How to Respond to Customer Reviews the Smart Way

In this digital age, you simply can’t ignore online reviews. If you do, your brand image can be tarnished and, more importantly, you can lose business. Consumers go to online review sites like Yelp and Google regularly. Consider the following stats:

  • 53 % of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.
  • 63 % say that a business has never responded to their review.
  • 45 % of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.

Read on to learn effective way to respond to customer reviews – the good and the bad.

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Why Respond to Customer Reviews

It’s polite

If a customer gave you a positive or negative review in person, of course you would respond. The same tactic holds true with online reviews. Consumers expect good customer service when spending money on a product or service. If a customer praises your business, it’s simply polite to respond. If they did it in real life, you’d absolutely say “thank you”.

Consumers read online reviews

Studies show that online reviews influence the purchase decisions for 93% of consumers. There’s a good chance that potential customers are searching for your business online and reviews are likely come up in that search.

It’s a way to engage

Customer engagement is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Engaged customers buy more, recommend your business more, and have more loyalty.

It affects your brand’s online image

Consumer perception that your company offers poor quality or service weakens brand image. Positive consumer comments can reflect quality and benefits of your brand, attracting new customers.

Replying gives you an opportunity to make things right

Offering to make things right will demonstrate your genuine desire to engage and solve the problem. The customer will give you a 2nd chance and people reading your reviews will know that you care.

How to Manage Negative Reviews

Respond quickly

Have a system in place to monitor review sites regularly where your business appears. Customers don’t want to wait around to get answers or an apology. Waiting days or even weeks to respond indicate to a customer that they’re not important.

Apologize and sympathize

Getting defensive won’t make you look professional or positive. Offer an apology up front to diffuse the situation right off the bat. For example: “We know your time is valuable and we’re sorry that you had to spend so much time online to correct your order.”

Be authentic, keep it polite

Being authentic means coming from a real place. It’s when your actions and words are in line with beliefs and values. People can sniff out unauthentic responses.

Take responsibility

Here’s where “the customer is always right” comes into play. Own the mistake first, then sympathize and apologize. Do not pass the buck along to your employee or anyone else. That indicates that you don’t care about the people working for you – not a good reflection on your brand.

Offer to make it right

Don’t just apologize and move on. Determine how you can fix the problem described in the bad review. This could mean offering a freebie, a discount, or a do-over.

Move the conversation offline

There’s no need to go back and forth online for everyone to see. Offer contact information and a name so that the customer can directly interact with a person on your team trained to diffuse negative situations.

Ask for a second chance

After you’ve apologized and rectified the situation, ask for a 2nd chance. This expresses confidence in your ability to rectify a situation and get back to the good service every customer expects.

Keep responses short and simple

These days, people consume information in little bites. No one wants to slog through a long response. Get right to the point so your answer is clear.

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How to Manage Positive Reviews

Thank the customer

Time to mind your manners! If you get a good review, thank the customers. They took time to let you know about a positive experience, you should take the time to acknowledge their effort.

Reinforce the positive

Let others know that this isn’t a one-off positive experience. For example, if your staff was complimented, reinforce that by saying something like, “We try to hire the best and the brightest to offer our customers great service 24/7.”

Use business name & keywords

You’re likely aware of the keywords associated with your business. Use those in your response to get SEO advantages and have the good reviews show up in search engines. For example, if you own a flower shop say, “Thank you for coming to Molly’s Flowers. We’re happy you enjoyed our Mother’s Day flower arrangement and fast delivery service.”

Mention other products/services

Use a positive review as a way to showcase other products or services. If you own a bakery, you might write, “We’re so glad you enjoyed our double chocolate cupcake! Have you checked out our savory offerings? We have a number of deli sandwiches on our menu that are also getting rave reviews!”

Invite customer to do something

A simple “please come back and bring a friend” shows that you strive to be consistent and will offer another good experience. And they might actually bring a friend, earning a new customer.

Positive Review Response Example

This restaurant incorporated several elements into their response including a ‘thank you’, a product mention and a bit of marketing. There was also a mention of a “next time” and dish recommendation.

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Negative Review Response Example

A short and sweet response from JetBlue. They acknowledged that the passenger’s experience was less-than-stellar and offered compensation. They also took the conversation off-line to solve.

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Resources

The SmartBiz Small Business Blog has additional articles to help you create a review response policy for your business. Check out the following:

 

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