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How to Respond to Online Reviews

You’re a business owner, so the concept of customers leaving reviews about your work is no foreign concept to you, but it’s time to ask yourself a question: do you really know how to respond to these reviews?

You might think you’re doing fine with the positive reviews you receive, but you’re stumped when it comes to negative reviews. Maybe you’re one of those people who just feel a little unsure about the entire process. Luckily for you, we’ve got tips that are going to make you seem like an expert!

Responding to online reviews is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. At iMarket Solutions, we have a team specializing in review management for contractors and we’ll help you understand everything you need to know.  

The Value of Online Reviews

As you know, the Internet has changed the way consumers interact with the HVAC and Plumbing industries. Previously, word-of-mouth moved business. Word-of-mouth is still important, and as of 2017, about 93% of consumers rely on online reviews to inform their purchase decisions. Moreover, about 97% of people read reviews for local businesses when looking for systems or services. These types of statistics are impactful, so you need to make sure the online reviews you receive reflect your business accurately, and if they don’t, you know how to address them properly.

Online reviews have SEO value too. The reviews you receive across platforms have a direct impact on your SEO results, the visibility of your website, and your leads and customer conversions too. Over time, your positive reviews can boost your online presence and bad reviews can weigh it down. So now that you understand the varying importance of reviews, let’s get into how to handle them!

The Good, the Bad, and How to Handle Both

The world of reviews is often a puzzling one, but we’re here to guide you through what you need to know.

Let’s start with the best-case situation—your customer leaves you a glittering 5-star review. You’re ecstatic… but you don’t want to leave them hanging… what’s the right way to respond?

  1. Show Some Appreciation: We can really focus on the negative when it comes to review management but it’s important to acknowledge the positive too. If your customer showed you some appreciation, then make sure you acknowledge this and show them you’re grateful.
  2. Acknowledge Them (by name is best!): It’s always best to acknowledge a customer by name. If the customer’s name is available, make sure you use it in your greeting. A generic “hi,” “hello,” or “hey there” should only be your go-to if the username is clearly not the customer’s actual name.
  3. Make Things Easy for Your Customers: Dropping in a mention of your service area or phone number is great for your SEO value and it makes it easy for any potential customers searching your reviews online to see they’re in your service area and contact you at a glance.

So what does this look like? Here’s an example:

Hi [Customer Name],

We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us! We’re so happy we were able to come out and service your air conditioner. We loved what you had to say about our technicians and the work we performed. We’re so glad to hear you’re satisfied with our performance and response times. It’s customers like you that allow us to continually improve our business.

We look forward to helping you and other homeowners just like you in [Service Area]. Feel free to reach out to us again. You can always reach us at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

Now, let’s cover something a little less pleasant—the dreaded negative review. There’s no need to panic. We understand this is quite the stress inducing situation, but it doesn’t have to be when you have the right knowledge and resources. Here’s a quick rundown of the best steps to take:

  1. Gather Yourself: You’ve just read a pretty harsh review and it might leave you a little flustered. Take a moment to gather yourself before you even think of responding. Trying to craft a reply when you’re in the heat of the moment isn’t wise. You want to be as level-headed as possible when your fingers hit the keyboard. So take a minute to gather your facts: read the review, gather your thoughts, and note all the pertinent information (date of service, technician sent to the job, service rendered, etc.) you need.
  2. Thank Your Customer: We know it might seem a little counterintuitive to thank a customer for giving you a negative review, but it’s a great way to de-escalate the situation. Additionally, if you’re really looking at things with a glass-half-full attitude, a negative review is the starting point for an in-depth assessment of your business.
  3. Address the Legitimate Concerns: Sometimes customers can be downright incendiary when they’re frustrated—don’t fall into the trap of becoming reactionary. Instead, make sure you’re only addressing what’s relevant and taking the necessary steps to undo any wrongs. Additionally, you never want to ask a customer to take a review down.

If the claims they’ve made are baseless, then there are steps you can take to get this review taken down but asking the customer to do so could quickly escalate the situation into a hostile one. Instead, you can address the situation and ask the individual for an update on their post after they’re satisfied. Alternatively, you can respond to the post on your own after you fully resolve the situation.

  1. Help Them Get in Contact with You: You want to mention your service area, phone number, and even an email for your customer to get in touch with your team. This serves a different purpose than it does when you drop in these details in response to a positive review. When you put these details in a negative review, it’s going to help the customer leaving the review get in touch with you as easily as possible.
  2.  Keep It Short and Sweet: Make sure you’re not rambling on when you reply to a review. You want to address what’s relevant, present your case, and wrap it up. Don’t try to make excuses—just handle what you can and allow the customer to make the next step.

Here’s an illustration of what this could look like:

Hello [Customer Name],

We’re sorry to hear about this less than satisfactory experience, but we’re grateful you wrote this review and brought this misstep to our attention. We understand your frustrations and agree this is unacceptable.

It’s important to us that we always provide great service, so we’d like to rectify this situation as soon as possible. We’ll reach out today, or you can contact us directly at XXX-XXX-XXXX or [email] if this is more convenient.”

The Takeaway

Responding to reviews can seem a little difficult, but it’s a necessary part of managing your online reputation. Keeping all the things we’ve mentioned above in mind is what’s going to help you overall. Once you have a few helpful tips in the back of your mind and a concrete plan of action to handle future reviews, things won’t seem so scary. You’ll craft your own voice and style in these situations over time, but the tips we’ve listed above are the basics to any great review management approach. Make sure you learn from your successes, mistakes, and ask for help from our review management specialists when you need it.

Learn more about our review management services and more by contacting iMarket Solutions today. We are dedicated to contractor success!

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