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Responding to every review can be tough. It takes a lot of work, patience and creativity to do it consistently. There are companies who handle this kind of work, so we’ve put together a list of the companies we’ve found best suited for the job.

Businesses that are eager to embrace all areas of online reputation management and willing to do whatever is needed to improve the customer experience want to know and understand the ins and outs of responding to reviews.

Over-performers, in particular, are curious as to how to engage with customers who have left a highly enthusiastic, positive review, and wonder what the best way is for effectively dealing with short, negative reviews that don’t give much space for an informational or remedial response.

The question of whether a business should respond to every single online review deserves further exploration to better understand when and how businesses should engage with reviewers.

Take Potential Visibility into Account

Depending on your industry or field of specialization, a review site may or may not be highly relevant for your industry. Understanding which websites are the best lead generators for each type of business or profession will help you best determine the value of each review, and thus equip you to decide whether to reply to the reviewer.

Hoteliers, for example, are likely to benefit significantly from responding to the majority of their reviews on TripAdvisor, but may not get equal bang for their buck if they decide to engage in responding to a customer review left on a Google listing.

Do your homework, and become familiar with the best and most popular reviews for your type of business. Make it a priority to respond to reviews posted on the top review websites for your industry.

Understand the Social Dynamics and Policies

There is a tone to the overall conversation of each third-party review website. Understanding and following the rules is essential to the success of your review management strategy.

For example, if a customer leaves a review on Facebook, then there is an implied expectation for real-time engagement on the part of the business. A response is a must, regardless of the content, theme, or length of the review.

In the case of a positive review, a sincere thank you, along with additional information that may be of future value to the customer, will most likely suffice. In the case of a negative review, supply a short answer that focuses on providing immediate follow-up, and possibly take the issue to a private conversation, or even consider handling it through a phone call.

Regardless of the website where the review is hosted, always craft a response that not only takes into account the sincere and intentional engagement with your customer but also how other customers and potential customers will benefit from the content of your review response.

Additionally, as you probably know, your response lends itself to crafting SEO-friendly content that can help those searching for your business find you with ease when using Google or other popular search engines.

Decide if the Review Lends Itself to an Informative or Expanded Response

Regardless of the nature of an online review, smart reputation managers should be able to discern between a review with minimal opportunity for sincere and informative engagement, and one that is an open invitation to elaborate by providing a solution to a problem voiced on the review, or expanding on a service or product that the reviewer highlighted as good or excellent.

When a review has content that can be easily segued into a conversation that is conducive to brand development, those responding to online reviews should not miss out on the opportunity. Review sites, when managed well, can become the center stage of a marketing and customer experience strategy conducive to increased customer retention levels and incremental growth.

Responding to Reviews is All About Proper Timing

Timely responses to reviews are not as simple as it seems. Business owners and reputation managers need to have sufficient business acumen to decide if a review response requires additional research or verification at an operational level, to ensure the issues the customer has escalated are handled quickly, with consideration to issues such as legal liability and other complexities that may arise in association with a negative review.

In the case of positive reviews, businesses would do well to provide a response as quickly as possible. Having service-level agreements in association with online reputation management is a core element of a functional customer experience strategy.

At the other end of the spectrum, responding to a positive review via a public response when the review has been posted for more than a few days may appear sloppy, insincere, and mechanical. If you intend to respond to an old, positive review, then consider doing so in private, via email or private message. If you are privy to the customer’s contact information, then why not consider a personal touch, such as a handwritten thank-you note?

When it comes to deciding whether a business owner or reputation manager should respond to every single online review, there is not an answer written in stone. Each business is unique, and each review has distinct characteristics that demand discernment and a good business instinct.

Wrap Up

At the end of the day, you should seek to engage in a way that helps your business grow, by deciding to write responses only when you are certain that a review response will add value to the customer experience while supporting brand outreach.

The most successful reputation managers are those that are constantly fine-tuning their business sensibilities to best understand what it takes to deliver excellence. Their decisions as to how to engage are not made based on flowcharts. Their key objective is to give each customer the best possible experience at every stage of their engagement with the business.

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Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

Discussion

  1. Fields of Clover

    I believe people feel as VIPs when owner respond to their comment or review. Of course, you shouldn’t be responding to each comment, but if you could use this opportunity for further advertising, it’s fine, specially if people read much reviews and comments.

    Reply
  2. Sammy J

    It’s hard to track all the reviews if you are visible on a multiple platforms. So, I really think you should hire a professional to do this.

    Reply
  3. newmediaist12

    I think you shouldn’t be responding to every single review, it’s nonsense. There are really few of them that require responses but it’s important to deal with the negative ones.

    Reply
    • F2Xsites

      I don’t think you should be responding to reviews at all. They are your customers impressions and it’s true that you can learn a lot by reading them but why should you respond?

      Reply
      • floresparati

        You have to respond to them – that makes you and your business legit and it shows your care about the customers. And what customers want most of all? – To be noticed, respected, always right…

        And it’s not just a question of whether to respond or not; it’s more – how to respond, because if you make a mistake in the way you respond – it can greatly impact your business.

        Reply
        • Jason S.

          I agree, and if a business owner is unable to monitor reviews and respond to each one, then they should hire someone to manage this task for them. Acknowledging consumer reviews (both good and bad) communicates that you care about the customers you serve.

          Reply
  4. Bryan Jake T

    There are lot of available resources in reviews commenting. You can make a great SEO’s and marketing tricks and also get closer to customers. But naturally, you don’t have to reply to every comment.

    Reply
  5. Jacob B

    Auto replying is terrible for business and nobody has the needed spare time to reply to all comments. Actually, hiring someone to handle that part of the work can be a bad decision as well. Nobody can reply to a review without knowledge about the business. So, again, you need to hire and teach someone. Time wasting again. Instead of doing that, you pick some of the best and worst reviews every day and respond to them yourself.

    Reply
  6. PattyT12

    Reviews are overrated. We all know that only it doesn’t mean anything. Only small portion of people actually decides to write a review, especially positive one. You really have to stun them. Otherwise, they will just go home and spend they day as they usually do.

    Reply
    • Shaun Martin

      Reviews might be overrated, but they are here and a few bad reviews without a proper response can ruin a business. Again, if you are responding with an awful attitude can take you even to a worse position.

      Reply
  7. Justin Paw

    I wish to meet those people who are sitting there doing nothing and waiting for business owner to respond to their reviews. I mean, what if business has thousands of customers and many of them post reviews. Are you supposed to respond to each of it, even if you have stuff doing this?

    Reply
    • Kevin A

      I’m afraid your way of thinking is wrong on this one. It’s not that people are sitting and waiting for you to respond, but it usually catches them by a surprise and a pleasant one at that. That is the whole point of answering to a review to go beyond what is expected of you.

      Reply
  8. Get That Ball

    I hate that whole notion – you HAVE to respond the negative review and responding to positive ones are OPTIONAL. How come? So, you DON’T appreciate satisfied customers or what?

    Reply
  9. Jay Bird

    It’s a lot of work responding to every review and i think you should hire a person to do that for your business. Customers appreciate this, I know i do! Especially when it’s i regard of answering some questions. But I think that nobody is rally waiting for a respond,but the next customer who wants to review something or someone will see that his or her’s review is appreciated that your business is tacking every review seriously and that you review will be noted.

    Reply
  10. Almira Keefe

    Just another thing to add to the growing list of responsibilities for small business owners to stay afloat. When did it all become so complicated? I understand that marketing has always been a complex field, but the internet has just made it an impossible psychological game that humble businesses just can’t keep up with!

    Reply
  11. David R.

    Responding publicly to a review that is a few days old is considered sloppy or insincere? Seriously? I can understand if it were a few weeks old, but this seems a bit extreme to me.

    Reply
  12. Mark Mead

    Though it is time taking and tough, replying reviews always helps.

    Reply
  13. Vince

    You have no time to respond every review!!! Responding to one review per day is enough!

    Reply

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