How to Respond to Online Reviews

In today’s business world, online reviews play a critical role. In fact, 63% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase from a website that has user reviews. For most buyers, an online review can be as important as a personal recommendation from a friend. For a business, managing online reviews quickly and appropriately is crucial to attracting new customers and growing sales.

Online Review Statistics and Trends

Just how powerful are online reviews? ReviewTrackers recently conducted their annual survey to gauge current trends. Here are some of the top highlights:

  • 63% of consumers say they turn to Google for online reviews before visiting a business
  • 53% of customers expect a response to negative reviews within a week
  • 94% have avoided a business because of a negative review
  • 80% say they don’t trust businesses with less than a four-star rating online

The good news? ReviewTrackers found that overall, online reviews are getting more positive. Sites like Facebook and Google are making it easier for consumers to leave reviews, meaning they aren’t just taking the time to leave one when they’re really upset about something.

Responding To Negative Reviews

By properly managing negative reviews, a company can mitigate their effect.

  1. Respond quickly. Take ownership of the issue by writing a short reply that demonstrates you are aware of the problem. Don’t be defensive and don’t make excuses. The purpose of your reply is to regain the customer’s trust.
  2. Apologize. Offer a sincere apology aimed at getting the customer to consider giving you another chance. Accept responsibility for the customer’s negative experience even if it wasn’t your fault.
  3. Make things right. Thank the customer for their feedback and describe the specific steps you are taking to fix the issue or how the issue has been resolved. Consider how your response will be perceived by prospective customers.

Additional Tips On Responding To Bad Reviews

  • Take it offline. Contact the customer in a private message or provide them with contact information for a customer service representative. If you want to offer the customer a free meal, discounted services or a gift certificate, it’s best to do so offline to avoid having others try to take advantage of the opportunity to leave bad reviews in hopes of getting something free in return.
  • Offer to Make Things Right. Depending on your industry and the nature of the customer’s complaint, offer ways to satisfy the customer. You could offer to replace the product, refund their purchase, provide a certificate for free services or offer a store credit as compensation.
  • Ask for a second chance. Ask your customer to give your business a second chance and encourage them to come back by offering a discount on a future purchase.

A Note About Positive Reviews

While it’s important to respond to negative reviews, responding to positive reviews also has its merits. Here’s why:

  1. It’s polite. Show the public you are gracious and appreciate that a customer took the time to leave you a positive review.
  2. Free publicity. 92% of consumers read online reviews. Your reply will be seen by potential customers, and it’s a good opportunity to subtly include a bit of marketing.
  3. Better search rankings. When you reply to an online review, it can improve the ranking of the review, which can increase the chances that it will show up in search results.

Best Practices for Responding to Positive Reviews

  1. Say thank you. Respond to something the reviewer said. If they complimented an employee or how your product resolved a problem they were having, mention it in your response.
  2. Use specifics. When you specifically mention the name and location of your business, it helps improve brand recognition for potential customers and search engines.
  3. Toot your horn. Remember that online reviews will be read by prospective customers, so mention something that distinguishes your brand from your competition. You can also mention special programs, such as loyalty cards, or upcoming promotions and events.

Online reviews are a fact of life in the 21st century. Properly handling both negative and positive reviews is critical to keeping current customers happy and providing prospective customers with confidence in doing business with you.

Get Started Today

  • Develop a plan for monitoring your online reviews. There are several tools available to help you do this, but one of the easiest ways is to set up a Google alert.
  • Make a plan for dealing with negative reviews. Time is of the essence, so it’s important to have a strategy ready to go when a negative review is posted.
  • Assign someone to respond to reviews in a timely manner and to ensure the continuity and consistency of your messaging.