Consumers look at online reviews everyday to determine where they will conduct business. As a business owner, responding to reviews — both negative and positive — is one of the most effective ways to help improve your ratings and reach potential customers.
Review response is a clear signal that you care about your customer’s experience. Doing so on third-party sites like Facebook and Google puts the quality of your customer service front and center for consumers to see, and can help you stand out from competitors who don’t take the time to reply to feedback. In fact, 30% of potential customers look at review responses when judging a local business — up from 20% last year.
Review response can help:
- Foster increased customer advocacy
- Lead to additional reviews about your business
- Contribute to an increase in your business’s overall star rating
While responding to reviews enables you to nip issues in the bud and provides you with a chance to win over customers, it can be time consuming. If you find yourself tight on time and resources, it can be difficult to keep up when reviews start pouring in.
How to Get the Most Impact from Responding to Reviews
1. Prioritize Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are inevitable. However, ignoring them is no longer an option for business owners. According to Convince & Convert, not answering a customer complaint decreases that customer’s advocacy about your business by as much as 50%.
Take the time to respond to negative reviews (those with one and two star ratings) first. When responding, show that you’re taking what the customer has to say into careful consideration by addressing the specific issue at hand. Apologize for what went wrong. If nothing was wrong, use your response as an opportunity to educate the customer (of course, be careful not to sound patronizing or self-righteous!).
Speedy review response can help turn things around! 67% of customers who receive a response to negative feedback will either delete their original negative review, or post a new positive review.
When you respond to your customers — even when they leave you negative feedback — it can also contribute to an increase in your overall star rating on the review channel. One study showed that companies that respond to online reviews see an average increase of 0.24 stars.
- Prioritize Reviews with Actionable Insights
Respond to detailed reviews with legitimate complaints (or compliments!) before responding to reviews that are vague, short, or without any explanation at all.
2. Reply Quickly
Responding to your reviews in a timely manner is just as important as responding at all. According to Jay Baer’s Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, nearly 40% of all reviewers who anticipate a response expect it to arrive within 60 minutes. However, as a general rule of thumb, it’s best to respond to customer reviews within 24 hours. This allows you to address the issue while it’s still fresh in the customer’s mind.
In general, your most recent reviews are the most visible, giving them maximum exposure to potential customers. Every moment you leave negative feedback unanswered increases the chance that future customers will see this and be turned off from visiting your business. Responding quickly gives you an opportunity to resolve the issue and show your potential customers that you take customer service seriously.
3. Don’t Use Canned Responses
Ensure you respond to reviews in a thoughtful manner and take the time to address the specific issue and person. Responses should also be action-oriented, and most importantly, help to resolve the customer’s issue. Customers can often see through templated responses, so it’s best to avoid these and be as genuine as possible.
When crafting your response, connect to the customer on a human level. Think about how you feel when you write a review or voice an issue in your own life as a consumer. It’s also helpful to know what words to avoid. A strong focus on customer service — and authenticity — is key.