How to Respond to Negative and Positive Reviews | The Contractors Guide

Angelica NavarroOctober 7th, 2020
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A robust online presence on Google and other search engines is key to customers finding your business when they need home services. Once they find you, there’s a good chance they’ll also check your online reviews and how you respond to them. 

The topic of online reviews elicits passionate responses among home services business owners, depending on who you ask. Love them or hate them, one thing is certain — reviews aren’t going away. 

Let’s look at a few of the major review platforms customers are using most.

Google

The most popular and well-known of all the platforms, Google accounts for over half of all online business reviews. Its Google My Business™ feature allows businesses to list their information online, which consumers can easily access when they want to leave a review.

Yelp

Like Google, Yelp allows business owners to list their information and gives consumers an avenue to post feedback. It also has a review-filtering algorithm, a point of contention with some business owners. However, its continued popularity among consumers means it’s still a good idea to stay on top of your Yelp reviews.

Facebook

Facebook’s reviews are now known as “recommendations”. Previously, users could rate a business using a 5-star scale. Now, they are only asked if they recommend your business (yes or no) and offered a text box where they can give more details about their experience. 

Why should you care about responding to reviews? 

Your potential customers are doing their research. A whopping 93%of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. They look to see if your business has reviews, how many you have and how highly you are rated. In fact, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel able to trust a local business. 

But it’s not just about volume and ratings. Consumers also factor in how your company responds to both positive and negative reviews. Businesses who respond to reviews are 1.7 times more trustworthy to consumers than those who don’t.

Less than half of businesses respond to reviews at all, according to a Yext 2019 customer study. Some business owners don’t respond to online reviews because they feel they don’t have time. Others don’t want to because they’re not sure how. If you fall into one of these two categories, you could be losing business by driving existing and potential customers away. And for those who want to get ahead of the competition, responding to reviews represents a huge opportunity.

To help you better respond to reviews, we’ve put together a helpful guide that goes over how to effectively reply to positive and negative reviews. We’ll even cover neutral reviews that fall outside the norm and how to reply to those as well. 

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

You work hard to build your business and make your customers happy. When someone leaves a bad review, it can take the wind out of your sails and make you feel frustrated, even offended.

Try as you might, you simply may not be able to please everyone. But it’s how you’re responding to negative reviews that really matters. 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that replies to bad reviews. For those customers that leave the negative reviews, 43% say they would even change their negative review to a positive one if satisfied with a company’s response.

How to respond to bad reviews gracefully:

  • Thank the customer for their review.

  • Acknowledge and apologize for their unsatisfactory experience.

  • Express your desire to make the situation right

  • Provide a way for the customer to contact you directly to discuss their experience.

Example:

“Hello, [customer name]

I want to thank you for taking the time to leave feedback about your recent [service/install/phone call]. [Company’s name] prides itself on providing 5-star service, and your experience should have been no different. I am deeply sorry for the frustration, and would like the opportunity to make it up to you. Would you mind emailing/calling me at [contact information] so we can talk about your experience further? Thank you so much!

Sincerely, 

[Your name and company name]”

A reply like this shows empathy for the customer’s negative experience and your willingness to work towards a resolution. It’s also a way to promote your business by highlighting your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Avoid taking things personally when responding to negative reviews. Remember, your response is public. Being sarcastic, combative or accusatory toward a customer damages your brand and repels would-be customers.

Pro Tip: Sweeten the incentive for unhappy customers to give you another shot, if you’re able. For example, give them priority scheduling or a discount on their next service.

Can You Remove or Delete Reviews?

Instead of responding to negative reviews, some business owners attempt to have them removed. You might even see online ads for services that claim they can remove bad reviews, but you’d be wise to steer clear of these.

Reviews typically won’t be removed unless they fall into a particular category such as:

  • Hate speech

  • Threats

  • Abusive language

  • Off-topic generalizations

It’s best to flag these reviews for removal, and let the review platform filter them out or remove them if they violate review guidelines. 

Resist the temptation to respond to inaccurate or off-topic reviews by publicly questioning their validity. Doing so can make you appear defensive. Simply reply as you would any negative review, or flag it for removal if you truly suspect it’s fake. 

Remember that consumer opinions on review platforms are protected speech under the First Amendment. Disagreeing with someone’s opinion alone isn’t enough to have it removed. 

Deleting negative reviews is also not recommended. According to a TrustPilot survey, if your business is viewed as one that deletes negative reviews, 95% of consumers say they would lose trust in your company.

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

You might wonder why you should respond to positive reviews. After all, if there’s no problem and the customer is happy, it might seem unnecessary. On the contrary, not responding to positive reviews can actually make you look unappreciative. 

People love acknowledgment, and your customers are no different. Let’s go over how to respond to positive reviews effectively.

The Power of Personalization 

Think about the last time you called a business and was put on hold for a while. You can probably recite the on-hold prompt word-for-word: 

“Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold, and your call will be answered by the next available customer service agent.”

You know every customer hears this message, so it doesn’t make you feel special. It works the same way when you use a canned response for all your good reviews, which can turn off existing and potential customers alike.

Personalization is more meaningful to consumers than ever before. 36% of them say businesses need to do more to personalize their experiences, so keep this in mind when responding to reviews. 

Some easy ways to personalize your review responses:

  • Address the reviewer by their name.

  • Use details from the review in your reply.

Turning Positive Reviews into Marketing Opportunities

A good review is great marketing for your business, but it also gives you an opportunity to promote yourself in your review response. You can mention an upcoming promotion, ask for referrals to friends and family, or offer another service that could tie in to a job the customer recently had.

For example, if a customer leaves you a glowing review about a new comfort system you recently installed in their home, why not offer a maintenance plan in your reply?

“Hello, [customer name]

Thank you for taking the time to review your recent experience! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying your new comfort system and that your installation went smoothly.

Just in case we hadn’t mentioned it previously, we do offer worry-free maintenance plans to help keep your new system in top shape. Just give us a call at [phone number] and we can go over the details with you if you like. 

I want to thank you again for your review and for trusting us with your business!

Sincerely, 

[Your name and company name]”

Remember, anything you promote in a review response should be relevant to that particular customer and personalized to keep it from looking generic. 

Pro Tip: Be prompt when responding to positive reviews. A happy customer is in a great position to be an advocate for your business. Responding quickly makes them more likely to remember you and therefore, recommend you. 

How to Respond to Neutral Reviews

Occasionally, you’ll receive neutral reviews that contain both praise and criticism. They can be frustrating, because while they’re not negative, they don’t boost your overall score, either. 

Effectively responding to neutral reviews means addressing both the good and the bad. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started.

  • Thank the customer for leaving feedback.

  • Reiterate the good points of their review.

  • Apologize for any negatives.

  • Provide your contact information to discuss anything unsatisfactory.

A good template for a neutral review response:

“Hello, [customer name]

Thank you for leaving your feedback. I’m glad you were happy with [good points].

I apologize for [customer’s complaint], and want to look into this, so we can make your experience better next time. Would you mind reaching out to me at [phone number] to discuss? I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

[Your name and company name]”  

Pro Tip: Don’t incentivize a customer in exchange for amending a review. This can cause review platforms to flag you, which hurts your ranking. 

Asking Customers to Leave Reviews

Negative reviews tend to be more common than positive reviews. As the old saying goes, “Bad news travels fast. Good news takes the scenic route.” This means you should make it a habit to ask satisfied customers to leave reviews. 

Their feedback also lets you see what’s working and what’s not. You can then step back and see which staff members are driving your positive and negative reviews and identify coaching opportunities.

It might make you feel awkward to ask customers for reviews. However, a recent study revealed 76% of people who are asked to leave a review actually do so. Plus, positive reviews help lessen the blow from negative reviews to your overall rating. 

One easy method is to create an email or SMS text campaign to send customers who recently had a service completed prompting them to leave a review. When crafting these campaigns, be mindful of the following:

  • Keep them short. Two or three sentences are enough.

  • Thank the customer, and let them know their feedback matters.

  • Provide links to multiple review platforms where they can leave reviews.

Make sure you’re promptly responding to reviews from your customers, showing gratitude, and addressing any issues as needed. 

How ServiceTitan Helps

If all this is overwhelming, you’re not alone. Many home services businesses struggle to keep up with their online reputation and respond to reviews. With ServiceTitan Marketing Pro, you can generate more reviews, boost your online presence, and get valuable insights to help you run your business better.

A few of the things you can do with Marketing Pro:

  • Create review generation campaigns to automatically prompt customers for reviews after a completed job.

  • Receive notifications as soon as a customer leaves a review, so you can respond quickly.

  • Reply from within ServiceTitan, eliminating the need to log in to each review platform to respond.

  • Trace each review to a particular job or technician, so you can identify needed coaching opportunities.

Learn how Marketing Pro can help you take back control of your online reputation. Visit https://www.servicetitan.com/marketingpro to request your demo today.

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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