A good review deserves a worthy response.
If a happy customer decides to leave you an amazing review, you're going to need to respond in some way. If you respond well, these reviews can easily become evergreen tools that spur more and more customers to respond in kind.
What's an appropriate way to respond?
We're going to look at that now, taking a closer look at the responses that make a praiseworthy review even better.
Let's dive in.
First, you need to know your review elements
Understanding the components of a positive review is essential to crafting a response that builds on your existing success.
A positive review has (at least) four essential components:
1. Experience. The overall experience customers have with an individual business. This can be positive, neutral or negative. A customer's experience is largely guided by unseen factors (e.g. psychological health, mental schemas, past experiences and met/unmet expectations).
2. Response. A business' positive, neutral or negative response to a customer's experience. This is essentially boiled down to a simple idea: "When X happened, [company] responded by doing Y."
3. Helpfulness. This measures the helpfulness of a particular review. Does the reviewer offer clear and concise details outlining their experience or events? Is it easy for readers to reconstruct a customer's experience in their own mind?
4. Advice. What sort of advice does the reviewer offer? Is it offered to the business, management, specific employees or to readers reading their review?
These aren't requirements (obviously). But, they're details you should keep in mind when responding to a particular customer's positive review.
Another thing to keep in mind?
Every business is different. Every business has its own approach, culture, tone and voice. This means that you’re going to need to take the time to customize these responses for your business. The idea here is to treat these templates as a framework or general guide for your team and less like a script that absolutely must be followed.
With that in mind, let's take a look at our first response.
Response template #1: The happy/unhappy customer
The happy/unhappy customer is mostly happy. They've left a positive (four or five star) review. But there are still a few sticking points these altruistic customers feel compelled to share.
Here's an example:
A glowing review isn't always full of flattery and praise.
Sometimes, it's the opposite.
Sometimes an amazing review has elements that are disappointing or discouraging to the business owner. Businesses often make the mistake of ignoring these minor details in their response, choosing to focus exclusively on the positives.
This is a mistake.
Here's a template you can use to respond to your happy/unhappy customers.
Dear [Reviewer Name],
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. We want you to feel comfortable sharing good or bad news with us. I'm so sorry that your [visit/experience] with us fell short of expectations. I also want to thank you for giving us a chance to make things right.
We're using your feedback to make some important changes:[Specific yet concise list of changes]
I'm pleased we were able to make things better and I hope we see you again soon.[Manager name | contact number]
Why it works:
This template uses a few specific ingredients to boost reader trust, credibility and admiration even further. Let's look at how you did it:
1. You thanked them for sharing. This isn't easy to do, it can be stressful and difficult for customers to be open and honest.
2. Acknowledgment and empathy. Your response didn't invalidate, omit or ignore your customers problem. Your response faces it head on, acknowledging mistakes were made. Think maximum empathy and zero excuse making.
3. Action steps and specificity. You're showing reviewers and potential customers that (a.) You're trustworthy and interested in their business and (b.) You're eager and willing to do what it takes to take care of them.
See what I did there?
Response template #2: Happy but difficult to please
Some customers are difficult to please.
This customer gave the hotel a four-star rating. It's still a great review but a large portion of it is centered around details the hotel had no idea about and weren't given the opportunity to fix.
You've most likely experienced this.
You do everything right for your customer. Everything is done by the book. Your customer seemingly has a positive experience but still refuses to give you the full five stars.
Here's a template you can use to respond to these "happy and satisfied" customers.
Dear [Reviewer Name],
It was a pleasure serving you [and your family]. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and being so open with us.
I'm glad you felt [reiterate positives they mentioned].
We hope you'll come and see us again soon![Manager name | contact number]
Why it works:
This is the time to ignore the details you can't (or shouldn't) try to control. If you're dealing with a positive yet slightly unreasonable customer, this will be evident in their review. There's no need for you to point in out. There's no need to argue or become defensive with your reviewer.
Choose gratitude instead.
Make a note about this particular customer in your CRM system. Tag them, then be sure to go above and beyond the next time you see them.
Response template #3: The customer evangelist
Your customer evangelists are true believers. You have an extended relationship with these customers. They love, admire and engage with your business on a regular basis.
Give them what they need.
Their need is implicit, you hold a special place in their hearts so it's important that you show them they hold a special place in yours.
Here's a template you can use to do just that:
We're happy that you're happy, and we're looking forward to your next visit.
Hurry back![Manager name | contact number]
Why it works:
This reviewer shows their customer relationship with you isn't like all the others. They know, like and trust you. They're a fan of your business and they depend on you. There's a real relationship here. Ignoring their review is a serious missed opportunity.
It's far more likely to produce hurt.
Take the time to acknowledge your customer evangelists whenever and wherever you can. Make continual deposits in your relationship bank and relationships with these evangelists will continue to blossom.
Response template #4: The professional reviewer
This reviewer isn't like your average reviewer. These reviewers are diverse - entrepreneurs, bloggers, or a customer with a considerable amount of clout. It could be an influencer or power broker.
These reviewers have one of three things (1.) reach or access to a considerable amount of people in your target audience (2.) an active and engaged audience of their own or (3.) the ability to connect with millions of other people on a powerful, established or well known platform.
This requires a nuanced, multi-faceted approach.
Here's a template you can use with these professionals:
Dear [Reviewer Name],
Thanks very much for your balanced and fair review of [business name]. I'm glad you felt [positive detail from their review] was well done. It's something we've worked hard on and we're pleased our efforts resonated with you.
I also want to thank you for your feedback and criticisms. We've taken your thoughts to heart and we're planning on making some internal changes based on your recommendations.
I appreciate your kind words and professional demeanor and look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
Best,[Manager name | contact number]
If you're dealing with a professional there's a good chance they're using social media to promote their work. You can share your direct messages, status updates or tweets with them directly. Be sure to add a link to your full response (see above), like this:
.@[twitter handle] thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback with us. We're grateful for your honest feedback and we're glad you feel we're on the right track! [li.nk/t0yo45c0n7ent]
Why it works:
The reality here is it's all about gratitude. Even if you paid for positive exposure gratitude is still the appropriate response. These professionals didn't have to write a positive review. They didn't have to share their honest feedback with you.
But they did.
They took the time out of their busy schedule to build your organization up. To spread the word about the great things you're doing for those you serve.
Respond with gratitude.
Meet these professionals where they are whether they're on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Post your long form response to their reviews on your website as a blog post or a comment to their review. Accept their gift, then give some more.
Find a tangible way to say thank you.
It could be a card, a nice bottle of wine or an inexpensive gift delivered to them after the fact.
What if these don’t work?
What if these responses don’t strike quite the right tone or voice with reviewers? Is there anything you can do to craft an appropriate, relationship building response?
Focus on a formula.
Response = Gratitude x (Mirroring + Feedback + Specificity)
Let’s break this down.
Your response is made up of four distinct components.
Use this formula to craft the perfect response.
These components give you the tools you need to give your responses structure and impact without coming off as pretentious, disinterested or ungrateful. It gives you the foundation you need to improve your relationship with your reviewers and new customers visiting your business for the first time.
Which is precisely the kind of response your business needs.
A good review deserves a worthy response
It's a high status way to acknowledge your customer's contribution. A positive and appropriate response to a thoughtful review is necessary. It becomes an evergreen tool that automatically attracts more of these high-value customers to you.
Your goal is simple.
Make your customers praiseworthy review even better than it already is. Find a way to express genuine gratitude, to empathize with your customers feelings, struggles and concerns.
Show them you're listening.
With the right review elements you'll have what you need to create a compelling and noteworthy response.