Online reviews are the modern version of word of mouth. So, I thought I'd take a moment to explain online reviews management.
The TL;DR version is simple. You always respond to reviews when someone goes through the trouble of dropping one.
Most people think of reviews as either being good or bad. I suppose that's a way of looking at it.
I prefer to different paradigm. Reviews aren't good or bad. They either exist or they don't.
If they exist, you've got something to work with. Parlay them correctly and they're a good thing. You can make something of them. On the other had if your peeps don't drop reviews, you have nothing to work with. Nothing you can use to get more peeps.
On the Chris Carter scale, with online reviews management there are two flavors of reviews. The ones you should respond to, and the ones you had better respond to.
Positive reviews, fall into the category of Reviews you should respond to. We're talking 5 Star rating with no words, to a 4 star rating with a glowing 500 word write-up.
When you respond to these reviews, you're playing to three different audiences.
First, of course, is the person who left the review. You gotta reward the effort.
Leaving a review isn't difficult, but it isn't exactly easy either. If it was easy, your customer to review ratio would be close to 1 to 1. I'm sure it's not.
Even if with a system like Frictionless Reviews, you know that when a client leaves a review, it's an event.
That being the case, your reply to their review is nothing less than a big fat thank you in their direction.
You know it's important for your business, they know it's important to you and they went out of their way to hook you up. A thank you is definitely in order. They will appreciate it and get a huge warm and fuzzy from your response.
On the flip side, what if one of your customers did you a solid, left you a really cool review, was waiting for your response to their review and you stiffed them.
That's a load of bad karma floating around waiting to land on you.
If you don't believe in karma, let me first say, you're wrong. It exists and it's pretty accurate. But even if you're a non believer, we're talking online reviews management.
You need to respond to reviews because there are two other sets of eye balls that you need to consider.
You want all concerned parties to know that you value your customers and what they think.
If you remember from earlier, I said that there's really no such thing as a good review or a bad review. That's because even bad reviews can work for you if you're on your game.
Ya see, people are skeptics. If all they see in your review profile are 5 Star reviews, they may have to dispel a little disbelief. After all, nobody's perfect.
It helps the believability if your 5 star reviews have 5 star write ups to go along with them.
Of course, if the only thing we were worried about was the number of stars, then a couple of 3's and 4s wouldn't be so bad.
The problem comes when you get a 1 and 2 star rating that has a 1 and 2 star write up to go along with it.
There are a handful of reasons you may find yourself dealing with these little bits of foo-foo:
These reviews fall into the “better respond to” category. Someone is trying to affect the narrative about your business in a negative way.
Another way of thinking of online reviews management is online reputation management.
Your business' reputation is a real thing. It has real value and that value is pretty fragile. It can't absorb too many hits and still do you any good.
The mantra I recommend you use is very simple. It's your reputation. You get the last word. The last word is the one that leaves the final impression. The last word wins.
If you legitimately stunk up the joint and earned a 2-star rating, own it. Then list what you're doing to make it right.
In every other case, the best defense is to take a deep breath, count to ten and then fill in the details that usually get left out with these types of reviews.
A complete description of events with all the details usually changes how you look in these types of scenarios.
What's important to remember in all cases is what you're actually doing. You're controlling the narrative about your business.
That's why it's never a good idea to respond when you're angry. It's not a good look and nothing you type is going to reflect well for your real audience.
When you respond to a negative review, your response isn't for the person who wrote the review. Their opinion is more than likely chiseled in stone and not likely to change anytime soon.
Your response is 100% for all of the people who will come across that review in the future while deciding whether your company is the right fit for them.
Letting a little foo-foo sit in your review profile with no comments on your part means that whatever was written must be true. At least that's the assumption your future prospects get to have.
You will get good reviews and you will get not so good reviews. In the world we live in, online reviews management matters. They play a large part in how many of your future customers make buying decisions.
How you routinely respond to reviews will affect your bottom line for years to come.