Online reviews matter for many reasons. Organizations across niches prioritize getting more feedback because it increases credibility, boosts local search engine optimization (SEO) and facilitates engagement. You can also use reviews for customer feedback management (CFM), or the practice of gathering and analyzing feedback data to get valuable insights into the customer experience.
Perhaps most importantly, online reviews significantly impact purchasing decisions. In a study published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 93 percent of consumers say online reviews will affect their shopping choices.
Reviews Can Make or Break Your Online Business Reputation
Also important is how quickly, often and well you respond to online reviews. Your approach to responding to positive reviews, as well as negative, impacts the way potential and current customers view your business. According to Google for Small Business, customers view companies that respond to reviews as 1.7 times more trustworthy than those that don’t.
To protect and even improve your online business reputation, responding to customer feedback is a must.
Unfortunately, small- and medium-sized businesses typically do not have the time or resources to respond individually to every review. What’s more, customers leave feedback on several platforms, making online review monitoring even more difficult.
Response Templates – A Short-Term Solution to Protect Your Online Business Reputation
One way to lessen the load is to utilize review response templates. It’s not a long-term solution, as it doesn’t deliver the same benefits as personalized, custom responses and a review monitoring service. However, they may be helpful for organizations keen on dipping their toes into online review monitoring and customer feedback management before they hire online reputation consultants.
By using templates, you reduce the amount of time needed for responding to negative reviews and positive feedback. Although you might not give readers the kind of personalized response they’ve come to expect, at the very least, you’ll be able to reply quickly.
Keep in mind that this approach is not ideal for complex, nuanced feedback, the kind that a human-led review monitoring and response service can easily detect. Instead, it’s best for responding to customer feedback that is both positive and simple.
“Positive is easy – just say thank you and make it personal,” said Tim Clarke, Senior Reputation Manager of Rize Reviews. “Negative is much harder. You have to be polite and not fight back. You must be professional and factual and try to escalate it offline.”
A negative review response template differs from a positive review response template in that the former shouldn’t just acknowledge the reviewer’s bad experience. It should also direct the reviewer to a company representative who will provide a resolution.
Responding to Positive Reviews and Negative Feedback: Best Practices
After online review monitoring, the next step is to respond to all feedback. The following are best practices to help improve customer experience while protecting your online business reputation.
Say “Thank You”
It’s important to say “thank you” in every response, even in your negative review response template, as it acknowledges both the customer’s purchase of your product or service and their efforts in leaving you an honest review.
Even if their feedback wasn’t very complimentary, they still took the time to bring their issues with your offerings to your attention. So while negative reviews might sting, the data they impart is something to be thankful for.
To illustrate, what if the shirts you’d been selling weren’t colorfast or the customer service representative you hired was rude, and nobody said anything? You’d be watching your sales plummet for weeks or months without knowing why.
Be Friendly and Sympathetic
Your care for your customers should shine through your review responses. Customers want their efforts at writing a review and supporting your business to be acknowledged, and a curt “Thanks for the feedback” is unlikely to make them feel valued.
While it’s important to keep responses short for readability, it’s a good practice to include a longer “thank you” note in your positive review response template. Try to let your customer know, in a few sentences, that their feedback on a specific experience, product or service with your brand is not just appreciated but helpful. After all, feedback can be used to gather information on future improvements to your service or product.
It’s even more important to sound warm and caring when responding to bad feedback. While it might be difficult to do so if you’re using a negative review response template, adding a line or two acknowledging their dissatisfaction as well as a reassurance that one of your staff will reach out to them immediately for a resolution will help de-escalate the situation.
Personalize Your Responses
You might have seen some fairly colorless and bland responses to reviews online. They’re likely to be templates. Customers, as a rule, prefer humanized responses to canned ones. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 82 percent of U.S. consumers want more human interaction, and 74 percent of non-U.S. consumers do as well.
A simple way to personalize a response is to include the customer’s name. For a deeply personalized experience, reference parts of their review in your response. However, remember that this is difficult, if not impossible, to do if you rely solely on templates and automation software. For this type of customized messaging, you might need to respond manually to some reviews or hire a company that provides online reputation management services.
No one likes waiting – in line at the store, for an important email or at the cinema. This is especially true for online customers. Negative feedback, in particular, should be responded to in a timely manner. This helps your business de-escalate the situation and provide a solution (as well as inspire the customer to edit their review to be more favorable).
Thankfully, customers do not require an instant response to be happy. For most, a helpful and thoughtful reply within a reasonable turnaround, such as 24 hours, is better than a cookie-cutter response sent within a few minutes.
You should also consider providing relevant information, such as a new product you want them to try or an upgrade to the software they purchased from you – in your positive review response template.
However, Google for Small Business warns not to make your approach too focused on making another sale. After all, the customer is already happy, and a hard sell might put them off from patronizing your business again. Also, avoid doing this when responding to negative reviews, as it might only anger the customer further.
Apologize When Appropriate
A good apology goes beyond just saying “sorry” while responding to negative reviews. If your customer has been inconvenienced, you should respond in a way that conveys your sincerity, accountability and, most importantly, your willingness to put things right.
Research from Case Western Reserve University found apologies extending beyond a few seconds can reduce customer satisfaction. What customers valued more, according to the study, is how well their complaint was handled and if their problems were resolved. So with that in mind, limit your apology to just a few sentences and focus the rest of your response on how you will fix things on your end.
Review Response Examples When Responding to Customer Feedback
Ready to start responding to positive reviews and negative feedback? Here are some generic review response examples to help you get started on building your templates. Keep the best practices outlined previously in this article in mind, and don’t forget to brand your responses by including your company name.
Review Response Examples for Positive Reviews
Use Case – For Expressing General Gratitude
“Thank you for taking the time to leave us with such a wonderful review!”
“We at [Company] are thrilled that you’re happy with our product/service.”
“Your review made our day!”
“We truly appreciate your kind words.”
Use Case – For Responding to 5-Star Ratings
“Your excellent rating made our team’s day. Thanks for sharing!”
“Wow! Thank you for the kind rating. It means the world to us at [Company].”
“It’s always a great feeling to know we’ve made our customers happy. Thank you for your 5-star rating!”
Use Case – For Adding Value
“We’re so glad you loved your stay. Did you know that if you book for weekends, you get 20 percent off the regular rate? We hope to see you again soon!”
“Thank you for your kind words about our customer service and our orange chicken. Next time you drop by [Company], try our crab rangoons. We’re sure you’ll love them!”
“We appreciate your positive feedback! It makes us at [Company] incredibly happy to know our customers love our services. Contact us anytime at [Email/Phone] if you would like to book another appointment.”
Review Response Examples for Negative Reviews
Use Case – For Apologizing and Offering Solutions
“We are very sorry you had such a poor experience. That is definitely not what we’re about at [Company]. We want to make it up to you. Please get in touch with us at [Email Address] and allow us to make things right.”
“We are sorry your experience failed to live up to your expectations. We would appreciate it if you took the time to provide more details about your concern – our email is [Email Address]. The information you provide will help us find the best possible solution for you.”
How Online Reputation Services Help Businesses Give Better Review Responses
As mentioned previously, feedback significantly impacts business reputation and builds customer loyalty. More than that, however, it illuminates opportunities to delight customers further. Through customer feedback management, you can use reviews as an excellent source of helpful insights into the pain points and goals of your target audiences as well as your existing customers.
Typical solutions offered by an online reputation management agency include:
- Timely review responses
- Review monitoring service
- Customer feedback management
However, the right online reputation management agency can go beyond these tasks and assist you with many aspects of your review response approach and online business reputation strategy. These include giving appropriate, personalized and more impactful review responses.
Experienced online reputation consultants will advise you on a better way to approach your feedback response strategy: customized replies crafted by real writers.
Elevate Your Approach to Online Review Responses With Rize Reviews
Review response needs to be done right the first time – saying the wrong thing to a customer may damage their view of your company and, ultimately, tarnish your online reputation. Without the right response, the customer is unlikely to give your business a second chance.
On the surface, using templates or automating review responses might seem like an easy way to avoid this kind of situation. After all, at least automated responses ensure that all feedback is acknowledged. However, cookie-cutter answers cannot convey empathy, warmth and dedication to customer experience like those written by humans do. And personalized, helpful responses are what customers demand.
Rize Reviews differs from other providers of online reputation management services in that we don’t use templates. Our full-service customer review, testimonials and reputation management agency has a team of writers who craft high-quality responses for businesses across industries.
“Real, live human responses are rare and stand out,” Clarke said. “Customers appreciate the human touch.”
To ensure that they deliver high-quality responses, our writers train with clients’ teams, read their style guides and study their brand voice. They are able to respond within one to two business days, ensuring timely acknowledgment of feedback. Rize Reviews writers respond to feedback via a centralized platform that syncs with more than 100 review sites, further speeding up the process.
Our review monitoring service frees up time ordinarily spent on tracking feedback left on multiple websites. Meanwhile, our review response services eliminate the need for business owners or their staff to respond manually to nuanced or negative feedback. This saves both time and resources.
Learn more about our review response solutions and other online reputation services. Reach out to us today to book a free demo.