Garnering local, online reviews of your business is helpful from both an SEO standpoint, and for boosting your brand’s credibility in the eyes of other potential customers. With building a solid online presence being more significant than ever for a businesses’ success, consumers are turning to online reviews for the overwhelming majority of their purchasing decisions. In fact, according to a 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, a whopping 97 percent of consumers were reading online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12 percent looking for a local business online every day. Many business owners understand that online reviews are important, but knowing how to respond to them can be a bit of a gray area. However, responding to online reviews of your business is not a task you should ignore.
Why is responding to online reviews of your business important?
Responding to online customer reviews indicates to your customers that you are paying attention to what they have to say and that you value their opinions. It lets them acknowledge that there is a living, breathing person behind the computer screen on your end with whom they can communicate and shows that you are willing to put in the effort to heed your customers’ praise, advice and/or complaints.
Should I respond to both positive and negative reviews?
The answer is definitely yes. Acknowledging positive reviews is good for promoting your brand, while responding to negative reviews indicates that you are willing to address an issue head on rather than brush it under the rug.
Responding to positive reviews is not difficult. The core of the message should be thanking them and expressing that you are glad they had a positive experience with your business. Responding to negative reviews, however, can be a bit trickier. Employ these tips for responding to online reviews of your business the next time you are having trouble finding the most appropriate and effective words.
- Respond rationally. It’s never fun to get a negative review of your business, so seeing one can certainly stir up some emotions. Before taking to angrily typing a response, take a step back for a minute. Stay calm, take a breath and let your initial reaction—whether it be anger, defensiveness, shock—subside. Only respond when you are ready to do so rationally.
- Address the problem. When you get a negative review, that likely means that the customer had a less-than-ideal experience with your business. Whether you deem it a huge problem or not (or even a real issue at all), from the customer’s perspective, something went wrong, which means you need to address it. After all, without your customers, your business is nonexistent. Avoid putting up a defensive stance in your response. Instead, apologize for what went wrong and let the customer know that you plan to look into the issue so that it does not happen again in the future. If it applies, you could even offer the customer incentive to come back (i.e., if a product broke as soon as they got it home, invite them to come pick up another one free of charge).
- Keep your response brief. The review response space is not the place for you to write a rambling novel on how you feel. Yes, you need to acknowledge the customer feedback, but brevity is your friend in this situation. It gives the customer less room to argue back to your response. It does not look good to others reading to see a snarky back-and-forth discussion between the business and another customer.
- Have a coworker proofread your response. In the event that you do get emotions involved in your response, it can help to have a coworker proofread what you wrote before sending it. Another set of eyes may pick up on the fact that you sound a little too assertive and you need to change your tone, for example.
- Plan canned responses. Along the same lines, you can also prepare a set of standard responses to make it easier for you when responding to reviews. This can apply to both positive and negative ones. For example, for a response to a positive review: “Thank you so much for your feedback. We are glad to hear that you had a positive experience with us.” Or, for a response to a negative review: “Thank you for your feedback. We apologize that your experience with us was less than ideal. We invite you to call or email us to discuss this issue further. We will use this information toward our efforts to improve our overall customer experience.”
- Invite the reviewer to discuss with you offline. Sometimes, a short and sweet response is not going to be enough to assuage a negative reviewer. Instead of delving deeper and deeper into a potential argument in the public view, invite the reviewer to discuss the issue with you via phone call, email or even in person. This still shows the person that you care about their feelings, but it prevents things from getting out of hand in the review space.
Online reviews can do wonders for your business in terms of where it appears in search and whether or not potential customers decide to patronize you or not. Responding to online reviews of your business is just another critical part of the process in that it can encourage others to leave reviews and give evidence of an open line of communication between you and your consumers.
If you need help managing your business’ reviews, the McNutt & Partners team can help! Call us today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.