Bike Shop ManagementBike Shop Marketing

How the best bike shops respond to reviews (and stay sane)

The customer’s voice has never been as powerful as it is today. Google, Facebook, Yelp, almost anywhere online customers can find your store,  they can also leave a review.

79% of consumers check reviews before they make a purchase or visit a business, and 85% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This means a few good or bad reviews can have a very real impact on your business. Luckily though, most platforms allow business owners to respond to those reviews, and you should always respond.

A Harvard Business Review study found that when businesses respond to both positive and negative reviews their ratings subsequently increase.

Listen, we understand that responding to online customer reviews, both good and bad, can be time-consuming and difficult. Maddening, even. But by responding (especially to the bad ones) you can learn from your mistakes and consistently improve your visibility.

Below, find some practical tips to ensure your approach to reviews also grows your business (and some templates to get you started).

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What are your options for dealing with reviews?

When a customer leaves a positive review for your bike shop…

You should always respond! Whenever a customer leaves you a positive review you should respond. Not only does it show customers that you stand behind your product or service, but it also allows you to engage with your satisfied customers. After all, it’s good to feel acknowledged, right? 

Acknowledge them by name in the response and show them your gratitude. But don’t just stop there. Anyone can write a quick ‘thank you’. This is an opportunity to separate yourself from your competitors. 

Go above and beyond by offering them some sort of extra value, whether that is coming into your workspace and testing out a new product, or sending a complimentary water bottle or t-shirt to their home with your company’s name and logo on it. Think outside the box! Show them that you don’t just pay attention to the customers that cause headaches. 

When a customer leaves a negative review…

Evaluate the feedback internally first, then respond to the review! That’s right: always respond. If the review meets the platform’s review policies, and is from an actual customer, you should respond to the review directly after you’ve taken the time to chew on the feedback. Customers have a lot of power online, and if you react emotionally, the disgruntled can easily spread negativity all over your reputation online. It’s easier than ever to do so.

How to respond depends on the situation. If the customer is in the wrong or somehow misunderstood something (like a promotion or your service policy), don’t hesitate to explain it! But also don’t argue. If you truly failed to meet expectations, use it as an opportunity to improve. 

In either case, offer them your email address or work number so that they may contact you directly, then consider creative ways you can offer a solution and turn a negative into a positive.  

Not offering a solution to make it right means you didn’t properly respond to the negative review.

On most review platforms you as the business owner have the last word, so keep your response nice, short, and civil. Replying with an attack on the reviewer will only make things worse, and could do more harm than good.

An empathetic and well-thought-out response to a negative review shows customers and potential customers that you care, are attentive, and empathetic.

Having response templates is handy

Depending on the size of your business, and how many hats you have to wear, you might not have the staff or the time to monitor every possible website that allows reviews. To make responding to reviews a little easier we suggest having two or three positive and negative review templates that you can use to streamline the process. 

When using a template to respond to a review try and edit it to be as personal as possible.

The double edge sword with using templates is that if you don’t edit them based on the situation, or use the same one too much, they can make your responses look robotic and disingenuous.

Templates to get you started

Below are examples of positive and negative response templates. Feel free to make these your own, or do a quick Google search to find more examples that might be more suitable for your business.

Positive response template example

Hi {first name}!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review (and for stopping into the shop). I’m ecstatic to hear that you loved {positive feature mentioned in the review} and I’m excited to let our team know they’re knocking it out of the park. Next time you come in, show us this comment and grab a water bottle and some stickers on us.  Thanks again for your review, {your name}, owner/manager

Negative response template example

Hi {first name},

Thank you for letting us know about {negative experience highlighted in the review}. I’m extremely sorry to hear that your experience with us was lacking, and will be reviewing your comments with our team to discuss how we can do better in the future. I would love to connect with you to try and find a way to solve this. Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience at {email or phone number} so that we can talk. I look forward to speaking with you. Sincerely, {your name}, owner.

What to do when a review is obviously fake, malicious, or written by a competitor 

Flag the review as inappropriate! For all the good internet tools like reviews can do – some people use them inappropriately. Luckily, many websites that allow customers to leave reviews also have policies to curb abuse. Flag the review. If it doesn’t get taken down, try and get in touch with the site’s support team. Your success here will depend on the site in question.

In the meantime, instead of leaving the bad review with no response – add a stopgap. Something as simple as “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t appear we have you in our records as a customer. Can you give us a call at {store phone number} so we can find you a resolution? Thanks so much” is all it takes. It tells prospective customers this review could be fake while also reminding them – no matter what – you’re ready to help. 

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