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.
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.