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Making the most of reviews

website reviewsA lot of business owners are reluctant to invite reviews – or even have social media profiles – for fear of negative responses.

But reviews (good AND bad) are a great way to learn and build goodwill, even with the most difficult customers.

The key is knowing how to respond – either privately or publicly. And unfortunately, the internet is pretty unforgiving and even the best intentions can come across poorly.

Here are a few things to remember before you respond to any review.

1: Every reviewer is a paying customer

2. Every reviewer is a human being, with personal motivations, feelings and sensitivities

3. Every reviewer holds strong opinions (otherwise, they probably wouldn’t both with a review!)

Positive reviews

You’d think this would be easy – after all, these reviewers are already impressed with you and your work. And it is easier than responding to a negative review – but it is also easy to get it wrong.

Believe it or not, all you need to do is say “thank you”. If you ask them to recommend you to friends, or add them to your mailing list, or invite them to an event, or send them a gift certificate, you run the risk of scaring them away or looking like you are paying them for the good review.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but just think about it. While a gift or invitation sounds like a nice idea, it can also be misinterpreted as a bribe or payment for the review.

Negative reviews

The first thing to do before responding to a negative review is to take a deep breath and try to stay objective. Don’t take the criticism to heart.

In fact, merely thanking the reviewer for their feedback and letting them know that you will take it on board it can often take the wind out of their sails.

Negative reviews can feel like a personal attack but the good news is they give you the opportunity to contact the reviewer and establish a connection – a perfect chance to bring an opponent over to your team.

Here at Direct Sites Online, we hear many stories from clients who were helpful and polite to critics and were given a second chance.

But it’s important to remain authentic and “real”, if the critic perceives your response as rude, condescending or disingenuous in any way, there’s a chance the situation could get worse.

So keep your response very simple – thank them and be specific about their experience and any changes you have been able to make, you could earn back the critic’s trust.

Public responses

It’s important to know when it is appropriate to post a public response and when it would be better to reply privately.

If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your side of the story as simply and politely as possible – don’t get offensive and don’t point fingers.

Remember, it will not just be the critic that reads your response.

If you need help establishing a social media presence, and understanding what it might mean for your business in terms of good and bad reviews, contact Direct Sites Online on 02 9557 7623 or email

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