Think about the last time you purchased an item, went to a restaurant or tried a new service. Did you ask a friend for advice, or did you head straight to Yelp, Google or Facebook to check out an online review?
According to Trustpilot, if you chose the latter, you’re not alone; 89 percent of customers check reviews before purchasing a product or service.
The good news? Negative or positive, all reviews can positively affect your business — the trick is all in your response. So why does responding to reviews matter, and how can you turn a bad review into a learning experience? Great questions! We’ll answer them both and share our best strategies for responding to reviews.
Why Responding to Reviews Matters
Encouraging positive reviews and testimonials is crucial. Reviews help build valuable user-generated content for your business and can drive new customers, clients or sales. However, a page of reviews isn’t enough. You need to actually engage via meaningful dialogue, and here’s why:
Responding to reviews builds brand trust.
According to research from Five9’s Customer Service Index Report, 72 percent of customers consider trust in the seller to be of utmost importance, beating out price AND customer experience. Responding to your audience’s reviews (both positive and negative) shows there’s a caring, real customer service rep behind each sale. This type of authentic interaction shows your potential customers/clients that you’re listening, willing to take feedback and improve.
Responding to reviews bolsters SEO.
Review responses aren’t just good for your prospects; they can also improve your search engine ranking and overall SEO value. Google and other search engines recently completed algorithm updates that prioritize user experience (more on that here). In other words, Google wants to give its customers the best experience. They feel interactive businesses with genuine feedback and responses are likely to provide that. As such, they rank those sites higher on the SERPs. Accordingly, this increases your organic traffic and other SEO factors.
Responding to reviews helps improve your offering.
Customers/clients are the ones using your products and services every single day. Their feedback is invaluable when it comes to making your business better. Don’t you want to know about a product defect or a website glitch? What if your team missed the mark and provided a lackluster experience when interacting with a prospect?
Feedback offers a myriad of information to improve and evolve your overall business approach. Your responses give you even more intel and the opportunity to right a wrong, which brings us to our next section.
How to Handle Negative Reviews
Responding to negative reviews is essential. A recent report found that 53 percent of customers expect you to respond to a negative review within a week and 45 percent are more likely to interact with a business that has responded to a negative review.
But taking criticism ain’t easy! We get it. You pour your heart and soul into your business, humbly responding to complaints means swallowing your pride.
HubSpot outlined tips to making this challenging process a little easier:
- Take a minute: if you’re frustrated after a bad review, you’re more likely to respond in anger, meaning a minor complaint could turn into a big issue. So, take a moment to breathe or consult a colleague before responding to any negative reviews;
- Respond publicly: it’s tempting to make your response to the reviewer private, but keeping it public is essential;
- Admit mistakes: 85 percent of Americans are willing to stick with a company that admits its mistakes. Be transparent and apologize. Show your customers that you heard their complaints and took action to improve your service in response to their experience;
- Move the conversation 1:1: while your initial response should be public, do your best to move the conversation to a private platform as soon as possible. For example, respond then conclude with “Please email us at ____ to speak directly to one of our team members, so we can ensure to fully resolve this issue.”
Finally, once you respond to those negative reviews, don’t beat yourself up! Mistakes happen. You handled it with grace and in a way that will help your overall digital presence. Take that feedback, improve your process or product and move on!
Review Response Strategy: Best Practices
Now that we’ve established that responding to reviews is essential, it’s time to implement this practice into your marketing strategy.
- ✔️ Respond to reviews regularly: responding to reviews thoughtfully and honestly can be arduous and time-consuming. We recommend reviewing all platforms (Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angi, and any other industry-specific sites) and responding at least twice per month. Schedule this task on your calendar like you would a meeting. But if you note a new review outside your regular session, always feel free to respond ASAP;
- ✔️ Respond quickly and intentionally: according to HubSpot, responding promptly to reviews shows that you’re engaged – improving customer/client relations and reinforcing brand trust. Don’t just copy and paste your responses. Make them unique and personal;
- ✔️ Record feedback: your business should record feedback from all the reviews you receive, both positive and the negative. Negative reviews help you see where you need to improve, and the positive ones show you what you’re doing well.
The most important part of this whole process? Don’t dread your bi-monthly review check, but see those reviews for what they are — an opportunity to improve your business.