Winery Online Reviews: How to Respond to Bad Reviews
By Courtney Holmes
Some wineries hate online review sites like Yelp or Google Local because unhappy customers can sometimes post unreasonable reviews about their winery. But what many businesses in general don't realize is that negative reviews are actually an opportunity to show people how much you care by the way you respond to the negative review.
For both Yelp and Google, local business owners can publicly respond to a review - positive or negative. You can also opt to write a private response or a public response to the review. We recommend writing a public response, because you are not just responding to that reviewer but to anyone who is reading the reviews.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews About Your Winery
Take a Deep Breath
First, before writing your response, take a deep breath. We all take great pride in our businesses, it's hard to hear negativity, let alone have the negativity published online. It is easy to get defensive and short sighted. The fact is that 40% of customers with bad experiences will go on line to write a bad review, but only 8% go online to write positive reviews. So that seems pretty unfair to begin with.
Consider Their Motivation
Second, consider the reviewers motivation. They are usually not trying to "stick it" to you. Most of them believe they are doing a service for other consumers who are trying to make good purchase decisions. If they have a bad experience they want others to know so they don't make the same mistake. They are also writing the review for the owners, so that they are aware of the experience and hope that changes will be made so that others do not experience the same. But yes - there are those jerks out there that are never happy and guess what - that's okay because ALL of their reviews are negative and Yelp and Google have it in their algorithm and they don't put much rate onto those profiles with consistent negative reviews. So their 1 star rating for a winery is weighted differently from another person's 1 star. Also, if this is the first time a customer has ever published a rating, often they are not even included on the main review page and are filtered out until they write more reviews and of varying starred ratings.
State Your Values and Mission
Third, respond to the review by stating your values and mission. These values are what should drive all decisions and processes for your wine business. Now explain how their experience was either in line with your values and mission or how it was out of line with those guidelines. If they were not in line with your mission and values, then you need to find a way to remedy the situation and make sure that you have processes setup so that it never happens again.
This all sounds very vague, right? So let's say your mission is to provide an elegant experience with your brand on all levels. So if you received a review from a taster that explained that their wine glass was dirty or that the tasting room server didn't give them enough attention. Well then you have to ask yourself, would you consider that an elegant experience? And if not what can you do to make sure that this doesn't happen again.
But say someone complained about getting turned away for not making an appointment for their limo party, but that is in line with your policy. So this is your opportunity to explain that you set up a private room for limo parties so that they have the most elegant experience. Your "appointment only" limo party policy also ensures that the party does not interrupt the peaceful experience your winery creates for the other visitors (by providing a separate room for the party).
Remember, your response to negative reviews can be made public on both Yelp and Google. So you are not only responding to the reviewer, but to all readers of that review. The fact that you responded and explained your reasoning for their experience can have a huge impact, sometimes to the point that the reviewer will take down their negative review or revise it.
All in all, try to make it right if you can, even if you followed procedures in line with your policy. Always show that you care - most of the time that is all they want.
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