Be Balanced in Replies to Online Reviews

ID-10079334With tools like Google Reviews and Yelp there is no shortage of communication channels online for people to provide reviews on your product or service. Many trainers, consultants, and professional coaches tend to ignore these comments and review. It’s just not something they monitor as part of their online presence. While that isn’t necessarily damaging, it does ignore an avenue of interacting with your target market and clients. But just replying to reviews doesn’t make it a positive avenue. If you decide to engage in these reviews and comments, what you respond to is often as important as how you respond.

I was recently looking up a PC repair company who was active with Google Reviews. They had a four and a half star out of five rating and every single positive review contained a response from the company with exactly how they had achieved the results that received a glowing review. It was reassured until I noticed that not one of the negative reviews had received a response.

Even a simple, “Sorry that you were not satisfied. We try to meet all of our customers’ needs and regret not meeting your expectations,” would have made me feel like everyone got an equal amount of attention. I was left with the sense that if I didn’t like what they offered, I could get lost.

The reverse scenario can also be disconcerting. A company that only responds to negative reviews often appears to be defensive and making excuses for shortcomings. Not the impression most firms want to give.

I ended up speaking with the owner of the PC repair company and discovered that impression was false. He was competent and diligent about helping me with a hardware problem I was experiencing. Even when I disagreed with some of his solutions, he was accommodating and worked at providing a positive outcome.

In short, he didn’t ignore problems or my particular requests. Obviously this is not a make or break element to your online marketing, I still hired this company despite my misgivings. It does, however, serve as a warning on how your responses can subtly communicate negative impressions.

By all means address comments and reviews online but make sure not to only comment on negative or positive ones. Cordial and honest responses often provide the balanced response that most trainers, consultants, and professional coaches actually provide.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Don’t Oversimplify Web Metrics

When viewing web metrics, many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches want to boil things down to good and bad. High counts of visitors are good, low are bad. Low bounce rates are good, high is bad. While some of these principles can serve as guidelines, page or user context is critical in analyzing how to improve a page.

A statement that illustrates this was recently made to us in reviewing a site’s metrics. During the review the client said, “My homepage is doing really well. It has the most hits by far on the site and the bounce rate is comparable to other pages. The time on page is really good; it’s over a minute and a half.”

Following the general principles this statement was true, high hits, reasonable bounces, and plenty of time on the page. But there had been several complaints that content was hard to find on the homepage. So where was the disconnect?

The disconnect was that the numbers were telling a more complex story that the general principles couldn’t illustrate. A homepage being the most popular page is common. This particular homepage had little content, serving primarily as an index to other more robust sections of the site. For that reason, the bounce rate should have been well below other pages because the primary purpose was to direct people to other parts of the site. Furthermore there wasn’t much to view or read on the home page so the time on page should have been quite short, likely under ten seconds.

The numbers were showing that people were struggling to find what they wanted and many were giving up after a minute and a half. Don’t rely on general guidelines when reviewing individual page stats. Rather analyze the purpose of the page to determine if the norms truly apply or if the numbers mean something unique.