Should You Respond to that Negative Review?

There is a school of thought that says that a company must respond to every single review they receive via the online review systems. At a conference a few weeks ago, I took a contrarian position and received some blowback via Twitter. I’d like to explain my stance a bit further.

There are several issues with a policy that requires every review to receive a response.

First of all, doing so sets expectations. If you have that level of engagement with reviews, and aren’t able to maintain it, your brand can be damage. Small business owners know that that there are only so many hours in the day.

Some days you’re just too busy to monitor and respond to reviews. Then that day becomes a week, and then a month.

Meanwhile, you’re company is being flamed online because you aren’t responding. Much (some?) of that wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t expect you to respond to every review because of your previous activity.

Second, sometimes reviews are just plain nuts. Communicating with a lunatic reviewer is like wresting with a pig: you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

Third, as business owners, we’re all passionate about our companies. They’re like children to us, and we want to defend them when they’re attacked.

But, if you can’t respond calmly to a review, you’re likely to make things worse, rather than better.

If you must respond to a review that causes you to have an emotional response, you really should have your response reviewed before you post it. Preferably by someone outside the company that doesn’t have the same emotionally connection to the issue that you do.

The short version of all this is, if you’re going to respond to every review, be careful.