Why People Post Reviews Online and Why You Every Business Should Respond
There are plenty of reasons why customers choose to post reviews to your Facebook Page or other social media site, but they largely fall into two camps - to share a positive experience or to complain very publicly. Good and bad reviews on Facebook or elsewhere can make and break your brand, but how you respond to them can be just as important.
Many brands tend not to reply to any review, regardless of its sentiment - and they're missing out! Every review is an opportunity to learn about how you conduct your business, who your audience is, and the chance to build long-term relationships with customers whether their comments were full of praise or not so kind.
What's more, the sheer visibility of reviews and star-ratings have a huge impact on whether a person will decide to use a business or not. That doesn't mean necessarily that a consumer won't consider using a business unless they have a perfect 5-star rating - most people know that no business is perfect and don't get everything right ALL of the time. However, they are looking for a business that they can trust - and approaching reviews from a business perspective in the right way can go a long way to fostering that trust.
These figures show the importance of online reviews:
- A third of customers post online following inadequate customer service, sharing comments about your brand to their network and beyond (New Voice Media)
- 88% of people read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (Bright Local)
- 87% of people say that a business need a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them.
- 52% of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of giving an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical. (Review Trackers)
- 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business (Bright Local)
- When a brand responds to a customer on social media, 65% are more brand loyal and 25% percent are less likely to go somewhere else or post negative things (Sprout)
In this blog post, I'll show you how best to respond to any review (negative, positive or neutral) - on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc., along with example responses that you can tweak to make your own. Let's go!
1. How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media
People who have a negative experience are more likely to tell their friends and family about it. They'll hear it both in person and when the review is shared online. Meanwhile, ANYONE who visits your social page will be able to see that one-star rating and use it as an indicator as to whether they'll pay you a visit or steer clear.
Choosing not to reply and hoping that the issue will blow over is not recommended. Responding in the correct way to a bad review is a way to heal the hurt feelings of an upset customer and to help them and others see your brand in a positive light again. Picking up on individual keywords within a negative review is a really good way to think about formulating a personalised reply and encouraging a more positive outcome.
- Write a short, non-confrontational reply that shows that you have read and understood the issue(s) raised, even if they are unfounded. Be specific and acknowledge the customer’s concerns; show sympathy that they had a bad experience.
- Sincerely apologise for the upset caused offer to make things right.
- Thank the customer for their visit and taking the time to provide feedback.
- Reassure them by explaining how the issue has been or will be resolved for the future. As a sweetener, you could offer a discount or freebie to welcome them back next time.
- Avoid including your business name and location in the reply, so that the negative review is less likely to be prioritised (and found) in search engines.
EXAMPLE RESPONSE TO NEGATIVE REVIEW
Thank you for your comments. I’m very sorry to hear about your experience. This is definitely not the standard of service our customers have come to expect from us, [share what normally happens]. Please contact me, as I would like to make up for your disappointment. [Name, Job Title, Email Address and/or Phone Number]
2. How to Respond to Positive Reviews on Social Media
When someone leaves a positive review for your business, you know instantly that they were pleased enough with their experience that they felt compelled to share their thoughts with you and their friends on social media. Responding to a positive review is a fantastic way to engage a customer further and build upon brand loyalty.
- Thank the customer for their kind words, and for their visit or purchase. Be specific in your wording.
Include your business name, location, and keywords within the response. Doing so will help the positive review appear in search results.
Invite the customer to do something. Ask the customer to return, use another service or spread the word.
Include your business name and location within your response to a positive review, as this will help it appear in help it to appear in search results.
- If the opportunity presents itself (i.e. if the customer has hinted at it within their review), include information about upcoming sales, promotions or events for their benefit and anyone else who reads your reply - but read the signals on this one. The last thing you want to do is sour positive sentiment by appearing to be use it as an opening for blatant marketing.
- If you have identified them as a particularly loyal customer, reach out to them privately to offer a little reward for their generosity.
EXAMPLE RESPONSE TO POSITIVE REVIEW
Hi [Customer Name], We’re so pleased that you enjoyed [something specific customer mentioned in their review], everyone at [business name] was so proud to hear such wonderful comments! Next time you’re here, you should try the [insert a feature or special], or join us for [upcoming event]. Thanks for leaving the positive review, I hope to see you again soon. Regards, [Business Name / Manager / Owner].
3. How to Respond to Neutral Reviews on Social Media
Research by Brandify found that, on average, neutral reviews make up half of all reviews received by retail brands, but only a fraction of these actually receive a reply. Neutral reviews give your brand the chance to nurture a part-satisfied customer into feeling more positive about your brand and more likely to visit you again in future.
According to the Harvard Business School, a one-star improvement on Yelp can translate to a 5-9% revenue increase.
Neutral reviews (three star rating) will include a mixture of positive and negative sentiment. Whether the negative portion is concerned, you should treat it in your response it as if it was a one star review. While the feedback might not be wholly positive, take the time to respond. Doing so shows that you genuinely appreciate customer feedback and are eager to seek their full approval in future.
- If the customer has highlighted a problem to which you know the solution, thank the customer for their feedback and explain how you aim to improve service in future.
- Like with a negative review, don't be afraid to offer a coupon or discount to entice them back. Alternatively, you can remind the customer of new products, offerings, or events in the pipeline that may be the perfect time to invite them to try you again - and to prove that you can meet their full expectations.
Social Media Review Responses: Additional tips and strategies
Ask for reviews
50% of consumers say will leave a review for a business if asked, reinforcing the need for virtually every business to have a reputation marketing strategy. You can request that customers leave reviews in plenty of ways - in person at your store, on the bottom of a receipt or email, marketing material that comes packaged with your product, etc. Timing is key! Present the opportunity at the point where your customer is most likely to be pleased at the service they have received.
Bury negative reviews with positive ones
You may be able to persuade a once-unhappy customer to update their negative review to a more positive one, but chances are that most will not and you'll be stuck with it. And since most review sites don't allow businesses to delete bad reviews, your next goal should be to drown it in a sea of great four- or five-star reviews. Use the tips above about encouraging reviews and over time, the positive reviews will drown out the negative ones. Any future customers reading reviews will see the bad ones as more of a one-off, and not the norm for your business.
Keep review replies short
In general, you should try to keep all review replies short and succinct - t three sentences for your whole reply is a good rule of thumb.. Remember, it's not just the reviewer who will read your reply, but all other potential customers. If your responses aren't easy to digest, then they might simply move onto a competitor. In regards to bad reviews in particular, don't go into too much detail or ask any questions. This will prevent you saying something that might cause the disappointed customer to add more negative feedback by replying to your comment. If your response needs to be long, offer to take the conversation private and contact the customer one-to-one.
Respond to reviews as fast as you can manage
Responding to reviews quickly lets customers know that you are attentive and considerate to their thoughts. When a customer has left a review (particularly if it was negative), they may bait you with questions and be actively waiting for a response. If it's not possible to drop everything and reply during your average work day, don't sweat it, but do try and set aside some time in a day to respond to all reviews and other customer comments.
Over to you
I hope this post has given you lots of good advice to help you deal with all types of reviews on social media, and how to turn any type of customer feedback into an opportunity to grow engagement and brand loyalty. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and the author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.