Consumer review sites allow customers of restaurants, retail businesses, and service providers to leave information for other prospects about their experiences with the business. Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List provide a public forum for sharing comments and ranking the services provided by a business. For example, Yelp responses from customers have a big impact on your brand and how your business is seen by prospective customers; according to Mashable, 90% of customers say online reviews impact their buying decisions. When a consumer searches for a spot to have dinner, a provider to fix their broken HVAC system or a spot to buy cosmetics, they can read the experiences and opinions of other customers; these reviews have a powerful impact on how a brand is perceived. Read on to learn more about how reviews can help or hurt your business, and for sample Yelp responses.

All Reviews Matter

Customers leave reviews for several reasons; in most cases, they take the time to log in and leave a review when they are very happy, totally outraged or otherwise incentivized to do so (be careful though, providing incentives for positive reviews can get you into trouble on Yelp). Occasionally, customers (or even people who have never been to your establishment at all) leave “troll” reviews to be funny, rude or to gain attention. Because most people only take the time to type out a review when they are motivated to do so, reviews on sites like Yelp tend to be either really good – or devastatingly poor.

Your reviews matter, whether your customers rave about your service or pan your offerings; in many cases, the way you respond to the review is as important as the review itself.

Respond to all Reviews

Responding to every review you receive is a must and helps you achieve several key goals:

• You let customers know you read and appreciate their responses
• You visibly reward customers who leave a good review by taking the time to respond; this makes it more likely other consumers will chime in and leave their own positive responses or reviews
• You have the opportunity to soften a negative review
• You establish a history of positive interactions; if you ever do get a bad review, its impact can be minimized when there is a steady stream of “good” customer interactions on the page

Sample Yelp Responses that Make a Difference

It is tempting to respond defensively – and right away – if you get a review you don’t like or feel is unfair (you don’t want to respond like this infamous company), but if you take the time to cool off a bit and create a measured response, you can turn a bad review around. While each individual review and complaint will vary, taking the following steps can help mitigate a bad review and ensure your business looks its best online:

Thoroughly read the review

What was the consumer’s primary complaint? Cold food? Slow service? Crabby cashier? Make sure you understand the problem before you attempt to address it.

What happened?

Do your own research to find out what happened – you’ll be better able to respond when you know what caused the issue in the first place.

Research the writer

No, don’t be a creepy stalker. You’re looking for info to improve your business here. Does this reviewer constantly leave bad reviews, or are they usually glowing with praise? Another complaint in a line of negatives may say more about the customer than about your business. A bad review from a consumer who usually leaves glowing praise is a sign of a real problem on your end.

Apologize

Once you have all the information you need, you can craft a response. A review response that begins with “I am sorry” will go a long way towards improving the impression your business makes on readers, even if you can’t make amends with the particular customer you’re dealing with.

Follow up with a private message if it’s really bad.

For example, on Yelp, you may wish to invite the customer to try your business again with a gift card, and ask them to consider updating their review. This isn’t something you’ll want to post publicly, and it shouldn’t take the place of your public reply.

Write a response that places your business in a positive light. Incorporate the following into your response:

• Apology (I’m sorry your nacho cheese was cold and I want to make it right)
• Acknowledgment of the problem (Nobody likes cold cheese on their nachos!)
• Explanation (Why this happened – our nacho specialist went into labor and another employee stepped in.)
• How you are fixing the problem (We’ve made sure all employees understand just how important it is to serve up nachos with the sauce at the perfect temperature.)
• Thank you (For taking the time to leave the review and let us know what your experience was, we appreciate your input and the chance to make it right.)

A well thought out response that includes all of these elements fully recognizes the complaint, lets all readers know you take reviews seriously and resolves the issue in a positive way. In some cases, the customer may even change the review after seeing your response, but even if they don’t, you’ve shown other prospects the level of service you offer and how far you’ll go to create a positive experience.

Taking the time to thoughtfully respond to all reviews is one more way to make your business brand shine online, and to ensure customers get a full understanding of the great service you provide. Do you have questions, or are you looking for help with managing your business’s reviews? Contact us today.