A core part of business today is understanding the feedback offered by your customers. These opinions are typically in the form of an online review. In fact, there are numerous websites dedicated to these reviews for nearly every business. As a business owner or manager, you have a right to respond to both positive and negative reviews. There’s a certain protocol that goes along with these responses, however. Get to know the do’s and don’ts of online-review responses. You can effectively manage your reputation as a result.
It’s important to respond to both positive and negative reviews, reports Forbes. However, these responses cannot be added to the conversation many weeks or months after the fact. Be timely with your responses, such as one or two days after the review is time stamped.
Regardless of the wording, your response shows that you’re attentive to every consumer issue. People want to be acknowledged, and your timely response is a reflection of the human side of a business. Timeliness applies to every platform too, including social media posts and dedicated websites.
Avoid Defensive Responses
There will always be a reason for a particular concern. Consumers aren’t interested in reasons, states Broadly. They simply want a fix to their issue. Your responses cannot be defensive as the consumer pours out his or her frustrations online.
The shipping department may have lost power one day, or a product ended up with a defect upon receipt with the consumer. Regardless of the reason for a consumer issue, be honest and forthright with the person. Make the situation better by offering a reasonable solution.
Move the Conversation
Try to complete your response in a single explanation. Ideally, you want a positive response from the consumer that ends the conversation afterward. If you notice that the responses are turning into a tennis match of sorts, there’s an underlying issue.
The consumer may want a refund, exchange or explanation. Be as clear as possible with your responses. Acting coy or vague will only worsen the situation. Everyone’s time is valuable. Be ready to compromise with a refund or exchange so that the conversation can be completed.
Offer an Apology
Admitting fault is always difficult for anyone, including business owners or managers. However, it may be the best route toward a resolution. Offer an apology when the situation warrants one. Be sincere in the wording. Make it a sentence that stands out in the message. Many consumers respond well to apologies, which encourages them to return as repeat customers.
Don’t automatically add an apology onto a response either. Evaluate each issue as it arises. Some concerns don’t require an excuse, and customers would much more appreciate the company to take action, righting the perceived wrong with a refund, or some sort of coupon or promotion.
Don’t Use Offensive Language
You lose all credibility with consumers through online responses that include offensive language. Never take this route, even when the consumer initially presents you with an offensive remark. Maintain your composure through the message. Offer several solutions that may appease the customer. They may be too upset to respond with a civil remark, but your business still reflects positivity. You can only do so much before a person moves on from the online-review platform.
If a review includes a complaint about a product failure, considering a compensation is traditional. You might mention a discount on a future transaction, a replacement for the defective item or another compensatory measure. The exchange should be a fair one from a monetary standpoint as well as the consumer’s perspective. Looking like a “cheapskate” will only make the business appear like it only cares about profits.
Use the Word “Because”
Psychology is a tool that can help any business owner with online reviews. For the most part, people positively respond to a request or reason that includes the word “because.” This term inherently means that there’s an intention or purpose of a request. You might offer a discount “because” a product was defective upon receipt. When consumers see a cause-and-effect relationship within the text, they’re inclined to be happy about the resolution.
Remember the Optics
As you try to move the conversation, the consumer may be stuck on a certain point. It may be frustrating, but you cannot force the person to think or respond in a specific way. Remind yourself that other people are reading and keeping up with this exchange. Your reactions as a business are being gauged by other consumers.
By maintaining a level of professionalism throughout your response, other consumers will respect the fact that you’re trying to resolve an issue. You might gain a loyal following through the online response alone.
Business owners must understand that some reviews cannot be refuted or solved. The situation simply turned out one way or another. Use these reviews as corrections at your business. Mistakes will happen. It’s your decision to make a positive change as a result. Online reviews are helpful to both business owners and consumers alike. And if you think that you’ve done what you could, and your company is still taking some hard hits from that negative review, consider reputation management to help you take control of the perception of your brand.