After creating business profiles on the most important websites on the internet, there’s nothing more important to local businesses than reviews. They constantly add fresh content to help rank your local business, and they provide social proof that convinces leads to convert into customers.
The most important review sites all let you respond to reviews. Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Nextdoor, and more all give business owners the opportunity to respond to reviews whether they’re negative or positive.
But do you really need to respond to all your online reviews no matter what?
The answer to this question depends on many factors. If you only get reviews every few weeks and don’t have a ton then there’s no reason you shouldn’t respond to reviews. But what if you’re an extremely busy restaurant near a major tourist destination? You’re probably not going to respond to 20 reviews every single day.
There’s a lot more subtlety to it than that, though. This article will help you understand the importance of responding to customer reviews, both positive and negative, and also when you can skip responding.
But first, why is responding to a review important at all?
Why Responding To Reviews Is Important
Customers want to be seen and heard. A quick, public response to their review shows that you care about them enough to take time out of your day. Showing customers and potential ones that you care about their feedback and taking time out of your busy day to acknowledge their experience goes a long way toward developing loyalty among current fans as well as attracting new ones.
By engaging with your reviewers in a polite and professional manner, you increase trust while also enhancing customer loyalty by humanizing your business. And this isn’t just good for Google rankings—it’s something you should do whether it affects search engine visibility!
When responding to reviews, keep in mind that they’re public for everyone to see. That means you can really improve your business image with a simple yet effective response. They give you an opportunity to be grateful to your customers and encourage repeat business.
There are definitely many reasons why responding to online reviews is important. But that doesn’t answer the question about the need to respond to all reviews. Before we get to that, in order to respond to any reviews online, you have to claim your business profiles online.
Claim Business Profiles To Respond
Every website on the internet requires you to have claimed your profile before you can respond to a review. If you haven’t claimed your profiles then you aren’t even likely to know someone left you a review, though.
So, if you want to reply to your reviews, go out there and claim your profiles first. On Google, you’ll first need to claim your Business Profile. That also goes for Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Nextdoor too.
We have an article that will help you set up your Nextdoor business page, so you can respond to recommendations and also let customers tag your business in their recommendations. That makes it easy for people to actually find your business page when you’re recommended just by tapping on your business name in the recommendations!
Why You Should Respond To All Your Online Reviews
In the age of review sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, it’s critical to respond to all your customer reviews, including positive ones. The biggest mistake companies make is assuming that a positive review will speak for itself.
Even when you do everything right by providing an excellent product or service, if you don’t respond to your customers’ online comments about their experiences with you and your business in a timely manner (or at all), those customers may lose excitement about your business and not recommend you anymore. If they don’t feel seen and listened to, they will likely feel ignored.
Since negative information travels faster than positive information, responding quickly to any review can help prevent customer sentiment from turning neutral or even negative.
If you respond to all your online reviews then you’re acknowledging your customers and furthering the conversation. Responding is a good way to remain more memorable to your customers and create long-term goodwill.
If you receive a neutral review that has some suggestions, then you’re acknowledging the information and can use it to improve your business. That’s great customer service from a customer’s perspective!
You can even go beyond just responding to your online reviews. You can contact the reviewer and ask them to share even more. Of course, you might offer them something in return.
Share Positive Reviews
There are many ways to share positive reviews. It’s usually okay to take positive Google reviews and post them on your company Facebook page or website. Every small business owner should add testimonials to their website, so visitors know others like your business too.
You can even take a positive review and create a marketing image with it. You can then share them on social media or perhaps even show them at your business location. Responding to reviews is important, but sometimes you should take it further, especially in the beginning.
Take every review you receive and get as much mileage as you can out of it. Reviews will fade in trust after about six months. That makes it especially important to respond and then ask permission to use it in other places too.
Why Respond to Positive Reviews?
They already enjoyed your business enough to leave a review, so why would you waste your time responding?
A positive online review is a gift from a customer to your local business. Respond to it with thanks, appreciation and encouragement that will hopefully motivate them to write more reviews for you (and others) in the future. This is especially true for an eCommerce business where the customer can leave reviews on other products.
When positive reviews roll in, respond personally as soon as possible on review sites, it shows that you are grateful and appreciative of their support for your business. Thank the reviewer for taking time out of their day to share their experience with others on your website or other channels where the review was posted.
Responding to good reviews creates goodwill with your customer. You have to consider it takes about 12 positive customer reviews to make up for one bad review! After you receive new positive reviews, phrase your responses to hype up your business promoters even more by using words like “awesome,” “amazing,” “thanks so much.”
Why You Shouldn’t Respond To Every Online Review
There are some exceptions to responding to every online review. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense and could even get you in trouble. Then there’s the fact that some reviews have so little content that they don’t need a response.
You probably shouldn’t respond to any review that’s just a star rating with no review text at all. If you do respond to all of these, then you risk diminishing your response to an actual review. People aren’t going to look through all those, and they don’t really build trust.
A response will only build trust and social proof for your local business if they are in response to a review with content. Not only that, but your response needs to have some content also that acknowledges the original review.
Under almost all circumstances, you should respond to negative reviews. A negative review without a response can look bad. That is, unless the negative review is so nasty, so far out there and untrustworthy, no customer is actually going to pay attention to it.
Not only that, some bad reviews you might not respond to because you’d rather work on getting them removed. Yelp has policies preventing many things in reviews. If you think it can be removed, go that route first.
Then there are regulatory exceptions. For instance, if your business has to abide by HIPAA, then you might have to walk a fine line of responding. It’s a myth that you can’t respond to any reviews or even allow reviews, but you do have to be careful. You can learn more about how you can respond to reviews in these sensitive situations from the AMA, which provides a great article about physicians and responding to online patient reviews.
If your business is extremely busy with dozens of reviews a day, I don’t think you can keep up with that number of reviews. Sometimes it’s find to be picky and choosy. If you have a high number of reviews, be selective of those reviews with decent content and then skip the rest.
There are other situations you might not want to respond to reviews, but outside a few reasons, you’ll want to respond to the majority of them. A response is always better than no response as long as it’s from the heart.
How To Respond To Positive Reviews
Positive reviews are great, but sometimes you might not have time to reply. Responding with new or relevant information related to the person’s experience can also help bridge that gap between satisfied customer and potential future one. Be careful not to make it too sales-focused.
Even though they’re already a happy customer, don’t pressure them into buying something else. You want them to come back because of your service and products, not just another sale.
Here are some things you should do when responding to a positive review.
They didn’t have to leave you a nice review or give you feedback at all, so when someone does take time out of their day to share their experience, say thank you. That’s a good way to let them know that their kind deed didn’t go unnoticed. Depending on your relationship with this reviewer, this could mean anything from thanking them publicly online or some other way.
Whether your customer left a positive or negative review, they often do expect a response. They also expect a response quickly. Most customers expect a customer service response in seven days or less.
Customers want to be seen and not ignored. That means you should respond to their review, and you should do it quickly. Otherwise, you risk someone feeling ignored. It may seem needy to you, but that’s not for you to decide.
If they don’t get a response or quick response, they may be more willing to try out your competition next time.
Keep It Short
Writing online is at its best when users can quickly scan the content in order to consume it. Always try to make your writing as short as possible but still get the point across. Use short sentences and paragraphs.
Try not to abbreviate, use jargon, or even use acronyms. Keep the writing simple, short, and approachable.
Be Authentic and Personal
Customers can immediately tell when they are getting a canned response versus an original response that’s unique. When you respond in an authentic and genuine way, customers will appreciate that you took the time to actually respond.
In addition to appreciating your efforts, you’ll be creating a real connection rather than meaningless words. People trust people, not businesses, and a real response from a person will always come across better than something canned.
If it’s not possible for one person from your team to personally answer every inquiry, at least take steps toward making sure your responses feel personalized. You can even start with a canned response that has sections you fill in order to create a more unique response out of a template. That will save some time but also keep responses authentic and personal.
Encourage Them To Take Action
People don’t think beyond their review very often. You can encourage further action by making recommendations or helping them with next steps. There should be nothing preventing you from thanking them with a coupon if the review site allows it.
Your business will vary for how you can encourage further action, but think about it and come up with some actions someone could want to take after they leave a review. Maybe they really liked a certain meal at a restaurant. You could thank them for the review and also make recommendations for something they might also really enjoy.
Now a happy customer feels seen, and they even have a great reason to visit again!
How To Respond To Negative Reviews
One of the toughest parts about running a business is handling criticism. Whether it comes from an unhappy customer, a competitor or even your own boss, you may be tempted to respond defensively and ignore the issue altogether.
There’s nothing worse than a 1-star rating. Every business owner feels that deep.
But responding wisely can help you turn a negative situation into an opportunity for growth and improve your relationship with the person raising concerns.
Here are some tips that will help you do just that:
- If the review is about a unique situation and the first time you’re hearing a complaint, contact them directly by email or phone to address their issues as soon as possible to resolve the issue.
- Show that you’re authentic and genuine by letting people know who they’re dealing with rather than shielding yourself behind cryptic company emails. You can even sign off a response with your name, position, phone number, and email address.
- Review even more steps for responding to negative reviews online in this in-depth article.
Online reviews are important. They can help current customers find you and new customers decide whether to use your service or shop at your store.
Responding to every single review is not necessarily necessary, but understanding how many good (and bad) reviews you have, where they come from and what the overall sentiment of all reviews is essential for any business owner or marketer.
There are several ways to do this manually – read every review on every website, respond individually when needed – but there’s a better way: using a tool designed specifically for local marketing automation and managing online reputation.