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Responding to online reviews is one of the most effective ways to learn from – and build goodwill with – your customers.

Keep in mind that responding to reviews is a task that should be approached with utmost care. Sometimes your best intentions can come across in a not-so-good way, and your innocent attempts to resolve a situation only leads to the situation getting much worse. You may have the best intentions in mind, but without understanding the best practices of responding to online reviews, you could be setting yourself up for feedback failure.

Supercharge your reviews by downloading these free review response templates (in Excel format) so you can get back to your customers ASAP.

Whatever your customers may have said, written, blogged, or tweeted about your business or your brand, it’s important to remember that the Internet is written in stone, not in pencil. It is best practices not to react disproportionately to seemingly hateful comments, or respond with your temper in sizzling temperatures. When you’re managing your reviews and creating a response to your customers, always keep in mind that:

  • The people who write reviews (good or bad) of your business were paying customers – and thus potentially your most effective word-of-mouth advocates.
  • Those that write reviews based on the individual experience they had with your brand or business. They all have different feelings, expectations, and sensitivities.
  • Some people don’t believe in giving perfect scores.

Don’t ignore potentially damaging reviews

Fair or not, a bad review can significantly impact your business. It can damage your online reputation and prevent future customers from walking through your door. So whenever you come across one, make sure you respond promptly and politely – and figure out what you can do to change the reviewer’s mind for the better.

Some problems are too big to handle

Sometimes the problem is simply not for you to solve. Hostile, defamatory comments may sometimes need a different level of manager, so don’t hesitate to escalate to the person who has the ability and authority to respond. If, say, you can’t respond in your position as a customer service officer or social media manager, check out if an executive officer or the actual business owner can help.

Create a system

If your business has multiple locations, you’ll probably need to assign more than one person to the task of responding to customer reviews. In which case, you’ll have to implement some sort of system or customer service desk software that’ll allow you to enhance the efficiency of these responses. We recommend Zendesk, Desk.com and UserVoice.

Respond quickly, but don’t rush

Your decision to respond to a comment or customer review obliges you to invest time and effort in articulating a well-worded response. So free up an hour or two and dedicate it exclusively to review tracking and management. Your customers will appreciate knowing you have a brand or business that truly cares about them and listens to what they have to say. Making the response a top priority lets them know this.

Your response matters

Knowing you’ve been heard really matters, and not only if you are a marketing consultant or social media professional. It also doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, either. Letting people know that you’ve taken a moment out of your day to acknowledge their existence really makes a difference.

For example, hotels that respond to what customers are saying online could fill more rooms. Hospital Networks that engage with patients could generate more appointments and inquiries. Attentive car dealerships could drive more sales and sell more cars. Showing you care is a human quality, not just a business strategy.

Take a look at some of these statistics from a recent Medallia study about online reviews:

  • Businesses that responded to over 50 percent of their reviews grew occupancy rates by 6.4 percentage points on average (more than twice the rates of those who ignored reviews).
  • Businesses that responded to 1 to 10 percent of their reviews enjoyed a growth of 3.2 percentage points.
  • Hotels that responded within 2 days or more recorded an average of 39.5 percent increase in occupancy rates
  • Hotels who responded within 1 day recorded a 52.3 percent rise.

Improve your Net Promoter Score

A great way to benchmark the measurement of online review success is to utilize the Net Promoter Scores (NPS). The NPS is one of the most popular ways to measure the loyalty of a company’s customer relationships.

It’s based on a very simple question: On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? 

Responding to reviews doesn’t just affect your companies bottom line, or churn rates. It also happens to have a big impact on your NPS, online reputation, and overall customer satisfaction levels. If you don’t know how to calculate your NPS, just read this guide. According to Medallia, responding to reviews can also boost your NPS and, subsequently, your ability to foster loyalty. The study shows that the hotels that responded to more than half of their reviews saw their NPS increase by an average of 1.4 points.

What are you doing to manage and measure the voice of the customer? Let us know in the comments below.

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.

Discussion

  1. Rylan Howie

    When you respond to customer reviews (good or bad) you are giving them a sign that they are noticed. You treat your customers like people. It’s called good manners. If you respond accordingly it can help a great deal. After that, even an angry customer would respect you.

    Reply
  2. Rod S. Lee

    @Rylan Howie – I couldn’t agree more with you. I honestly believe that people want to be HEARD , and if you manage to hit the appropriate tone as well – you’ve done a great job.

    Reply
  3. Heinrich Sture

    This statistic is very interesting. I haven’t had an idea that this affects business so much. Is it really possible that the speed with which you answer to a review can help your business receive 52% rise?! Wow!

    Reply
  4. Melanie Johnson

    I really used to have a bad temper when responding to negative reviews. But now, I realize that you can make things straight just by being polite. Responding negatively or sarcastically on a bad reviews can make things much worse. On the other hand, if you excuse or explain your self in a polite way you can regain trust from the review readers.

    Reply
    • New Bee

      I totally agree with you. Once, I used to insult a customer who gave me a bad review and he sued me, an naturally won. I even had to close my restaurant and start a new with with a different name and trends. Now, I treat my customers as VIPs, each and every.

      Reply
      • Norman Nevelle

        This is really sad. You are telling us that you are acting politely because of the law..

        Reply
  5. Rod S. Lee

    But what if a bad review is a fake one? How recognizable that really is? Is there a way to report them or flag them as inappropriate?

    Reply
    • Jim Petersen

      Almost every review site has an option to report a fake comment.

      Reply
  6. KrisM77

    Thanks for the NPS guide. It’s really helpful.

    Reply
  7. Fiona Wong

    Responding to online reviews became one of the most important things in managing any customer relied business. If you keep your customers satisfied, they will give you good reviews, but if you make the slightest mistake, this could get you into lot of trouble. Important thing is to be polite in any given circumstances, and not to lose temper.

    Reply
  8. Fields of Clover

    I completely agree that by responding to reviews you are actually showing that you care and that’s what every customer needs. You need to show your human side not just business.

    Reply
    • Patrick R

      What about rude people who don’t care about you and your business, people who write superbad reviews using filthy language? Are we suppose to be kind to them?

      Reply
  9. Brandon M.

    Many business owners don’t give significant attention to reviews. They just simply ignore them, and they don’t know what opportunity for free marketing they are missing.

    Reply

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