This is not about managing reviews; this is about the technical detail of how to write that reply. Because it matters an awful lot and so many businesses get it wrong.
A review platform is not a good place for resolutions. It is a place for consumers to judge brands.
When a customer leaves a bad review, we need to move them to a place where we can provide a resolution, like email or phone.
That means the biggest deal when answering a review is not the reviewer. It’s everybody else.
Ordering your review answer
We do want to reply to reviews in a way that helps the customer who has an issue…but we also want to protect our brand. I see this as clarity. It’s clarity for the reviewer, but also clarity on the brand’s position.
Things you want the world to know should be dealt with first so it’s prominent as they scan the page. Most people read the first few words of a paragraph, so front-load your message. Make sure you don’t reply with a big block of overwhelming text – no one will read it. Paragraphs!
Hi [Name], so sorry to hear you’re confused about how the product works. Your pet cam definitely isn’t a live feed to our office.
The data is stored securely in the cloud and never comes into contact with a human other than you.
If you’d like more help with this, please contact us at email@example.com.
From a customer service point of view, a review site is at best a notice of discontent. Issues beyond a misunderstanding can rarely be solved on this kind of platform, so our job when we answer reviews is to get that person where they need to be.
Usually, directing to a customer service email (like in the example above) is enough, and most people won’t bother asking for help as they merely wanted to let off steam. It shows the world that you are happy to help the customer further but it’s up to them if they take you up on it.
However, a serious complaint may require follow-up, so more specific direction or options should be given. Customer information on review sites is limited but there may be admin view-only info you can use to track down the customer.
Unique review answers
Never, ever, rely on stock answers. Copy-paste does not work here. Every review needs a unique answer, not just because the customer deserves a considered response, but also because it reflects so poorly on a business if every review has the same answer. I can’t emphasise enough how bad that looks.
This is such an important part of your brand – the space in which your brand is tested and could be found wanting.
Consistency of message
It can help to have a small number of people responsible for answering reviews, so they keep things consistent without relying on stock answers.
We want to reinforce our brand and marketing messages in our answers, because this IS another brand platform. We can sell here; it’s marketing, not just customer service.
The difference is that a customer service platform has a dialogue. A review site is not for that – it’s designed to help businesses and consumers in the buying phase. That means we want to be reiterating our buying messages for visitors, as well as answering customers and directing them to a customer service channel as needed.
Echo the party line. Highlight features and benefits. Use brand phrases and product names, tone of voice and values. Reference the website.
It’s marketing, yo! We’re paying for it, so let’s use it.