Why You Should Reply to Your Reviews—Especially The Negative Ones

August 27th, 2019 by Teri Murphy

Whether we’re using social media to keep up with friends, watching videos on YouTube, or even searching the Web to find a doctor, most of our daily activities involve our phones and other devices with access to the internet. Many of us will turn to reviews, along with recommendations from our friends, to find restaurants to eat dinner at or even when choosing an apartment community to live in. Having positive reviews on your online listings as a business owner is important, but responding to them is even more important. Especially when it comes to negative reviews.

Why Are Customer Reviews Important?

Your reviews are a representation of your business. They usually say a lot about the company long before you’re able to speak for it yourself and tell your brand’s story. Potential customers or clients will use reviews to gauge if your products or services are worth the money. According to Vendasta:

  • 92% of consumers will read reviews to determine the quality of a local business
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust local businesses more
  • 80% of customers say they trust an online review or recommendation just as much as a personal recommendation from a friend

Having enough positive reviews to prove your value is important for garnering new customers. Negative reviews are also important and have an impact on your brand perception. About 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative reviews. 

The good news is, outside of providing exemplary products and services to your customers, there are ways to reach out before a customer leaves a negative review and thereby get more positive reviews over time. For our client, K. Mathew Warnock, we were able to get him 100 positive reviews in about five months. 

Why Is Responding to Reviews Important?

You should absolutely be responding to every review you receive. Not only is there the benefit of building relationships with your customer base and having social proof for future customers, but there is also an SEO benefit as well. Responding to reviews shows prospective clients, as well as search engines, that you are committed to satisfying customers and maintaining an active presence on your listings. Google has confirmed via one of the Google My Business Help pages that responding to reviews shows them you value your customers and that high-quality, positive results can improve your business’s visibility in the Search Engine Results page.

Experts in our field have long believed that in terms of local SEO, review signals were an important factor in Google’s ranking factors. In fact, in 2018 as a part of Moz’s yearly Local Search Ranking Factors, they listed Review Signals as 15.44% of the algorithm when your business is shown in the Maps pack, following closely behind having a well-optimized Google My Business profile with accurate categories, keywords, and being in proximity to your potential customers.

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Google isn’t the only place your customers should be leaving reviews. Depending on your industry, you’ll also want them to leave reviews on other local directories like Yelp, social sites like Facebook, and niche sites like HealthGrades or Home Advisor. 

How Do I Respond to My Reviews?

There are some general rules of thumb for responding to reviews that should be followed, regardless of whether they’re good or bad:

  • Respond On Time
    • Some things, like negative reviews, may require you talk offline with your team to craft a response, and that’s okay. But you don’t want to leave reviews sitting for weeks without some sort of response.
  • Customize Your Response
    • Having templates or drafts of responses you use to respond to customers can save administrative time, but you don’t want your customers to feel like you’re giving them a cookie-cutter response.
  • Always Thank Your Customer
    • Good or bad, the reviewer did business with your company and took time out of their day to leave you a review. Reassure them that you are dedicated to providing the best customer service experience possible.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Bad reviews happen. Don’t fret and don’t overreact. There are some simple ways to make responding to negative reviews as breezy as possible. 

  • Apologize
    • This can be a hard one, but do it and keep it professional and not defensive. Apologize if the reviewer has expressed dissatisfaction with your product or service. Sympathize with them and show them that you can understand their frustration or disappointment. Don’t blame the customer or shift blame on to your staff. Accusing the customer of lying or exaggerating can be offensive as well. 
  • Connect
    • Offer the negative reviewer contact information, either yours as the business owner or a manager’s, so that you can ask more questions about their dissatisfaction. Keep it short and sweet. 
  • Offer Reassurance
    • If you know the customer and what their issue was with your product or service, offer a resolution like a refund or free products. If bad service was the issue, let the customer know that you are taking the necessary steps to ensure if they’d like to visit or purchase from you again, their experience will have improved.

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How to Respond to Positive Reviews

Responding to positive reviews is a bit easier, right? You’ve gotten a glowing review from a recent customer. They can’t help but gush about your service and the attention they received. They love your staff. They love your business. How do you respond to that?

  • Show Acknowledgement & Gratitude
    • Don’t forget to be polite and acknowledge the reviewer by their first name; this adds a bit of personalization over generic greetings. Thank them for patronizing your business. In the case of both positive and negative reviews, gratitude goes a long way.
  • Use Keywords 
    • Using keywords, your business name, and location specific information in your response can help improve the visibility of the positive review.
  • Market 
    • Invite the customer back to your business. A simple “we can’t wait to see you again” can work. You can also let them know about other products and services you offer. If a customer came to your restaurant and enjoyed your espresso, for example, maybe entice them to try it next time with your favorite pastry offering. 

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Do You Need Help Managing Your Online Reputation?

Search Influence can help your local SEO efforts. We’re a digital marketing agency in the Gulf South dedicated to helping our clients optimize their potential through dynamic marketing strategies. Request your free marketing analysis to learn about how we can help drive qualified leads to your business.

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