Episode 4: Reviews – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Join Erin & Carrie as they talk about how to deal with responding to reviews in the new online landscape. Every review should be responded to, the good ones, the bad ones, and the really UGLY ones.
Tips & tactics for how to craft a great response that extends the interaction with your customers & clients.

Intro/Outro: 00:05 Welcome to the community karma podcast with Erin Jones and Carrie Hill. Join in as they discuss building community branding and how any business can benefit from a holistic approach to grow.

Carrie: 00:21 Hello everybody. Welcome to episode four of the community karma podcast, the good, the bad and the ugly as we promised last week. We’re going to talk about responding to reviews this week. I am Carrie Hill and she is Erin Jones. Hi. Hi Erin.

Erin: 00:38 Hello Carrie.

Carrie: 00:41 So if you listened last week and if you didn’t, maybe press pause and go listen to last week’s podcast. That’s sort of a part two, I would call it. We talked last week about how to ask for reviews and how to solicit reviews from your customers and clients. And this week we wanted to talk about how to respond to those reviews, whether they’re good or bad because every single review, if the platform allows it should have a response from the business. Right, Erin? I think it should. Yeah,

Erin: 01:16 I agree. Not only should it have a response, it should have a, a gracious personal response. So you should be thanking them for taking the time to, to comment or review you and thanking them for using your business regardless of if they’re happy or unhappy with you. You know, one really, really great way to show not only the person who has reviewed you but other people reading the review that you’re listening and that you’ll hear them is that you thank them for taking the time to leave their feedback,regardless of if it’s good feedback or negative feedback. And, and there is a difference between bad feedback and ugly reviews, right?

Carrie: 02:00 Well, and that feeds into the you know, you’re not necessarily writing your response just for that one customer, right? You’re writing your response to a review for all of the people that follow that read reviews before they make a decision on who to hire and who not to hire. And so the more gracious and appreciative you sound towards your customers, the more future customers can picture themselves doing business with you and having a good experience, right? It’s about the psychology of it. And

Erin: 02:35 Some of these reviewers are gonna come along and read this response years after the initial review or has moved on. So you definitely want to be personable. You want to be kind. You know, this leads into what we were going to talk about, about not scripting review responses. You want each response to be as personable as possible if they didn’t mention, you know, the person in their that they worked with or the product that they bought. You know, mentioned it in your response. As long as it’s not an overly personal business that you’re running, you don’t want to, you know, have any HIPAA violations or embarrass anyone online. But, you know, say we’re so glad to see you, you know, in our auto repair shop last Tuesday, we loved working on your vehicle, that name and then name what kind of vehicle. Absolutely. Thanks for bringing your Audi in, Erin. Yeah. Get, get personal with them and, and let them know that you’re not just going in and saying thank you. Thank you. Thank you to every response that you see on a review platform. You’re taking the time to make sure that they got what they needed and that you look forward to seeing them again.

Carrie: 03:43 For sure. Absolutely. And and continuing that conversation, like we said last week, a lot of customers expect their relationship with the business to end once they pay the bill. Right. Well, I paid, I’ll never hear from them again. And if you really want to develop as a community and a customer base and brand advocates extending that relationship beyond payment, this is one way to do it. Because on some platforms like Google, when you respond to that review, the person who left the review gets an email that says, Hey, such and such business responded to your review. And they’ll go read that and feel all the warm fuzzies about it. Right. And so the next week when somebody says, Oh, I got an a fender bender, I need a body shop. I don’t know who to talk to. They’ll go, Oh, I just did business with so and so two weeks ago. They’re great because you’ve extended that conversation with them, right?

Erin: 04:36 Yes. They know my name. They remembered me from when I came in and they were nice to me after I paid my bill. You know, some brands don’t care once they get the check. If you’re one of those brands,maybe this will sway your opinion. This is how you get more business without spending money on advertising. Right? So they a great way to enhance your community’s perception of your brand by being genuine and authentic. You know, definitely be genuine and authentic. You don’t want to speak in a very formal tone if your business is, you know, a biker bar downtown, but you also want to make sure that you’re using correct grammar. Don’t use text speak. Make sure that your response fits the vibe of your brand while still being appropriate.

Carrie: 05:22 Yeah, for sure. And, and you know, I think if you, you know, if you’re one person and you’re responding to all of your reviews and you say, Hey, it’s Terry here because everybody who does business with you knows who Terry is because Terry’s the one who schedules the appointments and takes the money and whatever. Hey Terry here, thanks so much for coming in last week. We really appreciate your business, et cetera, et cetera. Then,you know, they feel a lot better about, heir interaction with your business and you have maintained the voice of your business. Now, some bigger corporations might have multiple people who answer reviews. Maybe it’s shift work or whatever, something like that. And, and in that case, you know, Erin and I kind of played a little bit of devil’s advocate on this. What do we call that? The clap back? Yeah. should you should, whoever is responding to the review sign it and I sort of think you should, if it’s multiple people responding like it, they should know who responded, right? Your customers should know who responded.

Erin: 06:34 And I agree within reason. If you have one small local business that the brand itself has taken on a personality within your community,responding as that brand is appropriate. However, if you have a large business or like Carrie said, shift work where you have a great team that’s responding around the clock and it would not be authentic or believable to think that you’ve got one poor person locked in a basement somewhere responding to things 24, seven, absolutely signed some names. So you know, again, it’s just one more step towards that authenticity and that transparency so people know who they’re talking to, they know that it’s believable. And again, you know, we’ve talked about this I think every week since we started reminding them that there are real people on the other side of the screen because people are going to be much more kind and much more reasonable if they remember that they’re dealing with people,

Carrie: 07:28 Right? Versus a corporate brand that doesn’t have a, they don’t associate an actual human being with for sure. So the 54 $64,000 question, whatever that old show was,what do you do if you get a bad one? What happened? Do you do?

Erin: 07:45 My first recommendation where the client is step away from the keyboard. Yeah. Before you do anything, you need to sit down and you need to dissect what happened. Where are we in the wrong, what happened here? What can we do to make it right? And until you’ve got those questions answered, you should not be typing or calling or contacting anyone.

Carrie: 08:09 I agree. I think that the biggest mistake you can make is to make a knee jerk response to a bad review because you don’t know without research whose fault it was. Yeah.

Erin: 08:21 Do you have a hot head CEO who wants to just start a fight? Don’t let them, please don’t give them the password if you’re worried that that’s gonna happen.

Carrie: 08:29 Yep. For sure. And, and you know, this kind of goes back to what we talked about in,our second episode, hich was have a plan. Don’t wait until you get a bad review and throw your hands up in the air and go, what do I do? You should have a plan. Here’s what we do. If we get a negative review, we really hope it doesn’t happen. But if we do, here’s what we’re going to do. And so some tips are for sure step, investigate the problem. Who was involved? Get everybody’s side of the story, figure out what’s wrong. Was it something on your side? Was it something on the customer’s side? Can you fix it? Can you make it better? You know, do all of your due diligence, then, dn’t be afraid to sleep on it. I think a quality response in that case is better than a fast response.

Erin: 09:19 Absolutely. And as long as you’re not sleeping on it for a week and a half, you know, if you need to take some time, it’s also perfectly acceptable to leave response to a review that says, Hey, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We’re doing a little bit of homework on this and we will be in touch shortly.

Carrie: 09:37 Oh. Or leave your phone number and say, you know, we’ll be in touch shortly if you have any, if you have questions, give me a call. Like make it personal, the manager’s name and phone number or something like that. So that

Erin: 09:50 In a direct line do not put them into a phone tree because that is just going to piss them off.

Carrie: 09:56 Yep. Absolutely. I agree with that. The other thing that I recommend people do is when they do write their response, have somebody else look at it at least one, somebody else, at least one. Yeah, definitely.

Erin: 10:08 And you know, another thing about the research process helped with is sometimes, especially in local service industries, a lot of brand names sound like you’ve got, you know, AAA heating and air air, a plus air services, whatever. Make sure that this review was actually one of your customers. And I’m not talking about someone who’s trying to troll you or, or hurt your reputation. But I have actually had a client who got a bad review from someone who was just raging about an experience they had and we found out that it was actually, they posted on the wrong website. And luckily our interaction with them, we ended up earning a customer out of the deal because we took time to figure out what was going on. You know, let them know who they should have been contacting and we’re able to actually turn it into a sale, which was fantastic.

Erin: 11:01 So another tip we have is if you can fix this, even if it costs you a little bit of time and money, it’s probably gonna save you a lot of money in the long run because you’re either going to save that customer or save those people who are reading these reviews that you know, come later, like we talked about last week. So even if you are in the wrong, if this person is going off and having a huge fit and swearing at you and you can respond with a level head and be professional and still be personable and kind, you may earn business from other people reading that even if you lose this customer. So don’t take the bait, do not engage, you know, if someone is trying to start a fight with you, if you can take it offline, but at a minim don’t engage.

Carrie: 11:48 Yeah, for sure. I think, you know, I have a client that’s a locksmith and occasion they’re for having lots of names that sound the same, especially starting with the letter a very common cause. Somebody told them back in the old phone book days, if you name your business, starting with an a, so there’s like a, a locksmith and you’re the first person they call, right? So he actually got a really bad review and he called me and he’s like, I don’t know what to do. I’m so glad he called me. And I said, well, well, wat happened? And he says, it’s not even one of my customers, like are in a part of, he works in a, a portion of a Metro area. And he’s like, they’re not even from where I do work. And I said, okay, so here’s what you do.

Carrie: 12:39 You respond and say, I’m sorry, so and so whatever their name is. I’ve looked in all of my records and I don’t have a record of doing business in your area or for anybody with your name, but I want to make it right. Please call me and we’ll work it out. And he’s, he, he’s done that in a couple instances. The person reviewing never responded to him. I think they were probably embarrassed cause they posted on the wrong,co companies review page or whatever. But to future people it looks like will really wants to solve the problem. But it also looks to them like this was a troll or somebody who just posted in the wrong spot. Right. I’m not saying that you should use that if that’s not the case, that’s not a tactic for deflecting, but if it’s truly not somebody that was your customer, you can state that and your response. Right?

Erin: 13:36 Yeah. And it also shows that you’re willing to be helpful to someone that you didn’t make money off of which generates Goodwill in the community because you’re taking a minute to try to help someone solve a problem that you really had no part in.

Carrie: 13:49 Right. And, and, and you know, it shows a future customer, you know, you’re willing to do what it takes to, to fix a problem. So they know if they decided to do business with you, even if it may be, doesn’t go 100% smooth, there’s an Avenue for fixing it. Right?

Erin: 14:04 Yeah. And this is especially critical in industries that traditionally may not have great customer service or a perception of great customer service. So if you have a, a mechanic or you know, a gun shop or somewhere that people are used to just buying what they need and going on with their day, if you go the extra mile, that is going to do amazing things for your business because it’s unexpected service. So they’re getting what they expect, but then they’re getting a level above it, which is fantastic. You know, the same thing is happening with review responses. Instead of just saying thanks for your review,you’re saying we had a great experience with you, we can’t wait to do business with you again. Those warm fuzzies are contagious. And if you’re putting that out there, then you’re probably gonna get some of it now.

Carrie: 14:51 Right.

Erin: 14:51 And so you’re extending that conversation and you’re creating that, that brand advocate and that community of people who would recommend you, which is the point, right? Like that’s, that’s why we have community karma. We put good things out into our community and we hope we get good things back from all the, you know, the good things that we do. I, I always like your quote. I think you said it at Pubcon this year was, f you wouldn’t say it to your grandma, don’t put it online, AKA, don’t say it to your customers. So if your response is not something that you would say to your grandma, don’t post it right? This, this you, you’re putting a piece of you out on the internet and the internet have very long memories. So you know, remember, don’t be inauthentic, but remember your audience and take that into account when you’re crafting a response.

Erin: 15:44 And another thing that you want to do is kind of match your tone to the tone of the reviewer. And I don’t mean positive or negative so much, but if they use short sentences you know, more simple verbiage, whether they’re in a hurry or you know, it may be someone who is using English as a second language or isn’t as advanced in the grammar department. Don’t respond to them with a paragraph and a wall of text because they’re not going to read it. That said, if someone does send you a review that that does use, you know, big words and it’s very detailed, respond with detail because people tend to respond better when you match them in tone and length of posts and things. Again, don’t lose your authenticity. That’s kind of a, a next level tactic that we can dive into at another time. But the visual that people are seeing a genuine side of you,

Carrie: 16:38 You know, that goes back to what we talked about with crafting your ask. So use the words that you want them, you want in the review and your ask. We talked about that last week. So then in your response you use the words that they used in their response, whether it’s deep, long words or superficial. Hey, thanks. Kind of words, you know,I think that that, you know, not only is it about using psychology to solicit the response you want, but it’s about understanding the psychology of the response and responding in, in a like tone, right?

Erin: 17:18 Yeah. And that it enhances your connection with them. You know, this doesn’t have anything to do with reviews, but you should also be doing that in email and phone correspondence with your customers. And definitely in face to face if, if your customer is not a touchy feely huggy person, stay out of their bubble. You know, and this is, this is stuff that will really help generate,confidence and good feeling between the two of you. And that should carry through the whole engagement with this client. So all the way through the review process,

Carrie: 17:48 Think about those sales salesman, good salesman. No, if they talk over their potential client’s head, they’re probably not going to sell the product. Right. Because I don’t understand a thing you said. And I’m not writing you a check if I don’t know what I’m buying. You know, it’s the same thing. I’m not going to say nice positive things about you if I think you’re condescending or talking over over my level. You know, be nice, be kind. The, the tenants I think of building a community and, and encouraging your brand advocates is be kind, you know, een if it was a terrible review and you know, let’s hop in. Let’s talk about the ugly. Let’s talk about the trolls that people, you’re never gonna make happy and the people who who are out of line.

Erin: 18:35 Yeah, yeah. First thing I want to say to that, if you can’t take it offline, you need to know when to cut bait because every time you respond to a review or have an engagement on a review, a lot of platforms that are going to bump that review back to the top of the list. So if it’s not something you want people looking at, again, step away from the keyboard, you know, when it’s not going to get any farther. And with these troll reviews, you really want to craft your responses. Again, not to the troll, but to the other people reading. So show your audience that you’re the one with the level head and you’re the one that’s being reasonable and let them formulate their own opinions about the troll.

Carrie: 19:14 Well, and if you’ve gotten the review, you’ve done your due diligence. They were a client. Yeah. Dropped the ball. Own it. We really dropped the ball. I’m so sorry. Let’s have a conversation about what we can do to make it better. Give me a call. Here’s my direct line. I want to make it better. Period. End of discussion. Right,

Erin: 19:36 And then, and then make it better.

Carrie: 19:38 Yeah. Then actually follow through and make it better.

Erin: 19:41 Come in. Absolutely. That, that’s how you earn that business back. Another one of my Pubcon slides actually says a happy customer. I wish I had it in front of me. I believe a happy customer tells five people about their experience and we’ve all heard that an unhappy customer tells 10. However,the stat that’s often left off of that statement is that a restituted customer will tell 20, so you actually are going to get more mileage out of a customer that you may have screwed up with but then made things right than if you just did it perfectly from the beginning. Everybody loves a good comeback

Carrie: 20:16 For sure. And I think that that that goes into that I feel taken care of, right? That I matter. They cared about my business, they did what they could to make it. Right. Now there are trolls out there who leave false reviews or ours, the daughter of a competitor and they left a nasty review or whatever. And you know, can you get reviews removed? You can from certain platforms. Sometimes it is not easy. And so there is a time, like Erin said, when you have to decide to cut bait and just let it go and concentrate on getting those good reviews. But if there is a way to prove that it maybe it was an ex employee and their LinkedIn profile shows that they used to work for you, ou can report, sme reviews to Facebook or Google and say, Hey, this was an ex employee.

Carrie: 21:11 Here is public information that proves they used to work here. It has to be pumped for Google. It has to be public information, like a link that they can go to. It can’t be like your employment records. That’s not public, that doesn’t work. But if they’ve listed on LinkedIn that they’re a former employee of your company and they then they leave a bad review on your Google business listing you can get that removed. But it’s time consuming. Google can always say no if they don’t really hold much faith in the proof that you give them. And so you kind of have to decide, do I pursue this or do I just let it go and worry about being awesome for my clients? And that’ll just go, it’ll push down the page and go away. You have to kind of decide when, when to push. And you know when to fold and move on.

Erin: 22:01 Yeah. And I, you know, I typically recommend encouraging my clients customers to go for five new good reviews instead of trying to fight the one bad one. Just because it can be costly, it’s time consuming and it doesn’t always work. And sometimes you actually end up shining a spotlight on the review you’re trying to get rid of. So, you know, you need to be really be ready to go into battle if you’re going to try to get something reviewed or removed. And another thing that I would like to mention, some brands can get away with this but most cannot. So be very careful if you’re going to try to call somebody out in a review because if you’re wrong, you’ve got a whole lot of egg on your face.

Carrie: 22:41 Well, and they can respond back and, and you know, with receipts as they,

Erin: 22:46 Right, unless you have a brand that people kind of thrive on you being a little bit more gritty and confrontational, I really, really tend to shy away from that tactic

Carrie: 22:57 For sure. I agree. So let’s say you got a bad review and you fixed it and everybody’s happy, your customers no longer mad. Can you ask them to edit the review that they left?

Erin: 23:11 I say yes. There, there are some bucks here though. You want to make sure that not only you fixed it, but that you have turned them around enough that they’re going to be willing to now say good things about your brand. Because again, if you, if they’re still frustrated, even though you fixed it, because let’s be honest, some people are never happy. Then you’re shining that spotlight back on the issue again. So, and, and especially if they come back and leave another comment and say, and now they’re asking me to change my review. Yeah. you know, that can look sad. Yeah. Even if even if you didn’t ask in a bad way, they can make you look bad. So, yu know, Carrie, I know we talked about this earlier, but face to face or a phone call is definitely the best way to approach this because you can kind of take a better temperature of the conversation. You know, levels of personal in a communication face to face, you’re going to get the most feedback both verbally and non-verbally. So that’s a really good way to say, Hey, are we good here? Another thing I’ve done when I know someone is happy is I’ll respond to the review publicly and say, Hey, I know you got your replacement item last week. Just wanted to check in and make sure that everything went great from there on out.

Carrie: 24:27 Right. That’s a great tactic.

Erin: 24:29 Yeah. They’ll either respond and say, yes, this is exactly what I needed. Thank you. And sometimes they’ll change their review if they’re a more savvy internet user. A lot of times though, they’re not going to go, no, I’m still mad even though you fixed it because then again, they look silly.

Carrie: 24:43 Right. For sure. That’s a great tactic. I didn’t think about that one. That’s, that’s a good idea. Like posting one more response saying how you cured the problem. You remedied things. Even if they never respond or if they weren’t, they’re still not 100% happy for you. Again, these responses are not just for the person who left the review in the first place. So

Erin: 25:06 Situation you can say, Hey, I’m, you know, I know we we messed up and we’re so sorry about that. People love reading that by the way, if you’re willing to say, Oh my gosh, this is so embarrassing, we are so sorry, but we got the new product out. We hope you love it. Like curious. So even if no one responds, people are reading that go, wow, they’re really on point.

Carrie: 25:30 And on top of it, I think that that it shows a a willingness to interact and uthe desire to make it right no matter what. Which is quite frankly from retail to service to anybody. That’s what you want when you hire a company to, or a person to do something for you. You just want to know that at the end of it you got what works. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what you envisioned because your vision wasn’t right. In this case, like, I don’t know what a new furnace system looks like. I don’t have any clue, but my house is warmer and my bill is lower. Yay me. Those are the things I want in the end. And so I think that there’s something to be said with setting that expectation for future customers via those responses. I think that’s a great tactic.

Erin: 26:22 Yeah, we’re gonna jump on it and we’re going to make it right. And then we’re going to follow up. You know, again, even if people aren’t thinking that consciously, subconsciously, these are things that people notice. And when people have a million choices, especially with the way the internet is now in the social internet, you have got to show why you’re the best. And one of the ways to be the best is to be likable. And the easiest way to be likable is to have a great social presence. Whether that be or I’m sorry, a local presence, whether that be on social media, in your local community. If people know you as generally likable and know that you do a good job, then they’re going to pick you over the competition.

Carrie: 26:59 Yeah, absolutely. I want her to percent agree with that. So the TLDR of this, although we hope you all listened to the whole thing was say thank you, don’t script your responses. Stay consistent with your brand’s voice. If you get a bad review, don’t be afraid to sleep on it. Get a second opinion on the response. Don’t say something that you wouldn’t say to your grandma. You’re writing your responses for not just this customer, but for future customers. If you get a troll, decide when you should bet or fold. Right. And when you fix it, not if, when you fix it, whether it’s given them all their money back or fixing whatever the product or service was. Respond with a, Hey, we hope everything’s okay. And maybe that will prompt them to adjust their review. That’s your TLDR, right?

Erin: 28:00 Yes. Yep. And, and don’t forget to respond to every review. Even if you just are giving it a quick like and circling back to respond later. Make sure that you give everyone that personal touch and follow up.

Carrie: 28:12 Yeah, for sure. You use the name of their product or service, use their name, use the town where you did the service, talk about the technician that did the service or the clerk that helped him in this store or whatever. I think that those little personal touches go so far towards building that community. And that’s what this is. That’s what community karma is all about, right? We’re building a community, whether it’s your local neighborhood community or it’s your global virtual community. All of those little pieces fit into the puzzle that builds that community.

Erin: 28:44 Absolutely. And hopefully if you’re listening, you have, you put some value on that and you’re not trying to game the system because we are not going to advocate or condone that. So these are all the real work tips to do it, right? Yup. And it’s not always the quickest, easiest way, but it’s a way to really earn that trust with your community.

Carrie: 29:01 This is an investment people, it’s an investment. It’s not something that you’re going to buy and do it fast and quick and be over over with. You’re investing in the future of your business by building a good community out of it.

Erin: 29:16 Yes, and that is very, very important, especially in today’s day and age. People are back to a place where they love heritage brands and they’re not always just looking for the cheapest option they want to be taken care of. So be that for them.

Carrie: 29:32 Yup, for sure. All right. Thanks Erin. Stellar as always, we’re going to wrap it up stolen day. I know we can go on and on and on. We’re going to wrap it up for this week though. We really hope you guys join us next week. I think we might be talking a little bit more in depth about trolls next week, which is always fun. Post, post, post Halloween it. It’ll be two weeks post Halloween, right? Join us next week. So thank you so much for joining us today. We will see you next Friday. Bye everybody. Bye bye.

Intro/Outro: 30:17 Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe via iTunes, Google podcasts, or your favorite podcast app. And don’t forget to sign up for reminders via the website, community karma, podcast.com. See you next time.