Years ago, consumers relied primarily on word of mouth to relate important details about the businesses they frequented. In this digital age, however, it’s nearly impossible to interact with a business online without encountering customer reviews. With this amount of candid opinion floating around on the net, consumers have an almost unprecedented opportunity to share every last detail of their interaction with a business, along with their feelings about it.
By now, you’ve likely seen the statistics – in a recent poll, over 90% of consumers admitted that positive online reviews influence their purchasing decisions over the past year. Even more notable, however, is the fact that 72% of those put more stock in the content of online reviews than in the opinions and experiences of friends or family. Clearly, online reviews of your product or service have a marked effect on how prospective consumers view your business.
You Have Reviews! Now What?
Online reviews provide you with a remarkable opportunity to improve your business. Not only can you learn valuable lessons regarding your customers’ experience with your company, but you can also manage your reputation online by responding to reviews. However, it isn’t always easy to know how to respond.
To ensure you’re affecting your online reputation positively with your review responses, follow this list of essential dos and don’ts.
- Do get personal. Whether the review is positive or negative, refer to the user by name, if possible, to establish a more personal connection. Try to avoid responses that seem generic or automatically generated. Refer directly to a few details from the review in order to convey that you understand the comment and care about their experience.
- Don’t wait too long to respond. Customers who have a bone to pick with your business want to resolve their issues sooner rather than later. If possible, try to set aside a few minutes every day to respond to reviews; if you’re pressed for time, set a weekly reminder to read and respond to reviews.
- Do respond to positive reviews. Review responses are a great opportunity to interact with your customer base and improve your online presence. If someone has taken the time to compose a positive review, respond with a similarly thoughtful comment. Thank the customer for their business and make sure to tell them you appreciate the praise.
- Don’t overreact. Negative reviews can be tough – it’s hard to read criticism of your business, and harder to respond in a way that doesn’t come off as defensive, irritated, or combative. However, jumping to your business’s defense often does just that, and wastes your opportunity to display your dedication to customer service.
- Do apologize. Take a moment to apologize for the negative experiences the customer has had with your business. Provide an explanation for the situation, if there is one, but make sure you’re not just providing an excuse; acknowledge the failures that led to the situation and express a willingness to make changes in the future.
- Don’t get offended. It isn’t easy to read a review that disparages your business, and it’s even more difficult to remain composed when the review is patently untrue. Deep criticism and falsehoods often evoke emotional responses, and these can be killer to your online reputation. Instead, take some time away to ensure you’re calm before you respond, and do so politely.
- Do ask for input from others. While you may feel you’ve responded respectfully and provided constructive solutions to the situations presented in negative reviews, it’s worth having someone you trust read through your responses. Others can identify inconsistencies with your tone, or alert you to instances where you may not come off as sympathetic.
- Don’t veer off-brand. You’ve put time and effort into building your brand’s persona online, and you don’t want an exchange on a customer review to jeopardize that. Although review sections can seem much less formal than other forms of customer interactions, keep in mind that you’re engaging with customers on an important marketing channel. Stay professional and represent your brand as you would anywhere else.
- Do move disputes elsewhere. If you’ve apologized for a customer’s negative experience, offered resolution, and still found the customer to be combative, continue the potential negative back and forth away from the eyes of other consumers. Similarly, if a customer’s review warrants a more extensive look at the situation or would be more easily resolved via phone or email, don’t hesitate to move to private message. Simply request the customer send you a private message or request contact information so all involved are able to see you’ve made an effort to resolve the issue privately.
Overall, regardless of the nature of your online reviews, you want your responses to show that you’re a professional who truly desires to improve each customer’s experience. Each online review platform is an opportunity for you to engage with satisfied customers, and repair relations with others left less than satisfied.
If your online interactions leave something to be desired, Vizion Interactive can help. Our slate of digital marketing services, including PR managed services, are geared towards providing you with the customer engagement you’ve been searching for. Simply contact us online for a full consultation.