Why is it so important to respond to reviews?
In today’s digital age, online reviews are an increasingly important part of a brand’s reputation. Consumers rely on reviews from other customers to make informed decisions about products and services they purchase, and which brands they purchase from.
A brand’s overall rating on review websites, like Google Maps, can significantly impact its success. That is why it is so important for agencies to integrate a reputation management program into their different SEO efforts. Both monitoring and responding to reviews can be a great way to improve your own and your clients’ success in the local search space.
Responding to reviews
This can be a very steep ask for large brands as the volume of reviews can present scalability issues, especially within certain verticals (for example, QSRs can receive hundreds of reviews a day across their location footprint). A recent study that looked at 4.9 million reviews left between January 2015 and July 2022 found that if a brand can respond to 100% of their reviews, they can increase their conversion rate by 16.4%. This is a substantial jump and can be a huge advantage. With the right software, it is possible to respond to all reviews in a timely manner.
1. It shows customers that they are valued
By responding to customer reviews, brands are demonstrating to potential and current customers that they value their feedback and are committed to providing a positive experience. Review Trackers has stated that 53% of customers expect companies to respond to feedback within one week. This can go a long way in building trust and loyalty among your clients’ customer bases.
2. It can improve reputation
Negative reviews can be damaging to a brand’s reputation, but by responding to them and addressing any issues or concerns raised, you can turn a potentially negative situation for your clients into a positive one. The response benefits you two-fold. First, it will show to potential customers of your clients that “this brand cares” and that if something happens your client will be there to make things right. Second, responding to reviews over time will aid in increasing your overall star rating. Disgruntled customers often leave negative reviews but go back and change them once the brand responds and resolves the issue. If you never respond, this won’t happen.
3. It helps you identify and solve problems
Customer reviews can be a valuable source of information for brands, as they provide insight into areas where the customer experience can be improved. By actively monitoring and responding to reviews, you can help your clients identify patterns in customer feedback and take steps towards improving the customer experience at their locations. Beyond just responding, it is important to use other tools to monitor the content in reviews to help identify these trends. When a brand is choosing software to assist in responding to reviews, additional analytical features and reports should also be considered as these reports can really give a brand a leg up on the competition.
4. It will boost your local search ranking
Responding to reviews can also have a positive impact on your ranking within Google Maps. Google ranks sites based on numerous factors, one of which is the number of interactions a listing has—and the number of reviews a listing receives is considered a “interaction”. While as a brand you cannot leave yourself reviews, we do know that responding to all reviews within 48 hours can increase the number of reviews a location receives. Customers of feel like they are being heard are more willing to provide feedback. While there are many ways that you can make your customers feel heard, responding to their reviews is an easy one.
With the increase volume you receive from responding, the majority of brands also see their star ratings improve as most people do leave positive reviews. We have seen that when people conduct searches 7 of 10 people will us a review filter and that 3.3-stars is the minimum rating people accept when deciding which brands they purchase from.
Review response best practices
Of course, responding to reviews is not always easy. It is important to strike a balance between acknowledging customer concerns, defending your brand, and providing an avenue to resolution. It can be challenging to do so in a way that is both professional and authentic. As you start planning the responses, it is best to go in with a plan and to utilize software that can be customized to match the tone of your client’s message. Here are some tips to guide you through this process.
1. Respond promptly
It is important to respond to reviews in a timely manner, as this shows customers that your client is attentive and cares. Aim to respond to all reviews (positive ones as well) within 24-48 hours, whenever possible. Some reviews that come in are long and/or present an issue that requires a carefully written response, it is okay if these responses take longer than the recommendation as they don’t come through often, 99% of reviews should be responded to within the first 48 hours. By choosing software that allows for automation within the response process will make your life easier, the vast majority of reviews that come through will be positive and won’t need much attention. Choosing software that allows you and your clients to focus on the negative reviews that really need attention will simplify this process.
2. Be professional and courteous
Even if a customer has left a negative review, it is important to remain professional and courteous in the response. Avoid getting defensive or engaging in a back-and-forth argument with the customer. Although this interaction can be very dehumanized in the digital space, you should treat it as if you are talking to someone face-to-face. Focus on finding a resolution to the issue and apologizing if appropriate.
3. Thank customers for their feedback
Whether a review is positive or negative, be sure to thank the customer for taking the time to leave feedback. This shows that you value their input and appreciate their business. Knowing that 93% of people have been influenced to purchase because of an online review, displaying from the onset that your clients care about what their customers think can go a long way.
4. Address specific concerns
If a customer has raised specific concerns in their review, be sure to address those concerns directly. This shows that you’re paying attention and are committed to finding a resolution. It can be as simple as “I am sorry you had this experience at our Buffalo, NY location…”. But if you leave a cookie-cutter response to a review that has real concerns within, the potential customers as well as the one that left the review will see through this and most likely take their business elsewhere. Remember that these are not personal attacks; they are opportunities to engage with customers.
5. Provide a path to resolution
If a customer has had a negative experience, be sure to offer a real path for them to get a resolution. When interacting with a customer that had a problem with one of your clients’ locations, don’t get “into the weeds” in your response but do provide them with the customer service line and/or email address that will allow them to take their concerns to a channel that can get the issue resolved.
6. Respond to positive reviews too
It is also very important to respond to the positive reviews that people leave for you as well. These are customers of your clients that have taken the time to tell the brand what a great job they have done. Just like in person when someone gives you a compliment, it is polite to say thank you online as well. You can also take this opportunity to promote a future sale or event that is happening at your client’s location. After all, these are people that like your client’s brand, so encouraging them to come back is a good thing.
In conclusion, responding to reviews is an important part of reputation management for any brand. It shows customers that you value their feedback and are committed to providing a positive experience. It can also improve your reputation, help you identify and fix problems, and boost your search engine ranking.