In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of establishing a Rapid Response Strategy for addressing online customer reviews across all review websites.
Today we want to address several issues that may arise during the implementation stage of this strategy. Each of these potential problems is most commonly rooted in our human tendency to confuse efficiency with haste. So, to make sure you are setting the stage for a successful online presence that protects your online reputation while helping you generate new business, keep the below tips in mind before you click submit. As you become familiar with these tips, keep in mind they mostly apply to responses associated with less than perfect online reviews, but they should nonetheless be considered each time you begin drafting a response.
Verify the facts
Before you rush into a response, particularly as it relates to a negative or low-scoring review, it would be prudent to check the facts. Verify the story against whatever documentation or anecdotal experiences are available within your organization before making any decisions about the response and about any internal actions taken in association with the feedback.
The number of times that companies have rushed to a response – only to find out later that the review was false or placed in the wrong business profile – are countless. Should you encounter a false review, consider reporting it to the review host. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Urbanspoon and other major review sites have business-friendly processes in place to contest the validity and fairness of a review.
Be the expert
Having a good understanding of every aspect of your business organization is essential to drafting responses that instill confidence. The goal in providing an expert-level response is to make the reviewer feel like the company cares to make amends, while conveying to all future customers reasons why your company can be trusted to handle future business.
There is nothing more embarrassing than a review where the reviewer appears to have a better in-depth knowledge of your products, services, and standard operational procedures than you or a representative of your company. Know your business inside and out, and make sure your response reflects the depth and breadth of your knowledge.
Before cranking out a response, consider your words carefully and measure them against your branding voice, mission, and corporate vision. Your responses should never contradict your values as conveyed in your website and other means of branding. Use descriptive and branded words often and accurately. When describing menu items or guest room configurations stick to the common lingo used within your organization. It is important to stick to branded vocabulary even if the customer opted to use alternate wording to describe the products or services he received from your company.
Check twice for tone, and do not mock your customer or speak down to them, regardless of the nature of the review. In other words: don’t be like these guys.
Bad grammar or spelling, inability to grasp the nature and format of your business, and poorly based reviews don’t give you a license for lacking compassion. Your response should always dignify the human condition and convey the brand’s deep appreciation for every single customer. A response to a review should never be the home for venting on your part or a resource for corporate catharsis. Be kind and see the issue at hand with the eyes of the reviewer. Their perspective as a paying customer truly matters.
Be cognizant of future customers
As you proofread your response, and just before you click submit, remember who will be reading your review responses. Your response could potentially be read by thousands of potential customers. Make it your first priority to write your review response in a way that is solution-driven, customer-oriented, and highly informative. Responses are a great opportunity to freely highlight every aspect of your business and provide insights of value that might not be part of your website content or offline collateral. Paint a picture that invites people to try you out with the confidence of knowing that, to you and the company you represent, customers matter more than words can express.
Now that you have checked all five markers of a great review response, go ahead and click submit. The quicker you engage with the customer, the more appreciated he will feel!