The unthinkable happens: You’ve been given a bad review on Zillow. How do you respond? Do you respond? What do you do?
In truth, there’s a lot more to think about than simple advice to “respond to every review, good or bad.” There are just as many reasons to not respond to reviews, as there are to reply to them.
In this post we’ll discuss the different schools of thought. Have a read to help determine what best suits your business.
The first school of thought says you should respond to all reviews. It’s said that responding to a review, good or bad, achieves two things:
The theory goes, when you respond to a review, future customers see you interacting with the reviewer. Zillow’s own blog says it in these words:
Replying to a review adds another dimension of humanity to what can sometimes be seen as impersonal words on a page. Adding a reply helps personalize the review and lends credibility to it.
So far, so good. But what if you don’t actually need to respond to get the main benefit from a review?
Another perspective suggests that it is the numbers of reviews that is the most important. What the reviews say may not be qualitatively important. This is the most true for those agents with lots of reviews. Zillow ranks agents according to how many reviews they have, not what is contained within them.
If you have 200 five-star reviews, you’re going to be ranked highly regardless of whether you reply or not. Customers will hire an agent with 200 five-star reviews regardless of whether you reply or not. They won’t even care if you have a few bad reviews, either.
According to this view, your replies don’t really matter. What counts is getting out there and getting those reviews. Eventually, the sheer number of reviews will overwhelm many other factors.
A very popular position says you should make efforts to reply to bad reviews especially, to
mitigate the damage. Zillow’s own blog gives a few tips how, and argues that you need to deal with them.
The theory behind this is that a simple “I’m sorry” can mitigate the bad review. However, there’s also the danger that you’ll come off as insincere. Because you can’t ever get defensive and come off looking good, it can be very hard to dispute factual errors in the negative review. When the facts are in question, you’re better off not saying anything at all.
The second danger to replying to bad reviews only is that any extra attention you give to these reviews gets them more attention, both in terms of search engine results and customer focus. If a prospect sees a negative review, and then sees you replied to it, they’re going to read the whole review to compare with your comments, when previously they may have simply brushed over it.
At the end of the day, the better course of action is to choose the strategy that fits the reviews you have. If you have only a few reviews, then customers will put more emphasis on what’s contained in those reviews before hiring you,. Here, responding to all reviews, both good and bad, makes sense.
However, if you have been able to garner many reviews—say, more than 50, then the focus shifts from what a few reviews a about you to what such a large body implies: That anyone with many reviews is capable of handling a transaction as a professional. Here, you’re better off letting the actions of so many reviewers speak louder than the words of a few.