How to Manage and Respond to Online Store Reviews

In The Download, our ultimate guide to retail marketing, we devote a section to discussing the importance of increasing the number of positive reviews left by customers on Google. We also emphasized in our last article on how customers find your store online the importance of asking your customers to leave reviews in getting your business discovered by more people.

And as you might have guessed, our work is not done.

Almost 95 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. An even more incredible stat is nearly 85 percent of the consumers that read online reviews trust the reviews as much or more than the personal suggestions made by close friends and family members. Because the average consumer reads seven reviews before making a purchasing decision, isn’t there something you should be doing as a business owner to bolster the power of online reviews?

The answer is a resounding yes. You should learn how to respond and manage online customer reviews.

The importance of responding to customer reviews

Example google business review
It’s essential to respond to online customer reviews — both positive and negative.

One of the most commonly asked questions we get at Bryan Caplan Marketing is about responding to customer reviews and its impact on local search engine optimization (SEO). When 97 percent of consumers say reviews posted online influences the buying decision process, the answer is simple: managing and responding to customer reviews should be an integral part of your online marketing program.

How google views customer reviews

If you want convincing evidence that responding to and managing customer reviews is important, then look no further than a Google My Business support page

According to the search engine giant, business owners and operators “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”

Building trust — one review at a time

Responding to online reviews, especially when the reviews appear on Google, helps you build trust with customers. It shows them that you care enough about how customers feel to take a little time out of your already busy day to address concerns and offer thanks for positive support. Regardless of whether a review is positive or negative, responding to it demonstrates a strong commitment to delivering superior customer service.

You spend considerable time and money attracting more customers. Why not close the deal by spending time responding to online reviews? 

Here’s why it’s worth your time — Statistics show that when customers receive a response from a business operator after posting a negative review, 33 percent of them posted a positive review and 34 percent of the negative reviewers deleted the original poor review.

How to respond to online customer reviews

A 2018 study conducted by TripAdvisor concluded that hotels responding to online reviews received 12 percent more customer reviews online. The Local Search Association presented data in 2018 that showed most consumers expect a company to follow up on a review within 24 hours of it appearing on an online customer review page.

That’s enough of the numbers. By now you understand the need for responding to customer reviews posted online. Now, let’s see how your business should reach out and respond to someone.

The 3 P’s of managing online customer reviews

How should you respond to online reviews? In our guide on customer reviews, we talk about three P’s: Prompt, professional, and positive.

  •  Prompt means responding within one to two business days
  • Professional means writing a well-thought-out response that uses correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Positive means remaining upbeat

If you think about it, the three P’s of responding to online customer reviews look a lot like the steps you implement for responding to face-to-face feedback. You make sure you promptly interact with the customer in a professional manner. Above all, you turn negative feedback into a positive customer experience by maintaining your composure and remaining upbeat in both your tone and message.

Example of a response to a positive review

Responding to positive reviews is easy. Who wouldn’t want to say thanks to the people that take the time to give glowing praise to your business? After you thank a customer for a review, you should then encourage him or her to revisit your store. Use specific language to keep your response short, yet highly effective. Don’t forget to mention your business name, but make sure not to overuse it. Google is not cool with that.

Here’s an example on how to respond to a positive review:

“Hi (FirstName), thanks so much for taking the time to write a review about your account manager, Jake — we think he’s pretty amazing, too. The (Company Name) team is happy to hear that you enjoyed building your new website with us. When you’re ready to [try a new product OR add something to your existing product OR check out our latest service], call us, and we can get you going.”

Example of a response to a negative review

Managing negative reviews online requires a subtle touch that builds trust with customers. You want to first apologize for whatever issue the customer has, as well as thank the customer for choosing your business. Ask how your business can make the negative experience turn around into a positive one. Focus on presenting the strengths of your business, before offering a second apology at the end of your response. Once again, writing a short and clear response is the way to go.

Here is an example on how to respond to a negative review:

“Hi (First Name), we are sorry to hear about your experience, and we really appreciate you sharing your feedback with us. We consider our customers as part of the family, and we are sorry we missed the mark when you last joined us. My name is (First Name), and I am the (Your Position.) I’d be happy to speak to you personally to try and make things right. Please contact me at (phone number or email address).”

The bottom line — staying engaged with customers

You never want customers to leave your business dissatisfied with the inferior quality of a product or a service. Before the Internet, most customers did not display their dissatisfaction with a business. They simply walked out the door never to return. Now, you can bring dissatisfied customers back through the door by responding to negative reviews. Moreover, by responding to positive online reviews, you can build a growing base of loyal customers that drives sales.

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