By Sandra Quinn

You have no doubt come across a news story about a scathing review and some business owner’s or manager’s ‘brutal’ or witty response and perhaps wondered what the correct way to deal with online reviews really is.

Not many people will bother with the effort of filling in a physical comment card while engaging with a service or having bought something, but customers have a much more active role when it comes to online reviews.

Whether it’s a prominent review website where consumers go to see what others thought or the review section on your own site, you want to be sure that people are happy and that if they are not, that you don’t jeopardise future business by responding adversely.

Pride is at the heart of this in my opinion and that is only natural. You have spent your hard earned time and money building this business up and you don’t want someone coming in and putting a nasty spanner in the works with a really bad review.

Of course, not all reviews are bad and it is just as important to pay the right kind of attention to the glowing reviews.

According to figures from Review Trackers from a survey they conducted earlier this year, 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to a negative review within a week, but 63% say that a business has never responded to their review.

Most online reviews are the size of a tweet and don’t take the customer too long to create, so keep that in mind with your response – if their review is three sentences long, do not respond with a miniature essay.

Also, whether it is a positive or negative review, take what the customer is saying on board, thank them for their time and say you look forward to welcoming them again and in the case of a negative review, apologise and tell them what steps you are taking to prevent a similar experience for someone else in the future.

Avoid generic responses and though it might take a minute or two rather than simply copying and pasting, make the effort to address the reviewer and their points personally.

Many of the reviews that hit the headlines involve businesses getting far too invested and emotional and saying things online, which they would never dream of saying to a customer face-to-face. While it might hit the headlines, if a business owner is ripping shreds from someone who said some negative things about their business, it is highly likely that their hot-headed response will lose them business in the long run.

Success in terms of reviews is also written in the stars, as survey results from Review Trackers reviewed that 80% of consumers trust businesses more if they have a star rating of 4, 4.5 or 5.

Don’t forget that an online review holds incredible power – when someone looks up your business online, they will consider the reviews and your responses before they engage with your business.