Customer feedback, often in the form of online ratings or reviews, can act as a major catalyst of
change for every business, big or small. The Small Business Advantage is the "human element."
The human element comes instinctively to small businesses, who can easily put a face on their brand. They have more personality, more charm, and act like individuals (because they are). Customers want to trust the human they can see and interact with.
Apply your advantage by having a clear "brand voice" that represents you in personable, professional, and empathetic responses to online feedback. Don't confuse professional with robotic. If it sounds like a canned response, the customer may write you off as uncaring.
Three Types of Reviews
On most websites, good reviews don't need a public response, and sometimes it's not worth your time to respond to every single one. But in many cases, there is a benefit to demonstrating that you're actively paying attention and listening to your customers.
Always respond publicly to good feedback on community-oriented websites, like Facebook or Twitter. These sites were founded on two-way communication and are great places to demonstrate your Small Business Advantage.
You will squash any suspicion of fake reviews by replying to good feedback.This also shows that you appreciate the time it took to leave a good review.
This is the "3 out of 5 stars" rating. This customer didn't experience anything bad but wasn't impressed or blown away. Most of the time they are on the cusp of becoming a loyal advocate. All you need to do is provide that little nudge into loyalty. If possible, send a private note to the customer thanking them for their business. You could ask if they have any feedback on turning "good" into "great." Be careful not to imply that your service was bad or that there's something wrong with it. Go above and beyond if you get repeat business from this customer. It will pay off in the long run.
Bad reviews happen. Things slip through the cracks. Sometimes no matter what you do, you just can't please everyone. Respond to the bad review quickly; be genuine; and show that you're making every effort to right any wrongs. Your Small Business Advantage is crucial here. Learn to spot a potential bad review early and seek to prevent it. Make sure your employees escalate any customer issues for oversight so that you have the chance to turn a bad situation around before it ever becomes a bad review.
Those three types of reviews and response tactics are typical for many companies, but every customer and every business is different. Ultimately, you'll want to use your best judgment based on your experience in the off-line world. If you wield your Small Business Advantage, you'll find exactly what works for you.
For more small business help, check out Small Biz Resources.