Did you know that 89% of customers read business responses to online reviews? Therefore, responding to online reviews can significantly impact your brand image.
How does response time affect online reputation? Should the approach differ for positive and negative reviews? Do managers need to address every review?
Answering these questions is far from easy, so to help you with responding to online reviews, we decided to prepare a short guide and cover the most important questions.
Let’s get started.
Why responding to online reviews is important
With fierce competition, almost every business is claiming to have the best possible products and services. But do customers still believe in it? No. That’s why you’ll see that some of the most common online searches are those that contain the company name and reviews. Or, said in numbers - 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
To emphasize the importance of online reviews, let’s mention also the following:
- Consumers tend to read around 10 online reviews before making the final decision;
- According to BrightLocal, while making a decision, 57% of customers is considering only the businesses rated with 4 stars or higher
Let’s quickly demonstrate this:
In some cases, Google only shows businesses that have a ranking above 4. While this might be a bit unfair to those close to 4-stars reviews, it still makes sense. As with every other piece of content, Google is looking to provide the users with the best possible information. In this case, the reviews will be taken as a piece of information that can address the inquiry “best restaurants near me” in the best possible way.
Places, products, and services with a higher number of reviews will be displayed first. That’s also very important because customers have a short attention span and are not so willing to endlessly scroll through many possibilities. They’ll most likely focus on the first couple of options seeing that other people rated them as well. This will help them make their own decision after reading the reviews.
So, besides investigating the product's features, customers are usually basing their purchasing behavior on online reviews.
Nowadays, businesses can’t afford to have unanswered reviews present everywhere. Bear in mind that we didn’t say negative reviews, but reviews in general. If a company wants to create good online reputation management, responding to online reviews is a must.
It's always nice to read positive reviews
Who doesn’t love compliments? Not only is it nice to hear some lovely words, but it’s also a sign that your business is on the right track.
It’s a common misconception that positive reviews are easy to respond to. Believe it or not, responding to online reviews, even to the positive ones, requires time and effort. Some time ago, answering positive reviews with short, generic answers was the usual principle. Now, however, a simple “thank you” is far from enough. Customers see those answers as your way of getting an easy way out, and just tickling them out of your list, without being truly thankful for their review and opinion.
Okay, so the right approach should be writing more extensive responses, right? Well, yes and no.
While you should avoid short answers, you also don’t want to overdo them. This is especially important if you’re trying to add some promotional sentences to your response. These usually harm leaving future reviews, so it would be smart to avoid them.
Tip: Prepare a couple of general answers to positive reviews that can easily be adapted to different reviews. Try avoiding using promotional language and keep your focus on the review. You want people to feel the conversational tone behind your answer. Starting the response with a simple Hello, “customer name” is always a good idea!
What about the negative ones?
This is where things can get a bit tricky.
Negative reviews can have a damaging effect on your business because they can lead to losing potential customers. Hence, you wouldn't be wrong in thinking that negative reviews are even more important than positive ones.
No one likes to hear criticism, but it’s inevitable, especially if the customer number is increasing. We understand that the first idea is to just ignore bad comments, but that’s not recommended at all.
Of course, there will be bots who are leaving negative reviews everywhere, people who are actually not so dissatisfied with your product but just have a bad day, or people who indeed have some concrete objections.
So, how should you address them all?
First of all, make sure to address those reviews as soon as possible. No one wants to wait, especially if they’re facing some problem. Making an angry customer wait will only make him angrier. At the same time, other customers will get the impression that you’re not so agile in responding.
While providing a prompt answer is important, formulating the answer properly is crucial.
Avoiding short answers is mandatory in case of negative reviews.
Responding to negative reviews is closely connected to improving complaint management. If a negative review reflects some problem, your answer needs to address that issue. Additionally, that requires tailored answers. By addressing the reviewer’s issue, you’re giving the impression that they’re heard and that their problems will be taken care of. It’s also important to address these kinds of reviews as soon as they appear.
Tip: When answering negative reviews, taking an individual approach is crucial. If a customer is facing some problem due to your mistake, own up to it, and try offering ways of solving the situation. Moreover, answering with politeness and empathy will facilitate the conversation.
Responding to online reviews should always show the company’s will for taking a proactive approach.
How often should you reply?
According to a Harvard Business Review study, companies who are continuously communicating with their customers tend to get around 12% more reviews. Of course, more reviews in total mean more negative ones as well, but that shouldn’t worry you. Customers don’t focus so much on each case, but more on the general impression.
Your reviews must be up to date. Did you know that 40% of customers only read the reviews left in the last two weeks? And experts predict that this trend will continue.
Therefore, you should try to be as agile as possible. Responding to online reviews should be timely, so as soon as you see the review and prepare the answer, you should update it.
There is another interesting fact about responding to online reviews. Have you heard about the “Adult in the room” theory? This means that by often participating in the communication, you’ll see a drop in generic, negative reviews. If a customer knows that somebody takes time to read their reviews, they are less likely to leave a trivial negative comment. This behavior is similar to what kids do when they know that someone is watching them. So, that makes you the “adult in the room”.
So many reviews! How to keep track of it all?
Responding to online reviews can easily become overwhelming. Keeping track of all reviews on your business's social media channels and other platforms is almost impossible to do manually.
That’s why it would be useful to have help from an online review aggregator. Online review aggregators are based on advanced data crawling/scraping API services. This enables them to scrape even the most complex websites. One of the tools that can help you perform this task is justLikeAPI.
These tools will help you with the following:
- Performing login on a specific platform (on behalf of a particular user)
- Fetching all comments from a specified user's profile
- Responding to online reviews
Responding to online reviews is a crucial part of your online reputation management. Although it may not seem like it, communicating with clients through reviews is very important.
In this way, you create a more natural image of your brand and customers perceive you as someone close to them. If the customer has taken the time to leave either a positive or negative review, it’s your responsibility to respond to it. Both satisfied and dissatisfied customers will share their experience not only online, but also offline, with their family and friends. As a result, the reputation of your brand becomes a lot broader.
Now that you know how important responding to online reviews is, waste no time in doing it. Customers are waiting for your feedback! 🙂