Reviews are used by customers to help decide whether to buy a product, especially with email marketing and other online purchases. Negative reviews can put them off and it is both useful and cost effective to have a pre-planned response to online reviews. One of the main advantages is a short decision making process meaning a response is prompt. An ill-thought-out response can stay available for years and harm your your business.
Here’s what those responsible should do:
1/ Check reviews frequently and regularly
Know what people are saying about your product. Read all responses, not only the 5 stars and similarly not only the 1 stars. Remember that they might well indicate a particular problem, something to encourage or a change in expectations.
2/ Not underestimate customers
Most will read reviews critically, in essence will review the reviewer. You must do the same yourself. If the review is unfocussed and rambling, most people will ignore it. A reply only highlights it. If you feel safe to ignore it, most of your customers will. I’ve seen a one star review which stated that the object did not ‘fit’. The person had ordered the wrong size. Would that put you off buying it?
3/ Work out the correct reply
If you feel some kind of response is required, then keep it specific, reasonable and helpful, even if the reviewer is irritating. Perhaps especially if they are. Your comments will be judged by potential purchasers. They will think that if they have a problem, this is how theirs would be dealt with.
4/ Drop everything
They should immediately start the responding process. When one is spotted, they should reply as soon as possible to limit damage. Others posters might well come in with their opinions, so get in first.
5/ Identify the problem
Ignore the waffle and discover what they are actually criticising. They might be right and if so admit it and rectify it. Thank them for bringing it to your attention.
6/ Keep the same media
Put your response to the problem directly under the complaint, in whatever medium it is in. You will want to convince those who have read the negative review.
7/ Don’t go for the throat
Whilst it is tempting to reply in kind, a mildly offensive review can be negated by a reasoned and polite response. Would you buy from a company whose public relations department wound others up? If you are in the right, tell every reader that you are, but do it subtly.
8/ Know when to drop out
If the reviewer replies critically then it might useful to address any new points. If the language is offensive or the person ignores everything you have written, then it can be best to end the procedure there. Give your reasons and suggest they contact you (giving a name can be useful and persuasive to others) to discuss their problems.
Whilst all disgruntled customers are not the same, a clear policy, with guidelines as to responses, can reduce the fallout from poor reviews and a reasoned reply can generate trust, essential in email marketing.