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When a customer searches online for your business, do they find your website? Do they see your Google My Business page, Yelp listing, etc.? How are you being presented? Is the information correct? Is your imagery flattering and appealing? Are you making people want to come and visit? How are your reviews? Are you responsive to your reviews? How do you treat your current/past clients? It all matters.

Let’s Break it Down

The Website

Let’s say your potential customer has only heard about you second hand, maybe through a friend or advertisement. They may know your website address and type it in their browser, or maybe they just know your name and “Google” it.

Right off the bat you have a golden opportunity to impress someone who is actually interested in knowing more about your business. Do you deliver? Just for example’s sake let’s say the business is Tommy’s Steakhouse*.

*This is not meant to represent a real business and is just a name to be used as an example. All identifiable information in screenshots have been blurred to protect the innocent. 

Not a bad looking website, colors are nice, however, does it deliver on what a potential customer would be looking for when visiting a restaurant website?

The website advertises “Now Open Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner”. Okay, that’s cool. Now where’s the menu? I don’t know about you but when I am looking to visit a place for the first time I like to see what they serve to see if I’m actually interested in eating there. Prices are nice too, but not always required.

I hunted around the site and could not find a menu, bummer.

Next on the list, photos. I’d like to see photos of both the inside and outside of the place. They talk about having a cool patio to eat on, hmm, no pics.

Now, will this stop me from visiting, probably not, but it will have me looking elsewhere for the answers.

Google Results

Not finding answers to all their questions about your business a potential customer may go to Google search and query there. They know the name of your business and where you are located, “Tommy’s Steakhouse {city name}”. Let’s see what kind of results this gives us:

Now, this is much better. There’s Yelp with reviews right under the website link. Along with the brand’s Facebook page and a few additional review and restaurant directory websites. There’s also the brand’s Google My Business knowledge box to the right, but we will get to that in another post.

Most online savvy users have come to trust a site like Yelp for honest reviews from real customers, which is usually the case. Let’s see what sort of experience a potential Tommy’s Steakhouse visitor can expect by seeing what folks have to say about it on Yelp.

Yelp Reviews

Well, on the plus side it would appear that the owner has claimed the listing and has filled out more detailed information about the business: hours, amenities, etc. An average consumer’s eyes are immediately drawn to the reviews. Yes, those dreaded reviews. Good reviews can help boost your bottom line, while too many bad reviews can have you with empty tables and an empty pocketbook.

Scanning through recent reviews there is a mix of two to five star ratings, but one consistent theme is there are no business responses to any of them. Leaving customers to rant or rave about the business to potential future customers and showing that the business is likely unaware or worse yet doesn’t care about its customers. This, unfortunately, is the impression left, even if it’s not the impression meant.

You may be thinking, I don’t want to respond to those bad reviews, it might make it worse. Actually, it’s no response that is even worse.

“…52 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical. 1 in 4 customers are more demanding, expecting a review response within 3 days, while 21 percent expect brands to have a response time of 24 hours or less.” ~ Review Trackers

Let’s not forget those good reviews, those 4 and 5 stars. It made you feel good to get them, right? Well, return the favor and thank that customer for leaving the review. Why? Because chances are high that that will further endure your company to them and they will be more likely to give you their business again.

Are you thinking, “sure, okay, responding to good reviews is easy, what about those bad ones?”

I got you covered.

Tips for Responding to Bad Reviews

Tip OneTake a Deep Breath

You’ve worked hard building a business, likely put your heart, sweat and soul into making it great. A bad customer review does not negate all that hard work. So, before you take that review personally, remember that this was their experience at your business at that moment. As hard as it might be you will need to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. What caused the customer to have a bad experience? Was it something you could control or not? Was it bad service? Bad food? You will need this information to go onto the next step.

Tip TwoLook Within

See if you can figure out what day the reviewer came to your business. Speak with your staff and try to get as much information as you can. If they do remember the customer maybe they can give you some insight as to why they might have had such a bad experience. This isn’t a “witch hunt”, you aren’t looking for someone to blame. Rather you are looking for areas of potential improvement with processes and how staff interact with customers.

Tip ThreeRespond Politely

Even if it was something out of your control you should begin your response with a “Thank You”. Why? Because it shows you care and value each customer. You could begin your response with something like:

Bad Service Review Example Response:

“Thank you for taking the time to share your visit with our restaurant. We value all of our customers and do our best to ensure that each have the best experience possible while they are dining with us. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention and it will be brought up at our next staff meeting. We do hope you will come visit us again.”

Bad Food Review Example Response:

“Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with the food at our restaurant. I am sad to hear that you did not enjoy the prime rib. It is one of our most popular dishes, but maybe you caught us on an off day. I have had a word with our staff and cooks to make sure that each dish is delivered as ordered. We do hope you will come visit us again.”

Wrapping Up

While you can’t control every experience or impression a potential customer has with your business, you can control some of them. From your website to your owned social pages, to your online business listings, you have an opportunity to provide the very best impression of just how awesome your business really is and why they should visit it. So, start responding to those reviews as often as you are able, you will find it really is worth the time, and not so scary.

If you simply don’t have the time to commit we’d be more than happy to help, contact us today about our review management services.

Passionate about digital marketing and helping small businesses succeed online, Shannon has over 15 years of online marketing experience. She loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them become better marketers.