Once upon a time, the celestial bodies we call ‘stars’ provided humanity with two vital services; first, as points of navigation, they would guide brave explorers through unknown territory. Second, these mysterious, glistening objects would provoke a sense of awe and mysticism in the minds of our ancestors that would ultimately shape the foundations of many ancient cultures and traditions.
Today, these celestial bodies have been re-purposed and converted into five-pointed symbols. Through the collective digital medium of the Internet, what once served as a guide on the high seas now acts as a compass for consumers, those looking to spend their hard earned money on the plethora of products, services, and entertainment that the sprawling marketplace of the World Wide Web has to offer.
The impact that this has on enterprises both large and small is (understandably) enormous. Recent studies revealed that 85% of online consumers trust the reviews and ‘star’ ratings that they view on the web. This unwavering acceptance of the opinions of others forms an indisputably powerful selling tool that influences purchasing decisions to a greater extreme than any other marketing ploy.
As consumers are faced with such a broad diversity of products, providers, and businesses at their disposal, what people have to say really does matter, especially in the context of the business world. When potential clients are searching for the enterprise that is right for them, most are almost certainly going to take a casual, if not in-depth, look into how your company is rated on the mightiest of search engines – Google.
Since the reputation of your business rests so heavily upon what these digitally-savvy sleuths have to say, how you interact with them is of utmost importance. In an insightful written article, Harvard Business Review revealed that businesses that actively respond to Google reviews actually receive better overall consumer ratings. Whether positive or negative, the entrepreneurs who are most attentive to reviews are ultimately going to oust the competition.
Since this is the case, I am here to provide you with some handy tools and tips that will help you respond to your Google reviews in a manner that will help your business continue to aim for the stars. It is easy enough to respond to your allies, but much more tact is required when dealing with naysayers. Throughout this article, we will cover the basics of rewarding your supporters, and also coercing the cynics back to your side:
Negative Reviews – What To Do
- Find The Root Cause: When keyboard warriors prepare to launch their ‘one star’ offensive, there is almost always a root cause. In most cases, their review will paint a clear picture of their displeasure. Other times, you may have to dig deeper. Prior to responding, be sure you understand what the issue on hand is. Remember to not let your own negative emotions come into play. Sure, they may be harping on your life’s work, but, at the end of the day, you will have the upper hand by formulating a competent and respectful response.
- Write Your Response: Rather than privately messaging the customer, reply to them through the same medium that they have chosen to express their thoughts. Your open response displays transparency and shows that you are open to handling any issues in a public forum, something that conveys attentiveness to prospective clients. In many cases, you may be surprised, as that negative reviewer could turn into a repeat customer once they know that somebody is listening and concerned about their problems.
- Show That You Can Help: In many cases, the chain of events that escalated into your negative reviews may be entirely out of your control, your reply should be expressed in an empathetic manner. Express your empathy towards the customer, and, to take things one step further, offer solutions that will optimize their experience in the future.
There are many paths that can be taken here, including providing direct contact information, future discounts, or any other type of conciliatory offering. What you offer depends on what your business’ specialty is in the first place. If you are a restaurant, offer them a gift card on the house. For less service-based companies you may want to offer them a platform to voice their concerns in more detail, such as through a direct business line, replace their purchase or refund the transaction all together.
Positive Reviews – What To Do
- Acknowledgement Is Key: If the reviewer has provided you with a coveted ‘Five Star’ review via Google, there is a significant chance that their name will be posted as well. If this is the case, be sure to acknowledge them directly, as you would in person. Simple though it may be, being addressed by one’s own name helps create a sense of belonging. Whether they are aware of it or not, your customer will subliminally appreciate being acknowledged in this fashion.
- Express Gratification: As if it hasn’t been made clear throughout this article, these reviews can be instrumental towards the success of your organization. When responding to a positive comment, be sure to emphasize just how enthused you are with their feedback. There is no need to be overbearing here, just make sure that you customize your response so that it aligns with theirs. Cookie cutter ‘thank you’s’ are nice, but a more genuine and heartfelt reply ultimately means a lot more.
- How Can You Help Them: By simply hopping online and writing good things about your company, this client has done a lot to help you. Whether they realize it or not, they are essentially providing you with a form of free marketing. As with negative reviews, dig into your bag of tricks and try to find something that will reward them for their fervour. If you are a software company, give them the opportunity to Beta test a new product. Retail store? Mail them a gift card. Simple gestures can lead to lifetime customers.
Clichéd analogies to the night sky aside, the stars (and words) that your clients post on Google can make a world of difference. The Internet is certainly not a cold, dead place, and, even if they are clearly not your ally, you should still remember to treat people like people. By acknowledging their comments, expressing your own condolences and/or congratulations, and perhaps providing something a little extra, you would be surprised how managing your Google reviews can go a long way.