How to Respond to Online Reviews of Your Small Business

Responding to online reviews can be tricky for any size business. But when you're only just starting out, giving the right impression can go a long way to impressing potential clients.

You've probably heard of some popular online review platforms, such as Trustpilot, and these can be a good way to let potential customers know what it's like to be customer of yours. It can let them know that your business is trustworthy and isn't hiding anything.

There may be times where you have bad reviews as well as good ones. But it's not all bad so long as you show that you're trying to remedy the situation with the person affected. If you fail to respond to any one star reviews you can give the impression that you don't care about your customers and you're not taking on board any feedback.

So how should you deal with a one star review?

Responding to negative reviews

If you respond to a review and help the customer out of the situation they found themselves in, they may change their one star review into a five star review. Just because you've listened and reacted to their claims.

Example of a response to a poor review

We've compiled some tips in order to help you get into the right mindset when replying to a negative review.

How to handle negative reviews

1. Empathise - You're dealing with a real person behind the screen. It can be easy to see it as a faceless complaint, but there is someone there. Remember to show understanding when responding.

Issue an apology, even if the issue isn't directly your fault - it can still go a long way. They will begin to feel as though you're on their side. It'll also make it seem as though you're an honest person and will help them.

2. Do more than apologise - Thank the review for taking their time to leave their review. If they're complaining about something that you're able to help them with then make sure you're showing that you're helping. Or if it was a previous issue that's now been resolved, make sure to inform them that the issue has since been resolved. It'll also show others that you're not just saying words, you're following up too.

3. Stay positive - There may be a time where there are positive points intermixed with the negative ones, be sure to highlight these. Expanding on positive points can help to reaffirm your company values.

Take the example of running a restaurant, you may have a review left complaining about long wait times. Turn this around by mentioning that everything is freshly prepared to order, using fresh ingredients and may take a little longer but is worth the wait.

4. Be consistent - If you answer different reviews in different ways it can be a little detrimental. Try to keep your tone consistent between different reviews, even if there is more than one of you responding.

5. Get personal - Addressing a reviewer by name can give reassurance that you're not just copying and pasting replies from other reviews. Also signing off with your own name can give it an extra personal touch.

6. Take a step back - but not too far - It's important to reply to a customer as soon as possible, in order to make them feel listened to. However, take a step back to think about what you're going to respond with.

Think about how different it can be to receive an email or text message compare to speaking face-to-face or over the phone. There may be some misinterpretation with the messages, or miscommunication with the tone of the message. This can be more so when speaking to someone you don't directly know.

Once you're feeling calm, picking up the phone and giving them a call can clear up any confusing in a matter of seconds. But also, make it clear on the review site that you have spoken to the reviewer and that you've resolved their issue. Other reviewers may feel as though you've ignored them otherwise.

7. Turn a negative into a positive - Rather than getting annoyed by a review, use it as an experience to improve your customer relations and your customer experience. Learn from it an improve your processes.

Responding to positive reviews

Example of a good review

Don't leave positive reviews sitting there gathering dust, they deserve a thank you for spending their time to leave the review. Replying to good reviews give you the chance to highlight the good things about your business.

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