Should I Respond to Online Reviews of my Business?

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Welcome, weary business owner. You’ve come to the right place.

Owning a business is difficult, exhausting, and sometimes, confusing. 

Man in suit looking at cellphone

There are very few right or wrong answers, and even fewer guarantees that anything you’re doing is working, or will work.

What’s a CEO to do?

While we won’t try to sell you snake oil, we will say that we’ve helped a business or two (or hundreds) straighten up their websites, apps, marketing, and automate their processes to save time and increase profits. 

That’s why we know that online reviews are a thorn in the side of every business owner, small, large, or global.

Why Online Reviews Matter

Woman on laptop with a credit card in one handJust as a retail shop has a storefront, it needs a digital facade as well. Our Google My Business Workshop back in May yielded some interesting info about how YOUR customers are searching for you:

Customers are 70% more likely to visit your business if you have a complete listing online.

While the stats were for Google, we’d bet that a similar mentality applies to social media. If your company doesn’t have an active page on social, then your credibility decreases sharply in the eyes of potential customers.

Today’s consumer spends an average of 13 days researching before making a purchase.

What are they finding? We’re so glad you asked.

Am I Losing Business Because of Online Reviews?

We won’t lie to you; it’s possible. Two weeks of research would lead a potential customer pretty far down the rabbit hole, so you can bet they’ve looked at your website, your social media accounts, and your Google listing. In some cases, all three platforms may feature reviews or testimonials.

Search, Social, Directories

Young woman looking at cellphone drinking coffee

Reviews can be posted in many places, and you may never find them all. But you can find the top-level ones. What are your customers saying? Are they satisfied, delighted, or disappointed after their experience?

Lucky for you, they’re telling you.

Take advantage of their feedback to take a hard look at your business. Could it be improved? Are the comments right? Resist the urge to defend your company in the face of any negative reviews, and instead place yourself into the shoes of the complainant.

Run through the experience; how would you feel in their situation? Now do the same from your own employees’ point of view; did they behave appropriately?

How Should I Handle Bad Reviews?

Before you ask, no, you can’t delete negative reviews. But guess what? The reviewer can.

Two women and a man looking at laptop

Read the reviews, take some time to digest, then respond to them—ALL of them. Be polite, be neutral, but be firm. The only way for you to remove that ugly blotch on your reputation is to change the customer’s mind.

Most bad reviews are mild, resolved with the offer of a discount next time, or simply a sincere apology. With a little honey, you can often persuade the person to give you another star or two, and edit their comment.

Please note: The best action to take with a particularly nasty review is to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible. Do not escalate the situation publicly.

What is the Best Response to Negative Reviews?

Megaphone with stars

“We sincerely apologize for your negative experience, and thank you for taking the time to let us know about this. Please contact management at ###-###-####, and let us make it up to you.”

-Your Name

Man on cellphone

Be empathetic, understanding, and polite.

The worst thing you can do as a business owner is react to their provocation, because their very next move is to add a follow up review, detailing how rude and unprofessional the owner is. It may not seem fair, but it is the way of the working world nowadays.

Negative reviews are no fun, and we’re sorry if you’re struggling with them. Reputation management is not always easy, but with this approach you can raise that gold-star rating. It just takes time.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review—particularly when they’ve had a great experience. Combined with your new strategy for handling negative comments, soon you’ll be seeing five stars in no time!

We’re all adults, but we don’t always act like it. Take the high road, at least online.

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