Overall, you want to have an authentic voice, not come across as a lawyer, a robot, or a PR rep. (Sorry, lawyers and PR reps…and robots!) It’s important to reply in your own voice and come across as “real.” As mentioned in earlier post, your responses don’t have to be perfect.
Is it really worth the bother? Well, it may seem like this process is aimed at addressing one single angry or unhappy customer. As some savvy business owners have figured out, though, it’s really all about…
…killing two birds with one stone. In other words, you want to address any specific accusations and mitigate the negativity of the reviewer, but you also need to understand that you’re really speaking to an entire audience of potential customers—who may be more influenced by your response to criticism more than they’re swayed by the negative review.
Even if the customer is just plain wrong, you still need to acknowledge the way he or she felt. Take, for example, Clint Bigham of We Fit Gym in Long Beach, California. One of his Yelp reviews implied that his gym was closed when it should have been open.
Clint’s approach was perfect and serves as a great template for other business owners.
1. Acknowledge how the customer felt and apologize.
2. Explain why it happened.
3. Describe what you did to solve the problem.
4. Invite the customer back.
So, although Clint’s message sounds like it’s directed at the reviewer, it’s really addressing the concerns of every other potential customer.
As a side note, once you’ve crafted a thoughtful, personable reply, have someone else look it over before you post. Remember: once it’s “out there,” it’s out there for good.
Playing defense can put you in a powerful place. Once you’ve got a good message ready to go, take a deep breath, press the “post” button, and start the discussion!