In a working paper published by Harvard Business School, Michael Luca brought to light that, on the whole, a one-star rating variation on Yelp impacts an independent restaurant’s revenue by 5 to 9 percent.
In the same paper, Luca discloses two additional findings: one is that consumers do not use all the information available, and secondly, consumers respond more strongly when ratings contain more information.
Business owners have no control of how and by whom they are reviewed – as well as of the size and informational value of these reviews. How then can they increase the amount of relevant information present in online review sites in an effort to increase responsiveness and engagement?
Well, we suggest basic means of engagement. The first is by providing enhanced and accurate profile information that includes highly descriptive content and images. The second, and more relevant, means of engagement consists of providing timely, relevant and informative text-rich responses to your online reviews.
When a business responds to a reviewer, consumers are guided to information with the potential of generating increased engagement and/or conversion. The information disclosed in review response format should reassure potential customers as they make their decision to patronize a venue.
Review responses reassure by showing commitment to customers
When a business makes the decision to respond to customer reviews, the very act of engaging with the customer, instead of ignoring them, reveals a level of commitment. To further this perception, it is smart for you to draft both your response and your plan of action (associated with a less-than-perfect response) in a remedy-oriented format.
A remedy-oriented format has the potential to salvage a customer and reinforce their loyalty, while demonstrating to future customers a heightened sense of duty when it comes to making a wrong a right. There is no need to be shy when it comes to disclosing the steps taken to fix a problem and directly addressing the consumer concern.
One important element of dealing with this type of review is to actually follow through with organizational changes aimed at making your products and services better. By taking care of business proactively and improving based on feedback, businesses can break cycles of receiving negative reviews and begin recovering as they improve their online reputation.
Review responses reassure by providing dimension
A well-crafted response not only addresses the problem at hand or acknowledges a compliment from a customer. A well-crafted response will naturally segue into highlighting features and services that would have made the customer experience better.
A great example would be a restaurateur responding to a reviewer with a concern regarding pricing during a dinner experience enjoyed with a large family. A smart restaurant owner could respond to the review by highlighting the availability of a lunch menu featuring smaller portions of the same quality food at a price that may be better aligned with the needs of the customer reviewing the venue.
By descriptively disclosing his offering, the restaurant owner not only addresses the concern of the customer but also reassures future customers of a variety of dining options that provide additional flexibility as far as budgeting for large parties. As an added value, the restaurant response serves to support a keyword-based SEO strategy by allowing searchers looking for lunch values to easily find online. (Be sure to check out: “Writing SEO-Friendly Review Responses: 4 Smart Tips”)
Review responses reassure by conveying actuality
A business’ goods, services volume, and features are constantly changing. Some of these changes are triggered by natural business cycles, and others come as a result of customer-provided feedback.
An online review may contain negative information regarding a feature or service that is no longer applicable. For example, a customer might convey concerns associated with parking due to construction in close proximity to the venue.
By addressing the issue via a response that provides the customer with an update regarding the construction project, the restaurant management not only informs and engages the reviewer, he also sets the stage for accurate and up-to-date information for new potential customers. By conveying actuality, customers in the process of selection might be swayed to select your venue over the competition.
Comprehensive review management should seek to address the highest number of reviews in the most important and traffic-generating review websites. By tracking online reviews as they come, and responding to most reviews, businesses set the stage for an ever-improving cycle of lead generation.