Responding to Reviews Without Losing Your Head

Written by SuperUser Account on 11/5/2018
Responding to Reviews Without Losing Your Head

This week I have the pleasure of interviewing Kim Walker on the topic of responding to reviews. Kim is usually my co-host. She's always my wife and business partner.

Kim wrote this blog post a couple of weeks ago and she asked me to proofread it. I thought it was so good, and so useful to our audience, that I asked her to do a podcast episode about it. I hope you find it as useful as I did.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Where to Find Kim Online:


Welcome to another episode of the podcast by 5 Stones where we talk about the things that matter to small business. I'm your host Brian Walker. And today my co host is also my guest.


Kim recently wrote a blog post for 5 Stones and she was asking me to proof it for her, the topic as you know, how to respond to customer reviews without losing your head. And I thought it was a great blog post that would also be something that our listeners would want to listen to our podcast. So Kim, what had you write this? I know this is something that you talk about a lot, something that you're kind of passionate about.

Yeah. So we do review management for people and well, quite frankly, we have a client that has bad reviews and they wanted to respond to the reviews. So they said how do we do this? And they had their ideas for how they wanted to do it, which really isn't in alignment with how I think we should be responding to reviews. So I just kind of responded to them in an email with, hey, here's how I think you. Should be responding to reviews and then after I sent the email I was like, that really needs to be a blog post because I answered that question all the time.

Well you talk about it in the blog post? But it happens a lot. You're going along, you're having a good day, and you get a notification from Google or from facebook that you just got a review or a Yelp or a Trip Advisor or whatever, you know, the majority of the time those reviews are. Congrats. You just got a five star review and I know on Google as they come in for our clients, usually I see that. That word congrats in the email header. Yep. And if it's not there, then let me until they got less than a five star. And you know, a four star review isn't always bad. No. But those one, two and three star reviews. Yes. That can make a good day bad. Yep.

Absolutely. It's titled The way it's titled too, because

as you know, my head tingles when I get mad and the first reaction from business owners most of the time is, I mean our, our business is our life. It's our baby, and so when someone, a customer writes a negative review, it can feel like someone is attacking your child or attacking your baby and so that kind of Mama Bear, papa bear mentality comes out and people are often really angry and so you know, that's kind of one of the. One of the things that we talk about in the blog post is, is how to not lose your head because while you're likely not going to save that particular client you want to, but your review is really. It's about that person, but it's really more about the rest of the world. Who's going to see your response? Do you want people to see you as a hothead or do you want people to see you as someone who is calm and cares?

Well, that takes us right into the blog posts. Then you gave five tips for responding to reviews and tip one is to take a step back. Tell us a little bit about that.

Well, it's Kinda what I was just talking about the. When something happens, whether it's a review or something that happens in the world when you're in La, I mean our initial reaction by nature is to be defensive and so my first tip is to, is to breathe, is to actually walk away, step away from your computer, from the email, from the facebook notification, and really think about the whole situation. There's two sides to every story. And sometimes as a business owner you weren't there in the situation, you don't know the whole story. And so I think it's important to stop, to think, to relax, take a deep breath, and possibly wait before you respond. You know, you, you have to cool off.

Yep. And that's actually your tip to yes to think.

And that's a hard thing to do when you're emotional.

So sometimes it will sell people a lot of times. Definitely don't respond to them, but sometimes don't ever respond that day.

Yeah. I mean, I don't want you to wait forever. Um, but I do want you to wait until you've cooled off. And, and the thinking part is also kind of a research part. It's actually get the whole story. Go talk to your person who answered the phone, go talk to your customer service Rep, your sales person. You're the person who whoever your customer experienced and get their side of the story because you cannot respond if you don't know all the details. It's just not possible.

So tip one was take a step back. Tip Two is three, get both tiptoes. Three. Tip Two is think, think, which is to take a look at it from your customer's perspective. Absolutely. So tip three is never respond defensively,

man. That's the worst possible thing. You know when you respond defensively, it's because you didn't do tip one, tip two. If you are defensive, your guard is up, you're ready to fight, and there's no possible way that you can put your best foot forward, that you can be objective, that you can show the world your best side. When you're being defensive. Nobody wants to hire you and do business with you if you're acting that way.

And I think that people come to expect it. No one is perfect. So a lot of times if somebody is giving you a bad review, unless it's just, you know, it's that fake review from your competition, which it happens, but you know, unless it's that something probably did go wrong. Absolutely. And I think that people are willing to accept that everyone is human. If you own up to the mistake, if you're just defensive all the time and you know, it wasn't like that. It's not our fault. Right. You're telling the client you're the problem, then you know that that just doesn't look good.

No. Look, I forget who it was. I think you sent it to me. Oh, the bride bride. Yeah. So there was a photographer.

Yeah, I'll put the link to that in the show notes.

I think it was a photographer who had like a bridezilla.

It was a wedding venue.

It was the wedding venue. Yeah. And they did not. I mean they were just bold and honest. They put out the facts. They absolutely put the facts out there. So I mean there's a time and a place for that, but you really need to have your stuff together if you're going to go that far.

Well, and that was the case of genuinely the person who left the battery view was the problem. Absolutely. And, and the, the business that responded or bad review, they had their stuff together, right? They laid out the facts and this person could not read. They, they actually, they did reply to the business and they made themselves look foolish. At that point, everyone knew that this bridezilla

yeah. People even commented after Bridezilla responded and they were like, Oh, end of story. Like you really just solidified the whole thing. But you know, in this, in this third tip that I gave, depending on your business, I mean if you're someone who sees a massive amount of customers every day and you don't have a personal relationship with them, this will not work. But if you're a company that collects name, phone number, email address, if you're a more relationship based company where you engage with your clients, pick up the phone, like make a phone call, have a conversation. I, I have seen where that level of concern actually caused the customer to go back and amend their review. I've seen it happen, so if that's you and that's sort of scenario applies to you, consider once you've cooled off and you know how to do it without being defensive, maybe it's that you're calling just to learn more, to say, hey, I just need to know what happened here and have a conversation.

I also find very often where if businesses pay attention to their reviews, they'll learn more than they want it to. Sometimes you may find a trend. Maybe it's that your facilities needs some serious maintenance. Maybe it's that the person answering the phone sucks. Maybe you find some specific thing that everybody's complaining about and you see it's an easy thing to fix. There might be some staff development that needs to happen. There might be some specific training that needs to happen. There might be people that are sitting. What's the book about? Is it good degree that talks about getting the right people on the bus and then having the right people in the right seats on the bus? Or is that an email? Not Email. Either way, maybe the person answering the phone shouldn't be answering the phone. Maybe they're a great employee. They need to be somewhere else.

And then one, one thing to clarify on that, if you do take it offline, which we encourage, if you're able to take it offline to talk to the person directly, once you have made everything right, you want to respond to that review. If they don't remove it, you want to respond to that review and just, you know, it could be a hey, thanks for taking the time to talk to him. He on the phone. Yep. Glad we were able to get to settle. You want people to know that you're taking care of it. The worst thing in the world. I mean it's, it's bad enough to have good reviews that don't get responded to, but when you have a bad review that doesn't get responded to, that just tells people I don't care. Absolutely. So if it gets taken offline and handled offline, if that review remains, you need to go respond to it. Yep. Alright, so tip four is that you want people to realize that when they get that negative review, it's likely that they're not going to regain that customer.

Yep. So I have a story about this. I'm not gonna name the, the company because you're really good. Friends of ours have talked about it before, but I didn't tell him I was going to talk about on this podcast, so I'm not going to say their name, but they're a restaurant, very well known, very popular on special occasions. So they had someone who went and wrote a nasty review on mother's Day. So there was a very long line to get into this place on mother's Day. Um, this was also this customer's first time experience there. And I'm sorry if you're going to set restaurant on mother's Day, you know you're going to wait.

Yeah. This is probably not going to be as fast services probably.

I'm going to be a little off. Absolutely. So this first timer decided I'm telling the world and they went and they wrote a nasty review complaining about exactly what we just talked about. The long wait, the wait, would you know, they, they had to wait outside. It was a hot. I mean it's, it's mother's Day in Louisiana. It was may, it was hot and the service was slower than. I mean it was, it was, it was, it was. Not that it's normally slow, but it was slower. So what happened was the owner called me, was like, Kim, what am I going to do? I'm going to delete it. I'm like, you're not going to delete it. What we're going to do is respond. And so I worked with her. She responded. The customer came back, responded to her response, and she called me. She was like, I'm going to delete it. What am I going to do? And I'm like, you know what? You responded in a caring way. You admitted admitted it was a busy day. You apologized. You try to make it right and that's really all you can do. Do not respond again. Leave it alone and watch what happens. And what happened next was the most beautiful thing that I've ever experienced.

The last time I looked at that post. It's been several years, there were over a hundred comments of fans or people that frequent that particular restaurant commenting basically letting this customer habit. It's the, the greater community of that restaurant came to their defense for them.

And those people can say what they want.

Yes. They don't have to be nice about it. As the business owner, you have to be nice about it. They work. I've seen the, uh, the replies, they let the person have it and you know, it's like, Hey, what do you expect? Yep. You went to this place on mother's Day, right? It's the place to go to on Mother's Day and you didn't get the service that you expected. They got learned.

Alright, so tip five, reply and walk away.

Yeah, that's what I was just kind of talking about is do not. Oh my gosh. And I think this is a big, huge mistake that I see business owners making all the time is they get into this back and forth, you know, he said she said and it, that is not going to go anywhere. Good. It's going to go bad fast,

sir. Apply him. Just let it go.

Yep. I mean as hard as it is, maybe don't even look at it for awhile. Like you literally got to just, you know, and I think that's one of the reasons why people like us handling their review management is because they don't have to see it and do it. We send them like, you know, advising guidance and let them know what we're doing. We have a whole process for it and this isn't about selling our service, but it's, it's, it's a peace of mind knowing I don't have to handle that part unless it's a really special situation. But uh, yeah, just move on. Get back to your business.

All right, so you gave a few a little bolder side deals. They're basically, you did five tips and couldn't keep it to five tips. Well, because you know, I talk a lot or bonuses all the time. You already talked about this, but use your reviews for staff training.

Well and also I just want to say in my defense it's five tips, but it's really eight, but eight tips would be weird. Okay, excellent. Um, yeah, I kinda referenced that already is pay attention. People aren't just writing review. Most of the time people are not just writing a negative review just to be ugly. They really often just had a bad experience and they need to let you know about it. It's really a gift. I mean if somebody really tells you the truth and if a large number of your reviews are coming back with the person that answered the phone or I never got a follow up, which I was told I was going to get or you know, whatever that particular thing is, they. That is a gift to your business because you can see the trends and you can see what's happening. You know, when you're in it every single day, you might not notice that the paint is storing to chip on this particular piece of furniture. But when people come in with fresh eyes and they're like, oh my gosh, look at this place is a dump.

Well sometimes we'll, we'll actually pay people to do that. Yeah. You'll pay a coach, for example, and that coach will come in and they'll look at what you're doing in your business and they'll tell you the things that you're doing wrong. Then you pay them and you're thankful for it. Yup. Yeah. Your customers are telling you for free and you get mad. You get mad. But if, if you can step back from the situation enough to realize that this person is giving you this feedback based off of an experience that they had and they're not just making this stuff up like something went wrong. Like you said, I think you put it very well, but it's a gift. You know, they just, they just told you how to make your business better. Yup. Alright. Next tip was, even if the reviews are positive, respond.

Yes. Uh, that's another thing, like you talked about a minute ago, how people will ignore the negative reviews. I actually see the opposite most of the time where people only respond to the negative, but yet they're loyal fan base their customer who loves them. They're not even saying thank you. Like I am one of those people, I love to do surveys, I love to write reviews, I love to write recommendations on Linkedin. It makes me feel good to do that. But you know, it takes time to stop and actually think for a second about what I mean. Somebody didn't just click like they wrote a review, they wrote a sentence or attached a picture or you know that that takes time. They could be doing something else, but instead they wanted to give your company some love publicly.

Yeah. They just, they recommended you to people that they don't necessarily know. Absolutely. How often do, like if we're traveling, if we're looking for a place to go have dinner time, it's tripadvisor all the time. Read the reviews.

I look at tripadvisor and then I will also from, depending if the restaurant, I go to tripadvisor first and then I will go to their facebook page to look at reviews on there as well. I absolutely do it.

Alright, so your next bonus is to claim your listings? Yes. I mean you can't respond to your reviews. You can't, you don't even know that you're getting reviews.

They're there. Yeah. People don't realize, well, I didn't create that listing. You didn't have to Google did it. It's there.

Had someone tell me not long ago, I was meeting with them and we were talking about their google my business page and they were like, oh, I don't want. I don't want that because I don't want to go into reviews. Well guess what? Google made you on what are you like it or not? And it's not going away and we can leave reviews on and you can't stop that from happening.

Look, there was, I don't know if you can find this. There was, I swear there was a lawsuit. They sued Google, but the thing is you look, you have to go. We teach these classes. You have to go get claimed your listing and we check with our customers all the time and I just got two emails, one yesterday and the day before about their holiday hours. You know? Um, I know this, this podcast will be, this episode will be listened to. It just happens to be that we are, it's October 30th when we're recording this, so I'm. We're heading into the holiday season. A restaurant just emailed me and a coffee shop just emailed me their holiday hours because they don't want people trying to come to their business on whatever.

Well, in the lawsuit that you mentioned was just the opposite. Google had created this listing. The person had not claimed it and it said that they were closed on a day that they were not. Yes, and it was business. They did. They. They lose a lot of business because if you think about it, Google maps, if you tell Google maps, take me to ruth's Chris in New Orleans. If they're not open and maps, it will come up and tell you that this business is not going to be open when you get there. Yes. Or if you're looking for a phone number, it's very rare that the website is the first thing that comes up anymore. Usually it's the map listing Annapolis team, the little three pack, and if somebody clicks on that are actually, it'll still show them right there in that three pack. It'll say open until our close to now. And this was a business that the hours were wrong. The business had not claimed the listing and they were losing business because when people would pull it up, it said that they were closed. Yep.

Just recently, one of our, one of our customers are restaurant. Actually, I think the reason she came to us was because. No, she came to us for a different reason, but while she was here she realized that we could fix this. Is that hers kept saying she was open at 10:00 AM. She didn't open until 11 and she had people come in all the time and they're mad they're not going to wait an hour.

Yeah. But they were actually serving them early. Well, because she gets it right? Yeah. Yeah. But you know, that's, it's a fairly easy fix. Yep. And can you solve it? Can. It can keep you from having that headache,

the link in the show notes? I think it's just google my is where you start.

Yeah. bissell's. Alright. So anything else?

You know, I mean we like to help people and teach people there. There are programs out there that help you manage all of your reviews in one spot. So I would recommend people take a look at it and we can, we can put some in the show notes if people want to take a look at them. But um, to make it easy so you're not having to go into your facebook, go into your google my business listing, go into home advisor and tripadvisor and yelp and all these different places you can try, you know, try to manage it from one place, um, for yourself.

Yep. And it will send you some nice alerts when you do get those reviews.

Yes. And you know, I will say the nice thing about that is that, so we, when we're doing this for our customers, this is why people love the way we do it. We use a program that they send us the email addresses for their customers. We inputted into the system, the customer gets an email asking them to rate the business so they rate them like one to five stars. If they rate them five stars, the next step is, oh, thank you. Now I'll go write a review and it's since then to wherever they choose google or facebook or whatever. But the beautiful, beautiful thing about it is that we're intercepting negative reviews. So if they rate it one to three or four, then um, if they've rated it one through four, it gives them the chance to share their negative feedback before they go public. So it's just a really cool feature

hurt. So recapping, tip on, take a step back to think pip three never replied defensively, I realize you're probably not going to regain that customer. And tip five is to reply and walk away.

Well, tip four is really that it's about your greater community. It's not, I mean, it's that you're probably not going to get that customer back, but it's not about them. It's about the whole community. Sorry.

Well, thank you for listening to this episode. If you go to our show notes, so if you just get a five stones forward slash podcast, you'll find all the episodes there and if you go to this episode and go to the show notes, we'll have links to the resources that we mentioned. And, uh, again, thank you for listening.

Hey, while we're talking about reviews, how about hit us up with a review of the podcast?

Yeah, we would love a review of the podcast. You can do that on itunes or stitcher or spotify.

Yep. And that's a tip that I didn't even put his asked for. Reviews.

No, unfortunately we can't reply to those reviews. They don't give you the option to do that, but we would appreciate the review.

Yeah. Five, five star. Yep.

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