Online reviews have become a huge part of digital marketing. They act as a business’s reputation online. Consumers use reviews from Google, Yelp, and Facebook to make purchase decisions daily and trust them just as much as word of mouth. Because online reviews and their platforms have such an impact on business, it is frustrating to see a negative review pop up, especially since there isn’t much you can do to prevent those reviews (aside from continuing to provide great care).There is, however, one aspect that you as a business owner do have control over: your response.

Responding to a review lets the review writer know that their feedback is being heard and considered. Replying also gives you the opportunity to show off your great customer service and explain any negative experiences. 

A good response can start with a framework of three main pieces: a thank you, an apology or explanation, and a request to continue the conversation offline. Once your framework is in place, you can add to it to make the response sincere. If the pet passed, make sure that you include sympathies for their loss. You can also add any personal details to make sure that the reader knows that it’s not a copy-and-paste response. For example, you can mention the pet’s breed or name.

  • Thank the reviewer: The “thank you” portion should thank the review writer for taking the time to leave you this feedback. You wouldn’t have the chance to make things right if they hadn’t left their review!
  • Apologize and explain: The second part should be an apology or an explanation. Even if the complaint was out of the hospital’s control, an apology is still the best bet to make the customer happy. You can then explain any policies or situations if it would help anyone reading along understand what really happened. For example, if the complaint was about cost, you can mention that you offer Care Credit. It’s important to note in this part that because the response is public, you should make sure that you come across as empathetic and apologetic. It’s easy to get defensive, especially when you know that you take great care of your customers. Keep any explanation you choose to include brief, and avoid accusing the client of anything unless they were very out of line.
  • Take the conversation offline: The last part should be an invitation to continue the conversation offline. Saying something like, “We’d like to know more about your experience. Would you mind giving us a call?” will let anyone reading along know that you really care about the feedback you get and want to follow through, even if the client doesn’t end up getting in touch.

Not only does responding to your reviews look good to the review writer, but it also looks great to anyone who happens to look up your business and your reviews. Making sure that you have an effective response to negative feedback is one great way to start taking control of your online reputation. Need help managing your negative reviews? Beyond Indigo can help!

Cassie Pearson is an online reputation management (ORM) specialist at Beyond Indigo Pets.

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