Reviews are vital for any business. While, of course, reading the positive ones feels good, they also act as independent social proof that your business is genuine and trustworthy.
It’s important to encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews on Facebook, your Google Business Profile, and other business directories so that other potential customers can see what other people think about your business.
It’s important to continue this practice regularly as customers generally only take notice of the last four weeks’ reviews. If you don’t have any in that time period, it’s possible that can impact your business negatively. For example, you may find that your leads drop off as potential customers choose other businesses over yours.
But now you have your reviews, what do you do with them? Yes, they look good, and you can quote them as testimonials on your website and in your marketing.
But the most important thing you can do with them is to respond, even to the negative ones.
The trick is in how to respond to reviews to enhance your reputation.
Why respond at all?
As we said, reviews provide great social proof all on their own, but if you respond, you can add to your company’s reputation.
“Responsive industry leaders get higher ratings. Faster review response times are closely linked to having a positive reputation.” – Review Trackers
Even simply liking a review and saying “thank you” makes a difference. Reviewers like to feel valued and appreciated and a “thank you” does that. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but the impact can reach far beyond the sole reviewer that you replied to.
1) Build your reputation and outshine the competition
Don’t forget that other potential customers read reviews too, and your responsiveness can be the difference between them choosing you and choosing the competition. You need every ounce of difference and goodwill that you can wring out of your marketing and one way to differentiate yourself can be to respond properly to your reviews, especially if your competitors don’t.
Think about when you interact with people on Facebook and other social platforms. You wouldn’t ignore comments on social media, so don’t do it here. It’s just as important, and you can create an excellent impression of great customer service if you respond well to your reviews.
On social media, people want to see you interact. They want to see how responsive you are, because they then form an impression of how responsive you will be if they do business with you. They get an understanding of what it’s like to talk to you and work with you from your responses.
And it’s just the same with your reviews. If you don’t respond at all or if you’re dismissive and rude, that certainly doesn’t create the right first impression for people who may not have heard of you before.
But lovely, friendly comments, thanking people for their time, and responding quickly and politely to questions? You’re creating a great impression in people’s minds, that can lead to more business, and not just from new customers.
2) Create repeat business
The people who took the time to leave a review are people who were so delighted with what you did that they made an effort to find a review site and write something about you. Not only do you remind them of your existence and keep your company top of mind when you respond, but a nice, polite response can encourage them to book again.
3) Generate more word-of-mouth marketing
You may also find that you create super fans if you respond in the right way and go the extra mile, too. Which business doesn’t want more people who can’t wait to tell everyone about their company? Now, that’s worth a few minutes to reply, isn’t it?
You could answer questions in your reviews and guide people to more information that will help them solve their problems. Again, it adds to your glowing reputation, but it is also genuinely helpful. It’s beyond the bare minimum of what you needed to do, but it makes both the original reviewer and anyone else that reads your reply feel good about your company.
4) Share your other services in your review responses
Be careful with this and don’t overdo it, but if there’s an opportunity to tell people about your other services, then take it. Provide links to your service pages, where appropriate, and help people find what they need. This may also let both existing clients and potential clients know of services they didn’t know you offered.
5) Add to your SEO
Google sees all and it does include your most recent reviews on your Google Business Profile. So, make the most of it. Again, don’t overdo this, but try to include great keywords, local keywords, and phrases in your review replies to aid your SEO efforts.
For example, try something like this:
“Hi there! Thanks so much for your kind review of Company Name, Local Area. We do our best to provide the best Your Services we can, and we appreciate your business. Feel free to call us any time on Telephone Number, if you have any questions or need our help.”
Simple, and it works.
3 Golden Rules on How to Respond to Reviews
1) Keep in mind why you are responding and who will be reading your reviews
While you’re responding to individual reviews, keep in mind who will be reading your reviews and your responses. You’re responding to all of your potential customers who will be doing research, not just the person who left the review.
According to Trustpilot, around nine out of ten of us will read reviews before choosing a product or service. That’s who you are responding to. You need people to see your company’s response and it’s a great way to show some of your personality and what it’s like to work with you. You can encourage potential customers to investigate your business further and to get in touch with the right responses.
Sometimes reviews are maddening, or you may think they are fake. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to tell your side of the story. If not for the person who left the review, do it for all of the potential customers who will be reading it later.
Keep in mind that you want to create the best impression possible when you write your responses.
2) Be professional
No matter how frustrating the review might be, keep it professional.
Some people are going to leave you a negative review, no matter what you do. You really can’t please everyone. But don’t ignore your reviews, no matter how negative. Other potential customers want to see your response and how you deal with a negative review. That’s an important part of the impression you create online.
What you can do is be as polite and professional as possible in your response and see what you can do to turn things around and get a positive outcome.
If you really feel the urge to snap at a reviewer, then step away and take a minute to calm down. Being rude won’t do your company any favors and will put people off buying from you.
Come back to it when you’ve thought through your response and you can be polite and calm.
Acknowledge what the review has said and offer an apology. Don’t try to argue with them in your response. You don’t want an ever-nastier argument developing in public for people to read and judge later.
Keep your cool. Offer to help and put things right if it’s a genuine complaint.
Then do everything you can to continue the conversation out of public channels. The sooner you can take the conversation private, the less likely the reviewer will be to leave negative reviews on another review site.
Provide them with a phone number where they can talk to a real person, not a machine, and give the phone number of someone who has the authority to act and resolve the complaint. You can also offer an email address to give people a choice, though many do prefer to speak to a human being.
If they call, success! You’ve taken them off the public internet. Again, be calm, friendly, and polite, and do your best to talk them down. Consider offering a discount or a refund if it’s appropriate.
Try to encourage the customer to agree to amend their negative review if you can see you are getting through to them.
When you’re done, write up a short response, on the review, showing what you did about it.
This is an impressive way of dealing with a negative review that reflects well on your company and leaves your review page looking good for potential customers.
3) Keep things short and to the point
We live in a fast-paced world. Attention spans are short, and nobody wants to read a novel, so stay out of the weeds and summarize whenever possible.
Even if the reviewer left a review that stretched several paragraphs, you should try to keep your response to 1 or 2 paragraphs at the most.
It’s tempting to go through paragraph by paragraph and fight back on every point, but don’t do it. You won’t come across well, and even worse, most people won’t read it all.
Be succinct and polite, and give enough information to satisfy the reviewer, whether their review is good or bad.
Schedule a demo of Surefire Local’s business intelligence marketing software
Instead of having to sign into multiple platforms and respond to reviews, save yourself a whole of time by using one platform to send review requests, respond to reviews, and analyze your online reputation across the most popular review platforms.
You can also manage the whole of your marketing on our all-in-one marketing platform, including content creation, email marketing, and your social media. With up-to-the-minute statistics and reports, you’ll always know how your business is doing and what’s working.