Recently on the Shout About Us blog, we’ve been sharing a series of tips on responding to different star ratings. We kicked off our series by explaining how to handle 1-star reviews, switched gears with response strategies for 5-star ratings, and finally, shared a few of our recommendations for replying to 3-star or neutral ratings. This week, we’re wrapping up our series with a combined look at 2-star and 4-star ratings, which reflect inverse customer experiences yet call for similar response strategies. We’ll talk about some special considerations you should keep in mind when responding to 2- or 4-star reviews, provide practical tips for responding to both, and — perhaps most importantly — discuss how your business benefits from a robust response strategy.
Be sure to visit our blog again next week, when we’ll be sharing advice on responding to fake, fraudulent, or simply mistaken reviews. In the meantime, let’s go over some “do’s and don’ts” of replying to 2-star or 4-star customer feedback.
How Does My Business Benefit from Responding to Customer Reviews?
As the owner of a thriving business, you already know that time is money — so why should you spend your valuable time responding to customer reviews? In other words, why do the tips in this article matter for your business?
There are at least three ways your business can benefit from responding to online reviews. If you’re undecided about making review response a bigger part of your current business strategy, consider the following advantages for your brand:
- Responding to reviews is good for SEO. And that’s not just our opinion — it’s been verified by Google My Business (GMB), which recommends the following as one of its tips to “improve your local ranking on Google”: “Respond to reviews that users leave about your business. When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.”
- Responding to reviews is an essential part of customer service in 2021. Remember, your reviewers didn’t have to take the time to share their feedback with you. They made the effort to comment in hopes of being assisted, acknowledged, or both. Instead of leaving your customers hanging, reward their effort by meeting them halfway with a response. If you wouldn’t ignore customers sharing feedback with you in person or over the phone, why would you ignore identical customer comments made online?
- Responding to reviews saves your business money on customer acquisition. While statistics vary by year and industry, most experts agree that customer acquisition, or the process of gaining new customers, costs substantially more than customer retention, or having repeat business from loyal customers. Responding to reviews reinforces brand loyalty by keeping happy customers happy — or, if the customer is unhappy, by giving your business a chance to control the damage.
How to Respond to a 2-Star Rating or Review
A 2-star rating might seem like a cloud with no silver lining. However, if handled strategically, it actually represents an opportunity to save money. By responding effectively, you may be able to retain a customer who would otherwise desert your brand — likely, taking friends and family with them. According to a 2020 study on “customer rage” conducted by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, which looked at the state of “corporate complaint handling in America” by interviewing more than 1,000 respondents, “Rage is shared like never before with friends and neighbors. 17% seek to raise public awareness of their experience, [while] dissatisfied complainants tell twice as many people about their negative experience than satisfied customers do.”
The good news is that, with a helpful and courteous reply, you may be able to prevent this from happening by defusing the situation before it escalates. Though your 2-star reviewer has clearly had an unpleasant experience, they’ve also found something positive about your business — otherwise, they would likely have opted to leave you a 1-star rating instead. In other words, this is a customer who is deeply dissatisfied with your brand, yet may still be open to giving you another chance — provided, of course, that you handle your response with care. To help you accomplish that goal more successfully, here are six simple, actionable tips and strategies that your team can start implementing right away when replying to 2-star reviews:
- Make sure you include the reviewer’s name in your response (unless anonymized or withheld).
- Thank the reviewer for sharing their feedback with you.
- Apologize for the reviewer’s frustration, disappointment, or dissatisfaction. An alternate but similar strategy is to apologize for the issue or incident, rather than the reviewer’s emotions — for instance, “We’re sorry to hear you’ve been experiencing issues with [ product / service ],” versus, “We’re sorry to hear that you were disappointed by the quality of [ product / service ].” It’s up to you which approach you prefer to take.
- Most importantly of all, emphasize that your team is here to take care of the issue and provide a resolution. Remember, your goal is to reassure the customer that you understand their grievance and sincerely want to fix it.
- Remember to include contact information so that the reviewer can easily follow up with you. While responses should generally be customized to each review, you may want to include an automatic signature line with your email and/or phone number already built in.
- Remain courteous, friendly, and professional throughout your response. Do not, under any circumstances, engage in an argument with the reviewer.
Here’s one final, important caveat before we move on to 4-star reviews:
The most serious customer complaints, such as claims of discrimination or fraud, are usually expressed as 1-star ratings and reviews. However, these types of comments can also appear within 2-star reviews. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure your review reply team is prepared with a special procedure for dealing with legally sensitive 2-star reviews, so that you can avoid embarrassing — and costly — PR disasters. For example, you may want to seek feedback from your HR department or corporate counsel prior to responding to any review that involves:
- Dangerous animals
- Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, creed, nationality, or religion
- Drug and alcohol use
- Mold, lead, or other hazards
- Sexual harassment or assault
- Unauthorized charges, fees, or payments
- Unsafe residential or worksite conditions
Responses to less serious complaints, such as customer grievances with bad food or slow service, needn’t necessarily be subjected to the same intense degree of scrutiny. It simply depends on how comfortable you and your team feel about composing and publishing responses to negative comments.
How to Respond to a 4-Star Rating or Review
The inverse of a 2-star reviewer, a 4-star reviewer is mostly pleased with your business. They are unlikely to include any complaints in their feedback, and if they do, will probably couch them with positive statements — for instance, “In general, we’ve been super pleased,” or, “Besides that one minor issue everything else here has been completely awesome!” This is precisely the opposite of the 2-star reviewer, whose positive remarks — if any — are likely to be both lukewarm and brief.
That being said, a 4-star review doesn’t mean your work with the customer journey is finished quite yet. Just as the 2-star reviewer is not completely dissatisfied with your business, nor has the 4-star reviewer been completely satisfied; otherwise, you would have received five stars. A 4-star rating indicates to your business — however politely or gently — that your product or service still has room for improvement (at least, in the reviewer’s opinion). Therefore, you must not respond quite as you would to a 5-star rating or review. If you respond as though the customer has expressed 100% satisfaction, you may be perceived as putting words into the reviewer’s mouth or glossing over negative details — and that puts you in danger of turning a happy customer unhappy.
A better, more thoughtful approach is to express enthusiastic gratitude, but also make it clear that your team is committed to delivering total satisfaction. You don’t necessarily need to apologize if the reviewer sounds happy with your business overall — but you should emphasize your willingness to go the extra mile for customer service. Here are a few examples of what we mean:
- Example #1 — Hi [Reviewer’s Name], thanks for sharing your review of [Business Name] with our team! It was our pleasure to help answer your questions and make you feel comfortable. If you’d like to share any additional feedback, or if there’s anything else we can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know! Thanks again for providing us with your review, [Reviewer Name], we appreciate it!
- Example #2 — Thank you, [Reviewer Name], for providing us with your feedback about our business. We’re delighted to hear that you received friendly, attentive service from our office staff! Customer satisfaction is our top priority and we encourage you to let us know if there’s anything we can do to deliver an even better experience the next time you visit us. Thanks again for taking the time to leave a review for [Business Name]!
As you can see, these example responses incorporate most of our above tips for replying to 2-star reviews, such as greeting the reviewer and thanking them for their feedback. However, because they’re responses to reviews that are predominantly positive, there’s a much greater emphasis on delivering the best experience possible, and a much smaller emphasis on apologizing or righting past wrongs. Ultimately, the 4-star reviewer is at low risk for leaving your brand — but that risk will be even lower if you take the time to compose a helpful, friendly reply.
Need More Help Replying to Customer Reviews? Ask About Our Response Scribe Service
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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.