You can't afford to ignore review sites. It might be tempting to bury your head in the sand and mark it off as one less thing to worry about but it's better to know what your customers are saying about you and respond, here's why...

 

Social Media is simply word of mouth - but amplified. Before social media, or perhaps the internet, your business would still be reviewed by customers. No different to how it is now. Here's how:

  1. Customer uses your business
  2. Customer tells some friends and family
  3. Friends and family tell their friends and family (if the review was particularly interesting or memorable).

 

And word begins to spread - if your customers told six people, then those told six people, 36 people would hear that review. It's just that nowadays the internet has become the middleman:

  1. Customer uses your business
  2. Customer reviews your business online
  3. Customer shares that review with everyone on their social media

You can see above how fast a review can spread. Instead of six friends telling six friends, 100 followers can re-tweet to their 100 followers.

With this in mind, you can no longer afford just to ignore review sites. It's tempting to bury your head in the sand, mark it off as one less thing to worry about. Yet it's better to know what your customers are saying about you and respond.

Here's why:

  • It may be a valid point you hadn't realised. Perhaps being busy in the kitchen means you didn't know the tables weren't wiped down often enough. Use how other's see your business to improve it.
  • A negative review can be used as positive marketing. By responding well to a negative review you affect how potential customers see you.
  • A fictitious review not rectified can be taken as a true account by other customers
  • Responding to good reviews encourages more good reviews. You show yourself to be responsive and engaging with your customers. In short, you make them feel valued, as you would in your venue.

So how should you respond to reviews? Each business is different and has its own voice but the basics are the same.

Here they are:

  • Write your response then leave it a day. Writing in haste can lead to you being misunderstood, or using a phrase that you wouldn't usually. Type your response out in a document, save it, then come back to it the next day.
  • Positive: Thank them for taking the time to review you. Personalise it by commenting on one aspect of their review. The Saddle Rooms near Middleham is a great example of this.
  • Negative: Respond politely and answer any points raised. Thank them for bringing it to your attention. Then ask them to contact you offline to rectify the situation.
  • Incorrect: If they've reviewed something that didn't happen, politely and calmly correct them.

These apply to any review site. The obvious one may be Tripadvisor but Facebook and Google also offer review options.

Google reviews especially show up when searching for your venue on maps or on Google. Reviews online are the same as feedback in your venue, just in front of more people. Treat them the same and confirm to existing and potential customers how professional your business is.