Frequently Asked Questions
Responding to reviews is an excellent way to build goodwill and learn from some of your most engaged customers. On SiteJabber you can respond both publicly and privately to all your reviews.
That said, responding to reviewers should be done with great care. Even the best of intentions can be misinterpreted in an online message. With that in mind, SiteJabber has developed some tips for you to successfully engage your customers and compose just the right message to achieve the results you desire.
To start with, a few easy ones, we find it pays to remember:
- Your reviewers are your customers
- Your reviewers are people too, complete with feelings and sensitivities that can be unpredictable
- Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated and will continue to be so long after their review is published
Responding to positive reviews isn’t as easy as it might at first seem.
In responding to a positive reviewer your primary goal should be to give them a brief, friendly, personal thank you that lets them know that you care about them as a customer. Mistakes we often see include long cut-and-paste form messages, offers of free stuff that can feel like bribes, complaints about minor criticisms, mailing list requests, requests to "spread the word". All these tactics can turn off your positive reviewers – think about how you would feel as a reviewer – you’d just like a simple thank you too. Don’t forget this customer already likes you, so just say hello and a quick thanks.
Admittedly, this is much harder than responding to a positive review.
First, take a deep breath. Then think carefully about what you’d like to say. Sometimes the most effective response is to simply thank the reviewer for their feedback and patronage.
It’s painful to get a negative review, especially if you run a small business. It can even feel like a personal attack.
On the positive side, by engaging your reviewer and establishing a real human connection, you can often help the situation and perhaps even change the customer’s mind. We’ve seen time and again positive outcomes from positive, proactive businesses owners engaging grumpy customers. You’d be surprised how often a polite response to a bad review can result in the reviewer giving your business a second chance.
A note of caution: if a reviewer perceives your response to be condescending, rude or insincere, it’s possible they will get angry and cut-and-paste their review all over the internet.
In conclusion: try to keep your response short and polite; thank them for their business and feedback. If you can respond directly to the customer’s experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go far in earning trust and a second chance.
Public comments are a way for website owners to add a helpful comment to a customer’s review. Responding to reviewers’ concerns shows that you value their feedback and that you’re always striving to improve.
To write a public comment on behalf of your website, visit your reviews page here.
Be sure to keep your comments simple and polite. Reviewers appreciate honesty and like to know when changes are made based on their feedback.
Also it’s worth noting that it doesn’t always make sense to comment. If you’re upset, you might write something that will reflect poorly on your website. Wait until you’ve had some time to think about a review; there may be legitimate concerns brought up in the review that you can address in a constructive way.
If you want to thank someone for a positive review, consider sending a private message.
Please don’t use public comments to make personal attacks, advertise, or offer incentives to change review.
You can, although we’ve found it’s often most effective to attempt to resolve issues through private messaging first. If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your case as simply and politely as possible, and do not attack the reviewer under any circumstances. Remember that other potential customers will be reading your comment and you want to leave them with a positive impression of your business.
You can’t please all of your customers all of the time, no matter how good of a job you do. Negative reviews are an unfortunate but completely normal part of doing business.
While it’s important to look for patterns in your reviews (e.g., your site is hard to navigate or that a particular customer service rep is rude), you shouldn’t read too much into any one review. Most SiteJabber visitors are looking for a consensus among all of the reviews they read rather than to focus on any one review, so you should do the same.
Also, you can always send the reviewer a private message or post a public response, but it’s important to note that responding to criticism with criticism of your own will most likely work against you.
We don’t arbitrate disputes, but you can contact the reviewer or post a public response in order to clear up any misunderstandings. If it is clear on the face of the review that it violates the Review Guidelines (e.g., the reviewer uses a racial slur), you can flag the review to bring it to our attention.
One of three things:
- The reviewer may have deleted it. While this doesn’t happen often, this typically occurs when someone closes their SiteJabber account.
- The review may have been removed by the SiteJabber staff for violating the Review Guidelines or our Terms of Service.
- The review is currently being filtered by SiteJabber’s automated filtering software. This is a routine function of our automated software and affects every website on SiteJabber. You can read more about the process below.
The total rating of any business is a weighted average of individual ratings, with 50% of the weighting coming from the average rating of all reviews, 25% of the weighting coming from an average of all reviews written in the last 12 months, and 25% of the weighting coming from an average of all reviews written in the last month. Should the 12-month or 1-month weighting periods be without reviews, that period is assigned an “average” rating (e.g. 3 stars) in the weighting.
This rating system was put into place to reflect the principle that more recent reviews are more valuable to consumers than older ones. The system was also created in response to consumer demand that ratings ought to reflect the most recent practices of a business, and business demand that improvements to service should be more accurately reflected in ratings. This system has been successfully rolled out to the over 50,000 businesses reviewed on SiteJabber.
In an effort to show consumers only the most relevant reviews, in 2010 SiteJabber introduced a Review Filter. The filter uses an algorithm that attempts to display to users only the most relevant content by filtering certain reviews. Reasons reviews might be filtered include: suspected solicited reviews in violation of our terms of service, suspected site-promotion spam (positive reviews), suspected competitor spam (negative reviews), language use, irrelevant content, and other terms of service violations. The same filter and algorithm is applied to every website. The filter isn’t perfect, but it is dynamic and always learning. As a result, you may see reviews move in and out of the filter as the filter learns more about the trustworthiness of the reviews of a particular site. The filter pulls from a wide range of data and is intentionally difficult to decipher to avoid gaming. If your review has been filtered, don’t worry, it hasn’t been deleted. As you continue to demonstrate your trustworthiness and contribute to the community, your reviews will likely no longer be filtered.
SiteJabber takes fake reviews very seriously and does four important things to prevent them:
- We run sophisticated software that spots and removes fake reviews. The software identifies characteristics that might indicate a review is fake (e.g., evidence that more than one review has been written by the same person), and then removes those reviews. This software is always improving and gets better as time goes on.
- We have a Review Team that manually spot checks reviews for fakes. Unfortunately due to the large number of reviews we get we cannot manually read everything but we try to get to as much as we can.
- Our community flags reviews that look suspicious so our Review Team can then look more carefully at the suspicious reviews. Community involvement in fighting fake reviews is critical for us.
- We seek to educate companies and consumers about the dangers of fake reviews and how to spot them. Please read 4 things you need to know before reading reviews and What is review fraud?
SiteJabber takes review fraud seriously. Writing or paying for fake reviews is unethical, against SiteJabber’s terms and is illegal in many jurisdictions. New York’s Attorney General recently fined 19 companies $350,000 for violations associated with fake reviews. SiteJabber uses software algorithms, community reporting and other methods to aggressively detect and remove fake reviews. If a company is discovered to be writing or paying for fake reviews they may lose access to their SJ Business Suite Account, have their business publicly flagged as manipulating reviews and be demoted in SiteJabber search.
All SiteJabber review collection tools for businesses must be used to collect reviews from unbiased samples of customers. Businesses may not select customers that might be more likely to write positive reviews and you may not offer incentives to write positive reviews (although it is acceptable for businesses to offer incentives to write reviews if customers receive the incentive irrespective of whether their reviews are positive or negative). Any violation of any of these terms may result in the loss of access to SJ Business Suite Accounts.
We work hard to eliminate fake reviews on SiteJabber. However, if you believe a review is not from a real customer, there are 4 things you can do:
- Offer a polite resolution to the reviewer’s issue via private message in exchange for his or her order information. If you don’t hear back after 72 hours, report the review and we can remove it. Note: this needs to be done within 30 days of a review being written for the review to be removed by SiteJabber, but the reviewer can always remove or edit their own review. Private message reviewers
- Report reviews that clearly violate one of SiteJabber’s Review Guidelines. Content that can be removed this way generally contain personal attacks (hate speech, bigotry, lewdness), conflicts of interest, second hand experiences, reviews placed on the wrong site and personal information of business employees. Read the review guidelines and report reviews here
- Collect reviews from verified customers. We offer 2 review collection tools that allow you to attach an Order or Customer ID to each review request so you’ll always know which one of your reviews belongs to which customer. Collect reviews from verified customers
- Require an Order ID on each new review. This makes it easier to connect reviews with customers and provide service if necessary. Feature can only be used with new reviews. Enable Order IDs
Consumers have the right to review their experiences at whatever websites they visit. We don’t remove website listings, so your best bet is to engage with your fans and critics alike, and hear what they have to say.
No. However, if you are affiliated with a website and would like to respond to a review, you can do so by visiting your reviews page here.
"Reputation management" companies often charge a fee and claim to remove negative reviews or boost ratings to manipulate your online reputation – these companies have no influence over what appears on SiteJabber. If you’ve been contacted by someone offering similar "reputation management services" please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know so we can prevent them from preying on other website owners.
Nobody likes to get a negative review, and it’s even worse if you think it violates your legal rights. But a good lawyer will tell you the truth: defamation suits are notoriously expensive and difficult to win. Worse still, they are very public. We can point to countless examples of ill-advised lawsuits that hurt the business far more than it ever helped. Nor will you get far by bringing SiteJabber into the dispute since SiteJabber acts as a forum like any other where people can share their views. The law is well-settled on this point, but you are welcome to ask any internet attorney to confirm. There may be rare cases when it’s appropriate to take legal action, but in most cases, you won’t get what you are looking for by suing someone who gives you a bad review. It’s also important to note that you may also run a risk of the Anti-SLAPP statute requiring you to pay attorneys’ fees to the other side.