Google allows customers to leave reviews about the services obtained from different businesses. While there are rules to follow, these customers are generally free to say what they think. Some reviews are positive, while others aren’t. Either way, businesses have to immediately respond to these reviews. It’s part of reputation management for small businesses.
For Google reviews, the first step is to verify the business. It’s not possible to respond to reviews if the business is yet to verify the profile. After verifying the profile, it’s impossible to respond through the Google my business app or Google maps. It only takes a few seconds to hit the reply button. There’s also an option to make the response visible to everyone, only to the person who wrote the review.
The need to respond
It’s crucial to respond to these reviews because they are a part of the reputation management strategy. People read reviews before they decide to buy products and services. If the reviews are generally positive, they will feel inclined to patronize the brand. However, if the reviews are mostly negative, they might look for other options. Therefore, it’s crucial to respond to the reviews quickly.
When there are positive reviews, it shows that the customers felt positive about what they got. Acknowledging their reviews by saying thank you is a good strategy. It also encourages them to write something better about the company next time. It also allows them to remain loyal to the brand.
Conversely, if customers left negative reviews, it’s even more important to respond. They might have real concerns that require immediate action. Some of these concerns are true, while others aren’t. Responding to them regardless of the validity of the concern is essential. It isn’t only for the person who left the review, but for the other users who read the information online. They need to know that the company cares about what the customers think. If there were problems when patronizing the products and services, there should also be a promise to do better. Otherwise, it won’t only turn off the existing customers, but other potential customers.
If the reviews are filled with lies, responding is even more important. The negative review shouldn’t win the day. The false narrative might continue to spread, and it would be difficult to control what other people think. Responding as soon as possible would prevent false information from reaching other people.
Be specific with the response
Given the number of reviews online, some businesses might decide to create a canned or automated response. It’s not as highly appreciated as a specific and customized response. People will immediately know if it’s a generic answer to all reviews. It also shows the lack of empathy. When there are specific concerns raised, there should also be a response to each of them. While a simple thank you would be good enough for positive reviews, it’s even better if the answer is more specific. Repeat some of the points mentioned in the review. For instance, if the customer said, “I really liked the steak since it was so flavorful,” the response can be, “Wow. Thank you for the positive review of the dishes we serve. We hope you enjoyed the steak and the rest of your meal, and we hope to see you again in the future.” A more specific response is an indicator that the business read the reviews. It shows empathy and sincerity.
In answering two reviews, the business also has an opportunity to promote the brand. There might be updates about the services offered by the company. Not everyone knows about it, and it’s time to share the information. It can happen through the review response. For instance, if the user said, “I really liked the product. I hope they will have more choices for their lipstick collection in the future,” the response can be, “Hello. You’re in luck! We plan to release the new collection next month. Please stay tuned!” Put the link after the message for the users to know where to go if they would like to purchase one in the future.
Keep the answers short
It doesn’t matter how long the review was. The answer should be concise and straightforward. Again, not everyone has enough time to read the reviews. If they go through every exchange, it will take more time. However, even if the responses were short, it should still be informative. After the initial response, some customers might not feel satisfied. It’s true, especially if they raised specific concerns. The best thing to do is to invite them for a private conversation. There could be further exchanges on private messages or emails. They might also call the company’s hotline to discuss what happened. While it’s important to be transparent, not everyone needs to know the rest of the story. It’s good enough to show that the company cares by responding to the initial review.
Maintain a professional tone
When responding, it’s important to stay professional. It doesn’t matter if the reviews were positive or negative. The response isn’t personal but on behalf of the business. The lack of a professional tone could create a negative impression. People might think that the business doesn’t care about how the customers feel. It will harm not only their relationship with a specific customer but other people reading the exchange.
Reputation management for small businesses from experts
Figuring out how to maintain a positive reputation online is challenging. The good thing is that there are services for reputation management for small businesses available. Some experts who worked with different brands in the past know what to do to help small business owners maintain a good reputation. They also provide other online marketing services. Also, just because the company succeeded in having a positive reputation doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. Things can change, and it helps to continue working on reputation management. There should also be a strategy to prevent negative reviews from spreading, especially coming from competitors. The right reputation management approach will eliminate the possibility of the disinformation campaign from succeeding.