When a consumer is considering becoming a patron of a business, they don’t look for advertisements or even social media updates to determine whether or not to give them their money. Instead, they look to customer reviews to decide where to shop, eat, stay, be entertained, and purchase products and services. In fact, before making a purchase, “approximately 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses,” according to Business News Daily.
Consumers want to see not just what other people have said about a company, but also how the business responds to those comments - both good and bad. Negative customer reviews can’t be ignored, but the positive ones need to be addressed as well.
Responding to the consumers who have taken the time to review your business is just one more critical element in brand reputation management. Get it right, and you can enjoy a steady growth in customers, and potentially build a loyal fanbase. Get it wrong, and it could lead to the end of your business.
If you really think about it, digital customer reviews are worth their weight in gold. While it may not feel like it when you get negative reviews, both positive and negative reviews can give you important information that can ultimately help you improve your business.
Let’s say a good review comes in. This lets a business know where they are doing well. Imagine the positive feedback is about a specific employee and the way they went above and beyond helping a customer, for example. Now your company knows who is best suited for customer service.
On the other hand, if you get a bad review, you’ll have a clue as to where your business can improve. Suppose there is a complaint about stains on carpeting or cracks in the walls. This tells you it might be time to bring a maintenance crew in to give your place a facelift.
In other words, these online reviews give you knowledge you wouldn’t have otherwise had if your patrons hadn’t spoken up.
The question is though, why is it so important to reply to these customer reviews?
Regardless of whether they’re good or bad, replying to your customer reviews lets your patrons know you genuinely want to read about their feelings towards your business.
People want to be heard, and they want to know someone is paying attention to their opinion. Perhaps the worst thing you could do is to ignore a review altogether. By allowing others to talk about you negatively or even positively without a response from you, is like telling the world you couldn’t care less about what people think of your brand.
Why would anyone buy from you if you don’t care?
While it’s tempting to only respond to positive reviews, it’s just as important, if not more, to address negative reviews as well. The truth is, responding to both can change the sentiment and boost business.
Perhaps HubSpot said it best when they said, “Bad reviews should not cause anxiety, but should be a moment of opportunity to improve your brand and customer service.”
Taking the time to appropriately respond to a negative review, gives you the opportunity to rectify situations that otherwise could spiral out of control. Doing so publicly shows your community that you care about your brand and its patrons, and that you want to serve your customers in the best way possible. This can help you diminish and perhaps even reverse damage to your reputation.
The best way to reply is to first read the comment and assess whether it’s a genuine complaint or a person that simply has an axe to grind. For the former, you’ll want to address it with a thoughtful response and an offer to make it right. For the latter, it may be a bully (also called a ‘troll’ online) that needs to be addressed differently. In this case, we’ll focus on the legitimate negative reviews and how to manage those, and save addressing ‘trolls’ for another day.
Marketing guru Neil Patel says, “customers expect businesses to respond to their reviews quickly, [and] 51.7% of consumers expect businesses to respond to their negative review within seven days.” As Score.org explains, this is why reputation marketing software is so crucial. It will help you manage your online reviews more efficiently.
When you respond, do so with a strategy in mind. Remember, if the review is negative, the goal is to attempt to make it right. Acknowledge what the customer review has said, apologise, and then offer what you think is best to appease the situation. What you offer will ultimately be up to you, but the key is to try and show the customer you care.
Neil Patel also said that replying to your negative reviews can give you a boost in conversions for future customers. He said, “If your business gets only positive reviews, consumers might question whether those reviews are legitimate or not. Not everyone will, but those who are a little bit more cautious might… On the other hand, having a healthy mix of both positive and negative reviews will help build trust in your business more quickly.”
The kicker is that you have to respond to all of your reviews in order to show that there are real, genuine people behind the business. This is, after all, your opportunity to shine. Don’t let it slip away.
As Forbes reported, “Reputation has always been a form of currency. In today’s digital world, however, our reputations are more important -- and more permanent -- than ever before.” As a business owner, it’s your job to protect your reputation, and repair it whenever necessary.
Hellopeter can help you make this job easier. With Hellopeter in your corner, your business can attract new customers by growing a trusted online presence and community, on an easy to use, independent review platform. Learn the true value of online reviews with our free guide.