to have a positive interaction with your business.

Also, negative reviews do have an up-side: “Previous PowerReviews research found that 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews. This is consistent with our theory that near-perfect ratings undermine the credibility of the review. Readers are skeptical of reviews that are too positive and, in many cases, a negative online review is seen as more credible.” – Spiegel Research Center

Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more (souce: BrightLocal).

positive online business reviews

If the review is positive, keep it simple and thank the person for their business. It’s not only professional, it’s polite and it shows people that you care. If you want to go the extra mile, you can do a little subtle marketing in your response as well. For example, if you own a restaurant, you can thank the customer and then mention something like, “If you liked _____, you should try our ______, it’s delicious!” or tell them about a current special or promotion that might encourage them to come back.

The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews. (Spiegel Research Center, 2017)

Pay attention to your online reviews!

Find out where reviews of your business are online and make sure you have accounts with each so that you can respond. Make it a habit to check weekly for new reviews and set alerts for when reviews come in through each individual service. You can also consider a 3rd party service such as Trustpilot.

Don’t Fake It

Resist any remote temptation to produce your own fake reviews, or have people you know who aren’t really customers post reviews anonymously. It’s not only unethical, it doesn’t compare to the worth of actual reviews.

Reviews from verified buyers are substantially more positive than reviews written by anonymous sources. (Spiegel Research Center, 2017)

Not sure where reviews are being posted?

Here’s a handy list of some of the top, as well as some of the lesser known, places where people may leave reviews for your business. While Yelp, Google, and Facebook are “the big 3” in terms of volume and traffic, it’s worth checking out some of these other, as well as ones that are geared towards specific industries.

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