Why and How to Respond to Online Reviews
Good. Glowing. Negative. Unfair. Online reviews take on all shapes and sizes. But, regardless of their tone, the answer to your question is… Yes! Replying to reviews benefits your business in a big way. Let’s look at the why, the wins, and the how-to of review responses done right for both negative and positive reviews.
- The Benefits of Replying to Reviews
- How to Prioritize Review Responses
- Best Practices for How to Respond to Negative Reviews
- Tips for How to Respond to Positive Reviews
Top Benefits of Replying to Reviews
There are many benefits that come from replying to customer reviews but the following reasons sit at the top of the list because they are strategic and offer a long-term business impact.
- Exceed Customer Expectations
If you’re not replying to reviews, you’re falling short of your customers’ expectations. 86% of users who complain expect a response within 3 days. Putting a process in place for your business to reply to customers will help you to meet, or even better, exceed their expectations.
- Seize an Opportunity to Influence
Replying to customer reviews gives your business the opportunity to provide additional information, give context, offer perspective, and support the reviewer. Business replies do double-duty. They serve the customer writing the review and influence shoppers who read them to buy from you.
- Make a Connection
Humans are social creatures. Especially those who reach out to your business by leaving a review. Acknowledging their sentiment and offering a reply validates your customer, their effort, and creates a feel-good connection to your brand. Replying to Google reviews has an added bonus. Google now sends an email alert to the reviewer that informs them of your reply. The customer gets an instant rush from recognition and you get another impression for your brand.
- Get Better Ratings
A study from Harvard Business Review showed businesses who replied to customer reviews experienced 12% more reviews. Ratings also increased an average of 0.12 stars which could mean an addition of a 1/2 star to your rating.
How To Prioritize Review Responses
Should I respond to reviews? Which reviews do I respond to? The answer to these common questions is… ALL of them. You earned them. Good and bad they are yours to benefit from.
If you have the resources to respond to the volume of reviews you receive then, by all means, respond to all of them. If you don’t have the resources to respond to them all, we have a plan for that too. Follow this outline on how to prioritize what reviews you respond to.
- First, reply to ALL Negative Reviews then…
- 1st-party reviews (direct to your business from the customer)
- Other online review sites in your industry
Reply to All Negative Reviews
If you do nothing else, make responding to all negative to neutral reviews your top priority. To do this well, ensure the person replying to reviews has the authority to solve problems and offer solutions. Showing empathy for the situation and being respectful is vital to successful response management, but providing action is at the core of what the customer wants.
Reply to 1st-party Reviews (Direct Feedback from Your Customer)
No matter the sentiment of a 1st-party review, it’s like a text from your BFF. Don’t leave them hanging. If a customer cares enough to reach out, show them some love. After all, good communication is what lasting relationships are made of.
Our all-in-one review management tool, RocketReviews, allows you the option to respond to your customers either publicly or privately. If you choose private, your response is only emailed to them and then saved in their customer profile. If you choose to publicly respond, your reply is posted to the Review Widget on your website as well as emailed to the customer and saved to their profile.
Replying to Google Reviews Gives Your Response Reach
Google is the world’s most popular search engine and you’ll notice it’s serving reviews with almost every search in many of its results.
Responding to Google reviews has many benefits. It shows consumers you value reviews and the time they took to write one. When customers see that reviews matter to your business, they are encouraged to leave one too leading to more reviews that improve your local search ranking.
Google also emails your response to the customer when you reply giving you an additional touch point with your customer. Use RocketReviews to respond to Google reviews directly. With little effort, you can use Google’s reach to give your reply extra lives.
Be Social with Replies to Facebook Recommendations
Facebook is a social platform providing opportunity for engagement and conversation. The switch from reviews to recommendations introduced a text modal to the recommendation process. The change prompts more review content to be posted by users, inviting business replies.
The example Facebook Recommendation reply from Evelyn’s Wine Bar below shows great personalization as the staff remembered the customer came in with her daughters, that’s a level of service customers seek out.
Reply to Reviews Left on Industry Review Sites to Create Conversation
There are many niche review platforms for industries. We monitor over 50 of them. Responding to reviews in industry platforms meets your customers where they are, makes you a part of the conversation, and leaves a trail back to your business.
Depending on your industry, these sites can be really important. If you are a hotel or bed and breakfast, then responding to your TripAdvisor reviews is a must. Make sure you know where your customers are talking about you, and reviewing you, so you can take part.
Best Practices for How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Negative reviews can be hard to receive. But, often they can be a buying signal that a customer wants to continue to do business with you. They wanted you to be the solution to their problem but you fell short. So, they shared their negative feelings with you and hope for a resolution.
Replying to negative reviews can be daunting so approach the complaint as an attempt by the customer to reconcile their feelings and that they want to continue to do business with you. See it as an opportunity, take a deep breath, and follow these tips for responding to negative reviews.
Prepare an Educated Response and Solution
- Process the negative review content. Thoroughly read the review and use the information provided to research the issue internally. Follow any internal processes, get the right people involved, and verify what solutions you are able to offer. Then, offer a solution.
Respond Promptly and Publicly
- Over 55% of consumers expect a business to reply to a review within 1 day and over 30% expect a response within 3 days. Negative reviews especially demand a swift reply and resolution to show care and action from the business. When the review is left publicly, respond publicly. It’s an opportunity to show consumers you’re capable and willing to right a wrong.
Show Gratitude, Take Responsibility, Be Empathetic, and Apologize
- Thank the reviewer for their time bringing this matter to your attention. Acknowledge what happened and resulted and take responsibility. Empathize with the customer’s feelings and apologize for what took place. Then, extend an invitation to engage in further discussion.
Offer a Solution Unique To the Situation
- Show effort and commitment to the reviewer by offering a solution that solves the issue at hand. A 5% discount on your next order may not be an adequate amend to failing a customer today.
Here is a great negative review reply example from Austin Bike Tours. Their response to a 2-star review showed empathy, a solution and they owned the problem. They already have a great reputation with a 4.8 rating over 49 reviews, but this response shows they care and will make things right when they do fall short (which appears to be rarely).
Tips for how to Respond to Positive Reviews
Responding to positive reviews is a great opportunity to build a connection to your brand and make people feel good about being a part of it. Many businesses skip this or overlook it, but you can build a lot of goodwill with your brand fans by responding.
Think of it this way… You’ve invited all these people to your party, and this person showed up. Welcome them! Nobody likes to be left standing awkwardly wondering where to set down the casserole. Follow these tips to write an inviting reply to a positive review.
Be Welcoming and Grateful
- Greet and thank the reviewer by name. Be enthusiastic and use a conversational tone that aligns with your brand.
Show Genuine Interest
- To show you’re engaged in the conversation, comment on a detail from the review. This is an easy way to add variety to your review replies and show your customers that you’re reading what they have to say and responding to them uniquely. No canned responses here.
Be of Service to Add Value
- Based on the review, provide information the reviewer may be interested in. Let them know about a new menu item coming soon or give a reminder of an important date. Preview an upcoming offer, sale, or event and invite them to participate. Being of service adds value on top of positive customer experience, and gives future customers insight into how you do business.
Seattle Boat Company does a great job in the example below of responding to their happy customer’s 5-star review. They took the time, it’s a personalized response, and they even reinforced some of their company values for future prospects to read.
RocketReviews Helps Grow Your Business
RocketReviews, our feedback-first customer review management system, makes it easy to gather and promote customer feedback. Schedule a demo to see how easy it is to build your brand and grow your business.