Feedback Matters #3 – How should I respond to online reviews?

What advice do I give to clients who are scared of flipping their online reviews switch ‘On’? Here’s my quick and easy cheat sheet for when they take the plunge.

Always say ‘Thank You’ regardless of how mundane, negative, or belligerent the feedback may be. Acknowledging and showing appreciation for a customer taking the time to review your product or service, puts you in a good light even when the review is bad. Like I said in my Feedback #2 post, customers don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect (and deserve) to be heard.

Of course, what you say next will depend on the actual content of the review.

Case 1 – You and your product ROCK! – Stellar reviews – Five Stars

  • Congratulations! These are marketing gold. People are much more likely to take time to complain about a product or service they purchased.
  • Say, Thank You for taking the time to post a review. We are thrilled that you liked our [insert product/service here]!”
  • Share the review on your (other) social channels…”Look at this…we’re so thrilled!“*
  • Flag their account in your CRM tool and consider contacting the customer for a testimonial in the future.

Case 2 – It’s satisfactory. – Good reviews – Four Stars

  • Say, “Thank You for taking the time to post a review. We’re happy you like our [insert product/service here].
  • Invite them to contact you offline if they have any questions about this or any other product/service you offer.
  • Consider asking them for suggestions. You might get interesting ideas for your future product/service offerings. Just be sure to manage expectations in your conversations with your customers. Suggestions will run the gamut from insightful to impossible to impractical.

Case 3 – It’s OK, I guess. – Mediocre reviews – Three Stars

  • Say, “Thank You for taking the time to post a review. We’re sorry that we didn’t knock your socks off.” Perhaps there is another product/service that would be more suitable.”
  • Invite them to contact you offline (away from public scrutiny) to help them resolve any issue(s) they have.

Case 4A – It sucks. – Genuine negative reviews – One or Two Stars

  • Say, “Thank You for your feedback. We’re sorry that you didn’t like [insert product/service].”
  • Invite them to contact you offline (away from public scrutiny) to help them resolve their issue(s) and address their complaint.

Case 4B – You, your company, your whole family, and your dog suck! – Trolls

  • Begin with the same approach as Case 4A. Sometimes it’s hard to spot the trolls.
  • Say, “Thank You for your feedback. We’re sorry that… “
  • Invite them to contact you offline (away from public scrutiny) to help them resolve the issue(s).
  • Some might suggest that you just delete these “reviews”. However, handled properly, the general public will recognise the deliberate attempt to bait you and feel some sympathy with you as the target of the unreasonable attack. It is also impossible to delete user reviews on some platforms, e.g. Amazon.
  • If the review is truly from a troll, they won’t contact you directly. If they continue trying to draw you into a public fight, restate that they can contact you directly a second time, thank them for their opinion, and don’t engage with them again.

Case 5 – Complaints about issues outside of your control. – The uninformed

  • As always, thank them for taking the time to submit a review.
  • If there are positive comments, acknowledge those first.
  • If there are issues with a part of the product or service that you have no control over, express your regrets and point them in the direction of the appropriate place to direct those comments. For example, when there are shipping delays but you don’t run the shipping company.
  • If the issue is particularly egregious and distressing to your reviewer, consider doing something to help resolve the issue.

Do you have any tried and true methods for handling customer reviews?

*If you feel the need to ask the reviewer for permission to repost reviews, please do so. You know your customers best. However, anything published in a public forum is technically fair game for display in another public forum…barring copyright issues and the like of course.

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.

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