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How to Respond to Online Customer Reviews

How to Respond to Online Customer Reviews

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

You’ve probably seen the statistics: Depending on which source you consult, somewhere between 90 and 97 percent of customers read online reviews before making any kind of purchase. Even if you accept the most conservative number, there’s no getting around the ubiquitous, make-or-break importance of online review sites, which directly affect consumer behavior and thus affect your bottom line, as well.

There are a few implications here for business owners. One, it’s crucial to do everything you can to encourage positive feedback from your satisfied customers. Two, it’s vital to monitor your online reviews, and to have a basic sense of what people are saying about your products, services, and brand. And three, when you do receive reviews, it’s smart to respond to them in an appropriate fashion. This is true whether those reviews are five-star raves or single-star pans.

This last point is often overlooked. Customers will take note of your online reviews, but they’ll also notice what (if anything) your company does to address feedback and to assuage concerns. Simply put, online reviews provide an important and very public forum to deliver high-quality customer service… and in doing so, to bolster your online reputation.

The Importance of Responding to Online Reviews

Just how necessary is it to monitor your online reviews, and to issue a response to each and every one? Consider a recent Brightline survey, which finds that a staggering 89 percent of customers are “highly” or “fairly” likely to do business with a company that takes the time to address its reviews. By contrast, more than half of survey respondents say that they are less likely to choose a business that fails to respond to online feedback.

In other words, the way you respond to online reviews can have a direct impact on consumer perception. One of the best ways to prove that you actually listen to your customers, and genuinely care about providing the best possible experience, is to invest a few minutes into reading and responding to reviews.

Tips for Effectively Responding to Customer Reviews

Of course, the real question is, exactly what do you say to online reviews?

When the reviews are positive, the response is much easier. Should a customer leave a five-star rave, detailing all the ways in which your business met the mark, take just a second to offer a word of thanks. Expressing gratitude is an important way of demonstrating that you don’t take anything for granted, and of acknowledging your need to actually earn the business of your customers and clients.

So, what about bad reviews? You may be tempted to delete or ignore them, but the best strategy is to use bad reviews as an avenue for flexing your customer service muscles. Here are a few general tips for responding to negativity in a fruitful way.

  • Respond promptly. Surveys show that most customers expect to have their reviews addressed within a week. You don’t necessarily have to respond to negative feedback immediately, and in fact, you may need a couple of hours or a couple of days to arrive at a calm and patient headspace. (After all, bad reviews hurt!) However, keep in mind that leaving negative reviews unaddressed for too long does compromise your brand reputation, effectively giving your reviewer the first and last word.
  • Help customers feel heard. It’s important to demonstrate a willingness to hear what your customers are really saying, even when it hurts. Quickly summarizing or reiterating their complaint proves that you’re not just glossing over their frustration.
  • Offer an apology. Even if you don’t necessarily think your team did anything wrong, you can at least acknowledge that you genuinely want customers to have a good experience… and to express how sorry you are when this isn’t the case.
  • Extend service. Finally, and whenever possible, try to make things right. Let customers know when and how they can contact your customer service team. When appropriate, you might even make a public offer to send a replacement product, allowing everyone to see your commitment to providing customers with a positive experience.

The Need for Automation

If all of this sounds time-consuming, that’s because it can be. Vigilant monitoring is a big commitment in and of itself, and that’s to say nothing of actually writing out responses. Fortunately, there are software solutions available that can automate your review monitoring, and provide templates for responding to reviews as they pour in.

At enCOMPASS Agency, we are big believers in the power of online reviews, and in the importance of responding in a timely and professional manner. We’d love to tell you more about our approach, and about the software solutions we make available to our clients. Reach out to the enCOMPASS team whenever you’re ready to chat about online reviews.