Silence is Deafening: Any Response is Better Than None

portrait of multicultural young business people covering parts of faces isolated on white

Let’s get one thing clear from the start – we’re not here to advocate poor responses. But even a bad response is better than no response at all, at least in the world of reputation management.

Yes, there are plenty of daily-life instances when it’s better to say nothing at all. But from a public relations perspective, silence certainly isn’t usually golden. With regard to online reviews, numerous studies have concluded that even poor responses from the company being reviewed reflect better than silence.

A recent high-profile example sheds light as to why. In the NFC championship game, the Los Angeles Rams benefitted from an egregious no-call that helped them beat the New Orleans Saints. The uproar in New Orleans was exceedingly strong and justified in the eyes of many.

Anyhow, the NFL didn’t reach out to the Saints for more than a week after the referee blunder. The Saints didn’t truly believe anything drastic was going to be done, such as replaying the final moments of the game. Odds are, the Saints weren’t going to be satisfied with any explanation, but they wanted to hear something.

That’s why Saints quarterback Drew Brees was displeased with the silence and was very public about it after the NFL finally commented 10 days later. Brees noted that his team “deserved a response of some kind” on the day or two following the game.

So let’s extrapolate that to an online review. Oftentimes, consumers are venting and, more than anything, they want to be heard. So, even if your company comes back with a cold response saying, “no, we’re not going to offer a refund in this instance” or something of the sort, the reviewer will know that his or her concerns had been relayed and weren’t entirely ignored. Even more important, the prospective renter reading the response will know that you were at least listening and willing to respond.

Naturally, a proactive, friendly response that genuinely addresses the concern is the best route. But anything shy of an expletive-laden comeback generally reflects better than a blank page. And that’s both to the reviewer and those reading the reviews, the latter of which should also be considered your target audience. How you respond – or if you do at all – might make the difference on whether prospective renters will utilize your services.

Responding to all reviews has the added benefit of improving your local SEO, although that’s a topic for another blog. Before you dig into the how and why, much of which we’ve covered in several other blogs, start with the notion that all reviews should be responded to in some form.

After all, you don’t want your company to get publically called out in Brees-esque fashion.

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