Online reviews have become a powerful tool for consumers seeking advice on purchases and determining if a company is reputable. In fact, according to a Dixa survey, 93% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.
Responding to online reviews is an effective way to manage your online reputation. Many businesses don’t take advantage of the opportunity to respond to online reviews. They miss a chance to share their company’s perspective and demonstrate how much they care about customers and future business.
We’ll explore why businesses must respond to online reviews to strengthen their reputation, and share examples of how to react to both positive and negative online customer feedback.
Here are five reasons why businesses should respond to every customer review:
When you respond to every online review someone posts, you show the world that every customer is vitally important, whether they’re complaining or complimenting your business.
When you get a negative review, you will have one of two instincts:
Responding is the correct instinct. You have a chance to rectify the situation and possibly salvage the customer to earn their repeat business and customer loyalty. Additionally, your prospects will see that you address problems head-on and realize you’re professional and care about your customers.
When you get a positive review, you’ll likely be pleased but may not feel the need to respond since there’s no issue to resolve. However, responding to positive reviews is worthwhile for the following reasons:
Responding to online reviews is a way to boost customer retention. When you respond to customer reviews, you have a golden opportunity to market to existing customers – and returning customers spend more than new customers.
The review platform will likely notify the customer when you respond to their review. Happy clients will feel appreciated and will be more likely to continue buying from your business. Unhappy clients may feel heard and gain a satisfactory resolution to their problems.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs are so focused on acquiring new customers that they ignore existing ones. Expressing your gratitude publicly via an online review response shows customers how much you value them, making them more inclined to continue the relationship and refer new customers.
Every time a customer reviews your business – positively or negatively – it’s an opportunity to build your SEO strategy. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo crawl the internet to find new information to provide users with the most recent and relevant content. When you respond to each customer review, you can add context about your customers’ experiences with your business.
Let’s say you’re a plastic surgeon in Maryland and a happy patient just posted a glowing review online. You could reply:
“Thanks for the great review! We are constantly striving to be the best cosmetic surgeons we can be. I’m so grateful you chose our practice. If you need help or have any questions, call our Maryland office anytime. Remember, you also have my private cell phone number and can reach me anytime, 24/7, if it’s urgent.”
Note the keywords “best cosmetic surgeons” and “Maryland” in the reply. This additional relevant content will enhance the review page’s SEO value, especially for your Google local business listing. Google specifically states in its help system that reviews can improve your listings’ visibility in its results.
Don’t overdo it with the keywords in your replies, though. Otherwise, Google and other search engines may penalize your listing, and you could offend your customer or patient if they feel like your response isn’t authentic. Remember, these responses are public for everyone to see. The good news is you can add to, edit or update your replies anytime.
When you fail to implement online reputation management, you leave yourself vulnerable to attack. All it takes is one or two bad reviews to cripple your business.
However, if you actively market your brand reputation and request online reviews, you can drown a few negative reviews in a sea of positive reviews.
Today’s consumers understand that businesses can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Your competition likely also has a negative review or two. The key is having dozens or hundreds of positive reviews to outweigh the negative ones. When you combine positive reviews with personalized responses to all your reviews, you protect your brand’s reputation.
When people see dozens of positive reviews and an occasional negative review, they are likely to discount the negative review – especially if the business has replied to all reviews with honesty and transparency and takes responsibility for mistakes.
Many times, your responses will attract new customers to your business. When they see you responding to all your clients and observe how you handle difficult situations, they’ll trust you to do a good job – and do the right thing if you don’t.
Online reviews build trust with e-commerce customers. A mix of positive and negative reviews with an average rating between 4.2 and 4.5 stars produces the best results. If all reviews are 5 stars, prospects may suspect they’re bogus.
About 78% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to research from BrightLocal. That’s why it’s critical to implement a reputation marketing strategy that helps you develop trust with prospective customers.
As you earn more reviews for your business and consistently reply to them, prospective customers will understand why they should choose you over your competition. They will see that you care about all your customers. As a result, more people will trust your business, and you will become the clear leader in your marketplace.
When you invite new customers to share reviews about their experiences online, remind them why they chose your company. The odds of a new client posting a review online are good if customer reviews attracted them to your business in the first place.
Don’t just say “Thanks!” or “We appreciate you” when replying to positive online reviews. Instead, personalize your response, showing your customers you took the time to compose a sincere and meaningful reply. The time you invest in writing review responses will yield a positive digital marketing ROI that includes loyal customers and repeat business.
When responding to a positive review, customize the following steps to your company’s personality and brand:
Keeping the above tips in mind, the following is an example of an appropriate response to a positive review:
Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic review. We’re really happy to see that our thorough tax preparation tips and advice have made a difference for you. Feel free to remind us of this review the next time you use our services for 20% off! Thanks again for choosing us. – [Your name]
Most entrepreneurs and business leaders try to satisfy and please their customers. However, no matter how hard you try, your business may be forced to address a negative online review. When this happens, consult trusted advisors with legitimate business experience and acumen before responding. The last thing you want to do is reply in a distressed or angry state.
Negative reviews are more complicated than positive reviews. Often, the complaint is a legitimate issue. Other times, the customer might be unreasonable.
You probably won’t be able to make every customer happy, but prospects will notice your efforts.
Here’s an example of responding to a negative review after your company made a mistake:
Hi, Bob. I’m so sorry you felt as if our customer service representative was rude and unhelpful. We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention so we can take appropriate action. This sort of behavior is not typical, nor does it conform to our high standards for customer care. To make things right, please call 888-372-1000 and ask for Fran, our vice president of customer service, who will work to resolve your issue.
Here’s an example of responding to a negative review from an unreasonable customer:
Hi, Tom. Thank you for letting us know that you were disappointed with the food on your last visit. We’re so sorry that your meal did not match your expectations. The beef stew is a popular dish in our restaurant, but because it’s made with Guinness, it may not be to everyone’s taste. We hope you will visit us again and order something else, like our award-winning shepherd’s pie or fish ‘n chips.
Eric ‘ERock’ Christopher contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.