Apple. Home Depot. Bank of America. These are brands we’ve all heard of, and probably have even used or purchased ourselves at some point — not too surprising, since all of them rank among the world’s most valuable brands as of 2022.
There are useful lessons that businesses and franchises, plus the agencies they work with, can learn from these brands and their competitors, such as their customer service strategies. For example, how do these hugely successful brands interact with their customers online? Especially when those customers were less than thrilled by their experiences?
We’ll take a look at some real-life examples in an effort to answer those questions. In this week’s post, our response scribes will analyze a few major brands’ review reply strategies, where they’re being utilized, why they’re effective, and — maybe most importantly — how they might be modified to suit the needs of your business and customers.
3 Real Life Examples of Online Reviews (And How Major Brands Responded)
The three examples we’ve compiled below collectively cover some of the most common complaints that businesses receive from their customers, from incorrect orders and unexpected charges to poor customer service and confusion over products or services. They also represent three of the most common types of websites or mobile apps where ratings, complaints, and reviews are shared online: consumer protection-oriented sites, like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website; more conventional review platforms, like Google Business Profiles (GBP, formerly Google My Business/GMB); and of course, social media platforms (such as Twitter).
Example #1: Home Depot
Home Depot is the largest home retailer in the U.S. and boasted revenue exceeding $151 billion as of 2021. This customer left a negative review and 1-star rating for Home Depot on the BBB website after experiencing an issue with a product she ordered. According to the review, the customer received the wrong item and was told she would be charged an additional payment to get the correct item.
This is a common complaint or scenario that many businesses find themselves dealing with on a regular basis, from missing sodas in a takeout meal to replacement parts that arrive in the wrong size or color. But in any of these scenarios, regardless of which party is “in the right,” the bottom line is that the customer relationship has been damaged and needs to be repaired if the business wants to retain that customer — and, at the same time, avoid losing ground to a competitor. So how did Home Depot’s team address this review, and what are some pointers that your business can learn from this example?
Here’s what our team likes about this response:
- It starts out with a personalized greeting. If you’d prefer a less formal tone, you can always use the reviewer’s first name. In fact, that’s the more common approach — but ultimately, what really matters is greeting the reviewer personally.
- It thanks the reviewer. Whether a reviewer is blasting your business or singing its praises, they should always be acknowledged for their valuable time and feedback.
- It apologizes to the reviewer. The response acknowledges and apologizes for the reviewer’s negative experience, instead of trying to challenge or minimize the customer’s comments.
- It invites the reviewer to provide more details. This should be the goal of any response to a negative review: to get the customer talking to your team so that you can resolve the issue (and, hopefully, save the relationship). Do not try to resolve the issue or explain your policies directly within your response, which could cast your business in an argumentative or confrontational light.
- It provides contact information. Not only does the response encourage the customer to get in touch, it goes a step further by providing contact information where customer support can be reached. While not strictly necessary to include, contact information is a courteous touch that demonstrates respect for the customer’s time and a sincere willingness to follow up.
Example #2: Apple
Many of us own a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, a watch, a desktop computer, or another type of device made by Apple — maybe even two or three of them. After all, according to Kantar.com, the tech juggernaut has a staggering brand value of over $947 billion as of 2022, placing Apple “on track to become the first trillion-dollar brand.”
So, maybe your brand isn’t worth quite nearly a trillion dollars (yet). That doesn’t mean you can’t successfully and effectively apply some of the same review response principles that Apple’s team uses when responding to comments online.
While it’s difficult to find owner responses to ratings or reviews of the Apple Store (which only has about 500 brick-and-mortar locations worldwide), we can still get a great idea of how their support team handles customers’ issues by looking at the official Apple Support Twitter account. Here’s an example of a tweet from a customer who was having an issue with a product they purchased:
While Twitter enforces tight character limits that review platforms like Yelp and Google don’t, the basic scenario is the same: your business has received a comment from a customer who’s having a problem and requires assistance. Now, your team needs to react. Here’s how Apple Support addressed the situation:
Here are some details we like about Apple’s response:
- They responded promptly. If you look at the timestamps on the screenshots above, you can see that Apple’s support team responded to the customer within an hour of the customer reaching out. While the average customer doesn’t expect you to be quite that speedy, there is data showing that 20% of customers expect a response from the business within 24 hours.
- They used reassuring, friendly language. Using phrases like “we understand how important this is to you” and “we are here to help,” like Apple’s team did in this example, is a great way to communicate that your team is service-oriented and wants to get the reviewer’s question or problem resolved as swiftly and thoroughly as possible.
- They encouraged the commenter to follow up. Apple’s team could have merely suggested a technical solution and ended the conversation there. Instead, they encouraged the commenter to follow up with their team in a direct message, which is appropriate for social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you’re using a conventional review platform like Yelp or Google, it’s better to provide a phone number or email address where your team can be reached.
Example #3: Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the most widely-used banks in the U.S., with close to $90 billion in revenue in 2021. Of course, not all of those customers are always satisfied with their BoA experience. Here’s a negative GMB review, accompanied by a 1-star rating, from a customer who had a disappointing customer service experience while visiting a Bank of America location in New York early this year.
This review is slightly different from the previous two in that it involves an employee rather than a product or service. Here’s how Bank of America’s team replied to the complaint:
Here are a few details that we want to highlight from this response:
- It addresses the reviewer by name. As we mentioned earlier, this one is a great example of a more casual tone that uses the reviewer’s first name instead of their surname.
- It expresses a willingness to learn and improve. Consumers want to be reassured that, beyond passively accepting feedback, companies will listen and act to help prevent future negative experiences. Asking the reviewer to connect and share additional information signals the company’s commitment to making improvements for BoA customers.
- The review signs off with a person’s name. Closing with the manager’s name adds a touch of personalization that consumers value highly. Ideally, this should include proper capitalization along with some sort of sign-off message or signature (such as “Warm Regards,” or “The Team at” your business).
Responding to your online reviews — ideally, while incorporating some of the tips we discussed today — is a modern and cost-efficient customer service strategy that can be rapidly implemented and easily scaled to small, medium, and large brands at every stage of their growth.
Put Our Review Response Service to Work for Your Brand, Franchise, or Agency
In today’s post, we analyzed the review response strategies of some of the planet’s largest and most profitable brands, such as Apple and Bank of America. But you don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of employees — or invest millions of dollars in market research — to start reaching and retaining more customers this quarter. All you need is the team of response scribes at Shout About Us, who ensure that all of your ratings and reviews receive customized responses within 24 hours.
Discover why leading digital agencies like CallSource, Curious Jane, Qebot, and V Digital Services trust Shout About Us to provide turnkey review and reputation management solutions. Schedule a demo of our review reply service and reputation management platform today, or contact our team online to get started.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.