How to Respond to Customer Reviews

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Reviews are crucial to the success of your business as 93% of customers base their purchasing decisions on consumer reviews. If your overall review rating falls below 3.3 stars, consumers won’t engage with your business. 

Positive/Negative reviews vs. Buying Decisions

Your responses to your company’s reviews play an equally important role in consumer engagement, influencing purchasing decisions. When you fail to respond, you send a message that you do not care about your customers. Businesses who encourage consumer feedback have higher rates of engagement with their customers, however asking for reviews might feel awkward or even a tad needy. The truth is that consumers are looking for social validation regarding your products or services and you need to be able to show them why you stand apart from the competition. 

Reviews are an excellent marketing strategy as they display your accountability to your customers. The way you respond to and resolve negative reviews can have a positive influence on potential new consumers. Your responses show that you are serious about remaining accountable to those who purchase from you and that you take their feedback seriously.

  • Reviews (social validation) inform consumers regarding reliable, reasonable facts at a glance.

  • The greater the amount of positive reviews, the greater the chance that prospective customers will be influenced to purchase from you.

  • Reviews can result in high search engine ranking. For example, Google ranks business with more retweeted Twitter tweets higher than those with less.

  • Reviews generally result in contact sharing which means increased traffic to your business website. 

Customers who have enjoyed a positive experience with your business will generally be eager to leave a great review. Your response to reviews plays an important role in leveraging your online reputation in order to grow your business.   

Responding to a review can feel intimidating. You want to express genuine gratitude, yet you don’t want to gush. The process is easier than you think and you don’t need to be an award-winning author in order to communicate gracious, genuine gratitude in a brief response. For example, Andy purchased a product from your new camera store, resulting in a positive review:

“I’m delighted with my new product! A wonderful clerk named James was only too happy to assist me in your store. He took the time to listen and went through a variety of options well suited to my needs. I’m really glad I listened to his expertise!  I couldn’t be happier with my new camera and I got some excellent shots of Venice!”

This review makes you proud of your business, products and your new employee of the month, James. You are ever so grateful for Andy’s purchase and his raving review of your business is priceless. You want to respond with gratitude and the temptation to drone on and on about how happy you are for this new customer is real.  Here is the rule of thumb for responding to a review: be brief.  It doesn’t mean you should come across as cold or short.  Here is what you do:

  1. Use Andy’s name.

  2. Be grateful and show it.

  3. Respond to specific details in the review.

  4. Andy gave you value with the review, respond in kind.

  5. Be grateful again.

  6. Say goodbye.

Ideally, your response should look like this: “Hi, Andy! Thanks so much for your kind words and thoughtful  review. I remember your visit to our store on _______. I’m delighted that you are happy with your new camera! I know you were hoping for some great shots of the famous canals!  We look forward to seeing you again soon!”  All reviews and their responses should read as a conversation between business and consumer. Unfortunately, your business will accrue negative reviews here and there.  It is inevitable, as not every customer will have a stellar experience with your business. While negative reviews can feel crippling to the success of your business, failure to respond to them can only lead to paralysis. Even negative reviews can be leveraged as marketing and branding opportunities.  
  • Thank the customer for leaving the review.

  • Acknowledge the issue and apologize sincerely.

  • Empathize with the customer.

  • Take the conversation offline. If you have access to the customer’s email address or phone number, continue the conversation via those methods.  Phone calls are a serious notch above emails.

  • Offer a reasonable solution or remedy that is agreeable to the customer.

Remember, it isn’t so much the review that can make or break you as it is your company’s response to the review. You are not replying to a single review, but to an entire audience of readers which include potential customers. Seize the opportunity to right the wrong because your response shows audience readers that you don’t neglect customers and you take their concerns seriously, ensuring the problem won’t happen again. The best response to a negative review will occur quickly and strategically. When consumer concerns are immediately met by a genuinely concerned response, negative reviews can often be converted back into positive reviews. In addition, never include your business name or relevant search keywords in your response as this empowers a review to show up in search results.

Here are a few tips for requesting customer reviews:

  • Ask questions.

How to Ask Better Feedback Questions?

  • Provide multiple options across various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, telephone prompts, your company website, surveys, etc.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask customers directly to write a review.

  • Make the process easy.  Eliminate unnecessary steps.  For example, consider incorporating a direct link on your website.  Don’t make the customer search for the right button on which to click.  Make it an obvious, one-step process.

  • Incentivize reviewers with a gift card, contest or giveaway, but be careful not to bribe customers for positive reviews.

  • Stress the importance of reviews to your employees.

  • Don’t be afraid to follow up. If done considerately and thoughtfully you can increase the chance of a review without bothing your customer. 

Responding to all of your customer reviews is a strategic method of maintaining current consumers while influencing prospective customers to buy from you. Neglecting to do so can result in low consumer retention and loss of potential future profits. Make review responses a daily practice and take charge of your online reputation!