The Big, the Bad, and the Scary: When and What to Say to Customer Reviews
To continue our “month of reviews” today I’d like to talk to you about two things that are never easy when dealing with customer reviews: when to say it, and how to say it. Sometimes reviews slip through the cracks and, as business owners, we don’t see the reviews until it’s “too late”; furthermore, even if you are able to respond in a timely manner, how do you speak to your client? While the answers seem simple, those two thoughts plague every business owner and can seem to be an insurmountable task, so let us discuss some best practice when dealing with these issues.
As mentioned in our previous blog about a prospective client of ours who failed in their business, client reviews were an issue heavily discussed. The business had inherited quite a few negative reviews, as well as good ones, and she couldn’t decide exactly what to do with them, so she said nothing. This was a huge missed opportunity! Even though the reviews could have been a year old, anything said on Google is SEO algorithm monitored, and can be used to the businesses advantage to drive customers to your site. Especially in her case, it could have been used to let former clients know that the business was under new management and to stay aware of upcoming changes. To make it more relevant to those whose businesses are alive and thriving, this is an opportunity to check in with them if you have a residual income model where the client is paying monthly for something, to make them aware of new specials and sales available, and to let them know they are still valued. However, keep in mind you want to reply to the bad reviews first and work your way through the good ones. You can apologize that you did not see the review and let them know that you still want to make their experience right and help them in any way possible and then move the conversation offline if possible so you can handle the icky details away from the public eye. While responding late is not ideal, it still shows a high level of professionality and can save a client and drive them back to your business if they have left. This is why review management is a key part of what we do at Manic Social, so you don’t run in to the problem of having to carefully phrase your reply a year later.
The second difficult task is how to word your response to your clients. This “voice” is going to depend heavily on your branding, your business, and who you are as a business owner. Obviously, a BBQ restaurant in the deep south (the only place to get good BBQ by the way) is going to sound different from an insurance agent’s office, and those two will all differ from who an arts and crafts business will respond. The first thing to keep in mind is to know your client base and how they will react. The second is to keep in mind your brand and the message you want to convey. If you are southern, be southern and polite the way you were raised, if you’re an arts and crafts vendor, you may reply in a more witty and casual manner. For me personally, I have a quirky sense of humor and a bit sarcastic so that is normally my go-to, but I always keep in mind if my customer base will respond well to that. In some industries, that quick-witted sense of humor earned me some pretty black looks, so I learned to self-edit and learn when it is appropriate to be humorous and when it’s better to smile and keep it simple. While it should go without saying, it is never a good idea to use swear words in a public online forum when replying to customer reviews. Even if you know THAT customer will respond well, not everyone will understand so keep those comments off public spaces.
Simply put, always respond to your customers and be yourself but be mindful of your brand.