In today’s marketplace, online reviews are one of the most crucial components of operating a successful business. Case in point, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchasing decisions.
And it is not necessarily a question of having a perfect five-star rating either. In fact, only 12% of consumers won’t use businesses with less than five stars, and 48% of consumers even consider using a business with fewer than four stars. So, you have a bit of wiggle room.
A key differentiator in giving your business a competitive edge is making sure you respond to customer reviews, both negative and positive. Surprisingly, 75% of businesses don’t even respond to reviews, so any business that takes the time to reply is automatically ahead of the game. Additionally, businesses that respond to at least 25% of their online reviews earn an average of 35% more revenue than those that don’t.
Negative reviews are a natural part of doing business, so don’t be afraid when one is directed at your company. Those reviews actually give you a chance to publicly right a customer service wrong. We all know no business is perfect. Negative reviews are an invitation to prove your business prioritizes its customers, even when circumstances are less than ideal.
Better Business Bureau suggests business owners follow these tips when responding to customer reviews of their operation:
- Thank the customer for sharing their opinion while specifically addressing their topic of concern.
- Be friendly, helpful and energetic. Offer an initial resolution and then show a sense of urgency in helping reach a speedy conclusion.
- Stick to facts and data, not people, personalities and emotions. Maintain a high level of professionalism, respect and decorum, while being friendly in tone.
- Set an expectation for next steps that the reviewer can prepare for, including any needed follow-up. Always leave the response open-ended to allow for any additional action to achieve the resolution.
- Take it offline when necessary. Some customers will want to argue and have the exchange displayed for everyone to see. In those instances, provide direct contact information for the customer to follow up.
The things you need to stay away from:
- Quoting policy or practice. This is risky, because you are setting yourself up for further ridicule. Explaining why you do something is a much better approach.
- Using canned responses that are not specific to the concern addressed. Other users will read responses every time they read reviews. If they see responses that aren’t addressing the specific situation, they will expect the same. Nobody wants a one-size-fits-all solution.
- Rambling communication. Reviewers are frustrated as it is, and any long response will feel clouded to them. This also leaves opportunity for the reviewer to pull a small section out, typically out of context and distort the overall reply. Show empathy, stick to facts and keep responses simple.
Lastly, don’t forget to respond to your positive reviews as well. Generate feel-good moments for you and the reviewer – you’ll gain a loyal customer in the process.
For more information on managing online reviews of your business, visit trust-bbb.org.
Keylen Villagrana is a content and PR specialist for Better Business Bureau Great West + Pacific.