The Customer Is Always Right: Responding to Online Reviews

Whether or not your brand sells products or services, chances are that clients and potential customers can find out about your company with a quick Google search. In fact, 90% consumers read online reviews.

From social media posts and Google My Business local listings to service review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor and product review sites such as Amazon and Consumer Reviews, customers have plenty of mediums to spread the word – good, bad or ugly – about the products and services they buy.

How do you manage your brand’s reputation? By responding to reviews – all of them, especially the inevitable negative ones. As is always the case, it’s in your company’s best interest to control the conversation as much as possible. This is called “reputation management.”

Why Respond to Online Reviews?

Because, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer tells 9-15 people about their negative experience. But wait, it gets worse. About 13% of those dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people. And because 80 percent of consumers are swayed by a negative online review, it’s critical to take the time to explain the situation from the brand’s perspective by wading into the comments/reviews section with apologies, promises and explanations.

In order to keep a heightened sense of customer awareness, we recommend responding to as many online reviews as humanly possible, including positive ones.  26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews. Putting your brand’s voice at the forefront of the conversation is hugely beneficial to giving your customers the best possible experience and your prospective customers the best possible impression.

That’s important when 30% of U.S. consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon for product information and reviews.

When you show up, it’s more apparent that you – or the brand – care about what its customers are saying.

How Should I Respond to Reviews or Comments?

In this day and age, we spend so much time online that it’s easy to forget that every brand, account or avatar we’re communicating with is actually a human being.

When it comes to customers who have poor experiences with products or services, they’re willing to rant to anyone who will listen – especially on their personal social media profiles. In order to remind your customers and potential customers that you relate to them on a human level, it’s important to respond personally and directly. Personalized and direct responses are a welcome change from the approved brand voice.

Another imperative component of review responses is brevity. No use beating around the bush, overextending the conversation or otherwise sounding long-winded. Instead, we highly recommend getting to the point and sticking to it. Whether you’re trying to talk a customer down off of a ledge or want to show your pride, writing a short and sweet response goes much further.

Of course, keeping in mind the public nature of review responses, keeping your commentary appropriate is of utmost importance. Nothing will turn that 80 percent away more than a brand response that cuts a complaining customers down instead of lifting them up. Remember – the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. No use arguing in an online forum.

What If I Can’t Keep Up with All These Comments?

There are so many different places for leaving reviews and comments – keeping up with them can become a full-time job. While we recommend responding to as many comments as possible as quickly as possible, we also understand the reality of the situation.

Set up Google Alerts for your brand to receive notifications of any time the brand is mentioned in the media. For comments and review on social media and other review sites, we recommend a tool called Yext to keep everything in one place.

When brands are dedicated to creating a good customer experience after the purchase and before the visit then the brand benefits.

Of course, negative reviews can sometimes be daunting or unpleasant to respond to, but this doesn’t make doing so any less important – in fact, responding to negative reviews is much more likely to bolster brand awareness and intrigue.