Online reviews play a pivotal role in shaping, maintaining, and protecting the reputation of businesses and individuals alike. Whether you’re a business owner or a professional seeking feedback, the question often arises: Should you respond to every review… positive or negative?
In short – yes – you should respond to every online review. Whether the review is a song of praise and recognition or stems from a disgruntled customer or envious competitor, a neutral response is better than no response at all. If a customer gave you a compliment in person, of course you’d thank them for their positive feedback. The same concept applies to online business reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook pages.
Buckingham highlights why you should respond to reviews, as well as points of consideration to help you make an informed decision on how and when to respond to positive, negative, and neutral online reviews.
Benefits of Responding to Every Review
Did you know that nearly 97% of consumers that read online reviews also read responses. That’s a lot of eyes gathering information about your brand at a glance! This is a great opportunity for business owners to make a good first impression to prospect customers, improve online ratings, find areas of opportunity to improve customer service, and to present your brand as a transparent, caring business to future customers. Learn more about each below.
- Make a Good First Impression
First impressions go a long way. In fact, BrightLocal reports that 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses before deciding to visit a location, book an appointment, schedule a service, or make a purchase online in 2023. When it comes to online reputation management, there are a few ways you can leave a positive imprint on customers who first interact with your business on these review platforms.
- Stay engaged and regularly respond to both positive and negative reviews.
- Express sincere appreciation for reviewer feedback.
- Maintain a friendly demeanor – even when dealing with negative reviews.
- Protect Your Online Reputation
Let’s be honest – no one wants to receive a 1-star review. Customers may give low reviews for various reasons, but as a business owner, engaging with these negative reviews can frequently lead to the swift resolution of their concerns. Often, the problem stems from a specific aspect of their experience, and when you request a reevaluation after resolving it, they are more inclined to provide an honest and accurate assessment of your service, or even talk about how you helped them work through these issues.
The sooner you address their issues, the more willing they are to reconsider their rating or consider future purchases from your business. In fact, Yelp reports that consumers are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if a business responds with a personalized message within a day. All the more reason to regularly maintain your review platforms and respond quickly!
In addition to reading customer reviews and business responses, users may be quick to decide on how to interact with your business based on its overall rating. For example, a reader may be drawn to a business listing with 4-5 stars vs. one with 1-2 stars. This all goes back to making a good first impression online.
- Improve Customer Service
The more you’re seen replying to online reviews and interacting with customers, readers are assured that customer service is a top priority to your business. Taking the time to formulate an online reputation management strategy and regularly monitor review platforms is a green flag. This also signals that your business is open to feedback and seeks opportunities to improve customer experience, product and service offerings, and so on.
Of course, sometimes an unhappy customer will share their thoughts and feelings online. While this is inevitable at times, the way your business responds is most telling. It’s best to craft a compassionate, neutral response and offer to take the conversation offline to resolve whatever issue may be at hand. It’s best to keep unhappy conversations private until a resolution is reached.
- Promote Products and Services
96% of shoppers read reviews when they’re making a purchase, so why not mention your services when responding to reviews? If a reviewer highlights a specific product or service in theri review, reiterate its features, benefits, and why you love that specific offering. This is also a great opportunity to briefly promote upcoming promotions, sales, or offerings to encourage returning business and gain attention of prospective customers.
How to Respond to Reviews
Knowing how to kick off a conversation – especially one that doesn’t seem too happy – can feel a little overwhelming. However, when it comes to responding to online reviews, there’s a standard process to follow when crafting a response:
- Thank the reviewer for taking the time to provide feedback about their experience.
- If possible, acknowledge the customer’s name to show your attention and empathy.
- Highlight a specific detail from their review, such as something they are excited about, recently purchased, or an issue you’re working to fix.
- Address the reviewer’s concerns, take responsibility if needed, and share your business philosophy.
- If the review is on a negative note, offer a way to continue the conversation offline, like a direct message, your email, or phone number.
It’s good to know that these steps are general practices that work across many industries. However, there are some professional industries, such as healthcare, where there are different rules regarding what information you can put in a response to a review.
Just one bad review could cost your business as much as 22% of your prospective customers, according to Moz, if left unresolved. Part of being a successful business owner is keeping the “What can we do to make this right?” mentality. The way you choose to manage business online reputation will show exactly this. Ultimately, a thoughtful and strategic approach to review responses can contribute positively to your reputation and customer.
If your business received a harmful review that negatively impacts reputation, you may have a defamation case at hand. Read Buckingham’s “How to File a John Doe Lawsuit Over an Anonymous Review” article.