Responding to online reviews is more important than ever. With a one-star improvement on Yelp alone translating to a 5-9% revenue increase, all reviews have an impact on your business, even the moderate and positive ones! 79% of people trust online ratings and reviews as much as personal recommendations. Half of local searches occur on directory and mobile apps, where reviews play center stage on whether your business shows up on searches and what consumers think of your business – all before they walk in your door.

Responding to reviews shouldn’t be a band-aid approach to online customer service but a way for you to have a thoughtful conversation with those who took the time to tell you how their visit was! Use these three best practices to engage with your customer’s even more through their reviews:

Respond to Every Review – Not Just the Negative Ones

And do so in a timely manner. Your customer’s are willingly sharing their experience with you and you should acknowledge the time they took to do so. Could you imagine if a customer came in and gave you positive feedback and you just turned around and walked in the other direction without acknowledging them? Of course, you wouldn’t do that, but you are doing that right now if you aren’t responding to positive reviews. Interestingly, Yelp recently changed its guidelines and now recommends you respond to positive reviews, too. So this is now a more acknowledged best practice. Just say thank you in a human way and if you can do so naturally, encourage them to come back.

Most local businesses prioritize responding to negative reviews, because those are the “black eyes” and 33% of negative reviews turn positive when you respond to them. Our tips for responding to negative online reviews are:

1) Acknowledge Their Pain

2) Take the Conversation Offline

3) Resolve the Issue

Whether the review is positive, moderate or negative, your comments can affect your customers’ future actions. It’s in your sphere of influence whether they return to your business to give you a second chance or tell all their friends about how not only do they love your store, but you thanked them following their review, too.

By reaching out to each customer review you are showing your customers are a priority to your business and you appreciate them.

Be Genuine and Empathize with the Reviewer

It’s not just about writing back, it’s about how you do it. You don’t need to be defensive to negative reviews, they already have the upper hand in the argument so just admit a fault and apologize for their less than satisfactory visit.

For the moderate reviews, respond to what they thought could be improved and if they didn’t give a reason you’re left with a great opportunity to ask what they would like improved (and get some free business ideas!).

It’s in this area that you would think to move past the positive reviews because you might be thinking, “Empathize with them? They loved us!” but this is exactly why you should respond! They love your business and so do you, so thank them for leaving such a kind and thoughtful review and ask them to say ‘Hi’ next time they are in your location.

It’s just as important to be genuine. If your business is a bubbly, talkative salon then responding in a terse, business tone is not what your customers know or expect. Respond as if you are talking to them in person and helping them get the best customer experience you can.

Conclusion

79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, so take the time to reach out to every customer review because each one will have an impact. LocalVox makes it easy to track and respond to reviews on every social review site your businesses is listed on so no customer goes unheard. We provide a simple social inbox so you get notified of any new review and can track your ratings and reviews on almost 50 different sites with SearchCast.

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