Responding to Customer Reviews:

Why Should Your Brand Respond To Online Reviews?

April 25, 2019

Word-of-mouth marketing used to be the name of the game when it came to managing your business’ reputation. Though word-of-mouth is still very important, most people today will get to know your brand’s reputation through an altogether different medium: their Google searches and reading online reviews.

Not all that long ago, responding to the reviews left by your customers online meant that, as a company, you were going above and beyond the call of duty to provide exceptional customer service. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Brands are now expected to respond to customer comments. And these responses have officially gone from a nice little "extra" to something “essential” to the overall consumer experience.

Taking A Look At The Numbers

Who reads reviews? Today, nearly everyone. According to the latest research, roughly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase (Spiegel Research Center, 2017) and 93% of people use reviews to judge whether a local business is good or bad (BrightLocal, 2017). And that’s not all. A full 72% of customers won’t even consider taking action until after they have read reviews on the product or service they’re mulling over (Testimonial Engine). What this means is that your company’s online reputation matters more than ever before. Significantly more. Thankfully, you’ve got some say in the matter.

Customer Expectations And Brand Engagement

If a customer leaves a public review, they likely expect a prompt response. However, this turning point in consumer expectations hasn’t just meant more work on the part of your internal customer service team. It also means that your customers are talking to you more than they ever had before. And (an extra bonus) they’re being more honest with what they say.

Businesses are getting critical and direct insight into their performance in the minds of their customers. And they’re getting it free of charge. A well-crafted response from your brand is a great way to say thank you for the feedback—be it positive, negative, or neutral.  

What about star ratings? Your customers still care about them, sure. A five-star rating is still considered better than a one-star rating, without a doubt. But that’s not where consumers are placing value. In fact, near three out of four people (73%)  say they value written reviews over numeric star ratings (Fan and Fuel, 2016). This emphasis on what is written extends to what you say in response to those reviews.

Any review can be viewed as a gift directly to your brand. A positive review is a thank-you note. A negative review is a cry for help. Those in the middle are slips in your company suggestion box. The review now becomes a tool and an opportunity to build, strengthen, and repair relationships with your customers.

An Example

Let’s imagine a fitness connoisseur named Sarah attends classes at two different yoga studios over the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, she writes negative reviews on her experiences with both studios. On Monday, she logs into her laptop and finds that the owner of Yoga Studio A has responded to her review with a genuine and sincerely written apology as to why service at her studio was sub-par that Saturday. Meanwhile, she hears nothing from Yoga Studio B on Sunday’s lack-luster class.

“So, Yoga Studio A cares about me,” Sarah is left to deduct. “And  Yoga Studio B couldn’t care less.” On Sarah’s end, this is a quite rational and typical response. It creates a lasting emotional memory that will likely inform where she chooses to practice yoga in the future, and if she would ever give either studio a second chance.

What you say, or don’t say, makes a real and lasting impact.

The experience of receiving a personalized response from a brand changes the game for consumers and companies alike. From here on out, any brand that neglects to respond seems untransparent, inaccessible, and uncaring. Conversely, brands that respond, will be seen as honest, authentic, and humanitarian. So answer your reviews. The conversation you have (or don’t) online with your customers builds a narrative around your brand. Make sure it’s one you are proud of.

Want Help Managing Your Business Or Brand’s Online Reputation?

We can help! Reputation Studio is an Enterprise Online Reputation Management (ORM) platform that consolidates customer reviews into one dashboard, automates the routing of reviews to teams, posts responses in real-time, and applies AI to provide actionable insights and track the sentiment and intent.

Contact us today for a demo.