All businesses eventually make mistakes, and all shoppers eventually have bad experiences. In a digital and interconnected world, this means that bad reviews are inevitable.
Regardless of who is really at fault or what actually happened, the story a review tells will affect your business one way or another. According to a 2017 survey, 68% of Americans online shoppers indicated that trustworthy reviews were an important influencing factor when making purchasing decisions.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that only 42% of those same shoppers claimed that recommendations from their friends and family influenced them. This data is indicative of a clear shift in the behavior of shoppers from trusting sources near to them to gathering information from more interconnected and authoritative sources.
Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that you will never receive a bad review, focus on managing your reviews. Learning how to effectively manage and respond to reviews can protect both your brand and your business.
Responding Is the Most Important Factor to Managing Reviews
The first step in managing reviews is making the decision to respond to them. Responding to negative reviews will not only protect your dispensary’s reputation but can also build your brand’s credibility. A 2018 study published by The Harvard Business Review found that when businesses respond to customer reviews (both good and bad), they receive higher overall customer ratings.
There are a few tips and techniques that may be able to help you when managing reviews.
For starters, personalizing your responses is a good way to demonstrate sincerity and honesty. Whenever possible, try to use the reviewer’s name in your response, and avoid generic greetings like “Dear Customer”.
Furthermore, a quick “thank you” shows customers that your business is non-confrontational and appreciates their input. The simplest way of doing this is by thanking customers for their review, or by thanking them for taking the time to bring a specific issue to your attention.
Gracefully responding to a bad review demonstrates that you’re willing to acknowledge a customer’s input and are able to take responsibility for their experience. Your reply should seek to acknowledge the incident and provide assurance that your dispensary holds itself to high standards.
Keep It Short And Avoid Getting Dirty
It’s important to avoid giving generic cookie-cutter responses to your reviews. However, going into excessive detail can often have the opposite intended effect. It’s best to keep review responses short and sweet whenever possible.
Three to five sentences is probably a good rule of thumb for replies. No matter how scathing or thorough a review may be, resist the urge to defend it point by point. Going into detail can sound defensive and can give legitimacy to a reviewer’s complaints. Keep in mind that the point of replying is not to placate each individual reviewer, but rather to communicate your company’s integrity to anyone who may be browsing that review page.
Whenever possible, attempt to take the issue offline. Rather than risk a long and ugly back-and-forth situation, try meeting up with customers to resolve problems via email or phone. It’s unlikely that complex problems or differences will be resolved through review sites.
Sometimes, apologizing to a reviewer may be appropriate, even if you don’t think you did anything wrong. Everybody experiences things differently and there is really no point in trying to change how a reviewer feels about something. Showing sympathy can be an effective way of defusing the situation and achieving some sense of closure.
Remember that apologies don’t have to be specific. The best way to apologize for a negative review is by apologizing for a ‘bad experience’ rather than for the exact things that went wrong.
Lastly, don’t make apologizing for bad reviews a habit. Being overly-apologetic can come across as unprofessional, and can seriously damage your credibility.
And, hey, if none of that works, you can always just try deleting your Google reviews!