Handling Comments and Reviews
For my next article in the ‘What Would Chris Do?’ Series, I will share how to engage and respond to online reviews and comments. In the last few weeks, I have had a few shop owners express frustrations about reviews or comments left online. They asked how I would handle these situations, so I thought this would be a great time to write about it.
Online advertising and engagement are more prevalent and important than ever for any business. But it is a double-edged sword. The same instrument that lets our voices be heard across the world with a tap of a button also means anyone else (even with an erroneous or opposing opinion) can be heard.
That said, I always encourage owners to embrace this process of feedback and opinion. It gives us some insight into our operations and sales—positive or negative—and allows us to respond to the commenter.
As I developed a mindset on responding to reviews over the years, I used my perceptions and reactions from when I read reviews for products or services (because I am also a consumer). I noticed the following things:
1. More Than 100 Five-Star Reviews and Nothing Less Almost Seems Fishy
Do all people like iPhones? How about Ford trucks? Or Keanu Reeves as an actor?
The answer is no. For everyone who loves something, there usually is someone who doesn’t. In this day and age of fake accounts and inflated followers, many subconsciously assume that 500 five-star reviews and nothing less will contain fake reviews. I look for a 4.7 to 4.9 score. I read a few five-star reviews and want to see the random one or two-star. As a consumer, I feel I am getting more of the truth. What does this mean as a business owner? Don’t be deathly afraid of a lower-than-five-star review.
2. It is All About the Owner’s Response
This second point plays off the first. As a consumer, when I read a few of the reviews, I always take notice when, on a five-star review, the owner has thanked the patron for their business. It’s even more powerful when it isn’t just a cut-and-paste response, but it is actually personalized:
“Thanks Jon. It was our pleasure working on your new BMW M5. What a beautiful machine! Congrats, and I can’t wait to see you for that maintenance wash!”
By doing this, it shows that every customer is important to that business and that you are trying to create a lasting relationship and not just an immediate profit. I would even do this for four-star reviews. If they leave feedback, say, “Thanks for the feedback, and we look forward to serving you in the future! It was a pleasure to work on your car!”
The response to the one or two-star reviews is even more important. If we are good business owners who take pride in our work and reputation, seeing these reviews is so painful … I have been there! We think:
• “How could someone leave that?”
• “I don’t even know who this customer is?”
• “That isn’t even what happened!”
Most consumers are savvy enough to know that if you have 160 five-star reviews and a few four-star reviews, a random one-star is weird. This is where we can shine with our response. I will give some examples of responses I would use for different scenarios:
1. “Worst Experience Ever.”
• “I apologize that you feel you had a poor experience with us. We pride ourselves on providing amazing workmanship and service to our clients. We always are appreciative of feedback and constantly strive to improve our processes. Is there a number or email I can reach you at to learn more about your experience? Sincerely, Chris West, store manager.”
2. “Way Overpriced.”
• “Hi. While our pricing is at the higher end of the market, we feel that we offer a service second to none. (Explain what sets you apart—free marketing right here). This is what has helped us to build a strong relationship with our longstanding customers and the greater (fill in the city) area.”
3. Customer Leaves a Detailed Explanation of Everything That Happened
• If there is something that you could have improved on from their experience, then you leave a response similar to #1 but you now use their name so it is more personalized.
• If what he/she explains is indeed true but they just didn’t like it, then you would leave something similar to #2, where you agree with them and share a brief explanation of why.
A few final suggestions:
• Social Media Comments
o Never get into a battle with someone or be petty. Take the higher road. Everyone wants to see how you react to the troll.
o Remember you can turn off comments as well.
Also, you can report reviews and look to get them deleted. Many times, they will want to see that you tried to resolve the issue or that you have responded.
Remember that reviews and comments are a part of doing business. How we react and respond to them will determine future customers and relationships.