Do you take time out of your schedule to respond to online reviews? Do online reviews matter? How should you tackle an angry customer going berserk on your brand reputation?
With more and more online platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor surfacing on the Internet, business owners now have the challenge to track and respond to each online review customers leave against their company. But, how should you respond to them?
Although most companies hire online reputation management agencies to tackle customer reviews, we will highlight all such and related topics to help you make the most of the customer reviews and testimonials left online.
This post is strictly for business owners new to responding to online reviews and looking to boost customer engagement. So, let’s get started and figure out what we should do on one of those bad-bad days!
Why should you respond to online reviews?
It’s an important question that’s worth a discussion. Why should you even care about responding to online reviews? Does it do any as the customer has already done business with you and left the feedback? To get an answer, we will have to refer to a study from the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.
The study tracked and analyzed the financial performance of several hotels that engaged with the customer reviews and responded to them professionally. Here are some of the results the study claims:
- Responding to online reviews damages financial performance if the hotels have a lot of positive reviews.
- Responding too much to positive reviews might create unnecessary information overload.
- Consumers react negatively to positive reviews that have over-the-top responses from company managers.
- If the hotel has a few positive reviews, responding to all of them will help increase financial performance.
- Responding to online reviews can help boost financial performance, especially if negative reviews dominate the review section.
Besides that, here are some of the most important reasons you should respond to online reviews. Let’s quickly list them before we discuss the art of responding to online reviews, shall we?
- Responding to online reviews shows the world that you care about every customer. If you only respond to positive or negative reviews, it will reveal your bias (profiling) which is not good if you are running a business.
- Responding to online reviews helps increase the lifetime value of your customers. Consider it a golden opportunity to impress an existing customer.
- Optimize the responses with your target keywords, and they will help you bolster your SEO efforts.
- Responding to online reviews shows that you are transparent in how you approach business. It also shows that customers trust you. This can go a long way in improving your business reputation.
- Your responses can even help attract more customers that like reading and leaving reviews.
How to respond to positive reviews?
Responding to positive reviews shouldn’t make you nervous. The customer already likes you! However, you should use this opportunity to thank the customer and encourage them to do more business with you. So, don’t rush into responding.
Follow these tips to make the most out of positive reviews.
1. Thank the customer
Open the response with a quick message thanking the customer. You will want to show your appreciation to the customer for leaving a review. Most importantly, sign off the response with a second note of thanks! It will show how much the review means to you and your business.
2. Personalize the response
Note this tip as it’s extremely important. Personalize the response by making it all about the customer. Start off by addressing the customers by their name and write the response as a fellow human being.
Don’t copy and paste generic responses, and potential customers reading the responses will notice that. You don’t want to come off as lazy, do you?
3. Respond to specific product feel customer mentioned
Most customers will mention their experience about features and parts of the services they liked most. You must target the specific product feel and refer to it in your response as well. Mention how other customers appreciate the feature as well.
Take this opportunity to place a few product-related keywords strategically. Most importantly, keep it authentic and related to the customer review.
4. Offer something of value
Always remember that your response will be read by potential customers. So while you address the individual customer, write the response in a way that engages the potential customer as well. Offer a trial for free or a discount coupon for the next purchase.
You can even add general advice helping customers make the most of your services. We suggest you do this consistently in all your responses.
5. Encourage the customer to come back
Tell the customers that you appreciate the effort they put in to leave feedback. Make them feel heard and encourage them to come back and do more business. This simple tactic can go a long way in building solid customer loyalty across your customer base.
Not just that, it will show that you run a business where you love seeing customers happy.
6. Keep the response short and sweet
Lastly, don’t overburden the response with too much information. Give a nice flow to the response and keep it short. All you are trying to do here is respond with no more than three sentences.
How to respond to negative reviews?
Now that we know how to respond to positive reviews, it’s time we discuss the art of responding to negative ones as these can potentially damage your brand reputation.
Here are some of the strategies you can use to manage negative reviews left against your business online.
1. Take a step back and analyze
Don’t just start writing a response. Take a step back and analyze the situation. We have seen many business owners panicking at this moment and making their response seem desperate.
Take a few minutes to assess the review. Does the review seem baseless? Have you seen this negative review somewhere else as well? Do you think the negative review is promotional? Ask all the right questions to figure out what’s actually going on.
2. Start the response on a happy note
Always start your response to a negative review with a ‘Thank You.’ Thank the customer for leaving a review. After all, every customer feedback helps potential customers understand how you function.
3. Keep your responses professional
You should never take negative reviews personally. These are essentially customer sentiments, and you should embrace them. Business owners should always stay professional and extra cautious while responding to negative reviews
This is because it can sometimes be hard for people to keep their emotions in check. Well, you can even make someone else make the response if you find it hard to control your emotions.
4. Time is of the essence
When someone leaves a negative review about your small business, you will never know how many potential customers you have lost to the review. If online users don’t see a response to the negative review, they will think that you don’t care about customers. Respond to the negative review ASAP.
5. Be direct
While responding to a negative review, don’t make emotions take control over your language and tone. Keep the response direct and to the point. You can do that by figuring out the customer’s pain point and framing a response that attacks the pain point more directly. When you do that, you might even win the customer back in future.
6. Give a public response
Public responses work. They do because they show how professional your company is and the level of transparency that you prefer to share with your potential customers. It really goes a long way in creating a solid business-customer relationship.
7. DM the customer privately
Finally, make sure that you contact the reviewer privately and try professionally resolving the issue. Introduce yourself to the customer and take time to understand the issue. Also, explain your side of the story to the customer and show that you are willing to help. This can even make the customer take the negative review down.
Every review counts, and so does every response. It might take you a few iterations to come up with a solid response. But, believe us, it is worth the effort. Customers are human beings. Just like you, they appreciate it when they feel heard. So, treat them with respect and thank them often when responding to their online review.
Let us know your thoughts! How do you respond to online reviews? Let us know in the comments. Loved reading this post? Don’t forget to check out other informative posts on the blog!