Oh man, that dang internet is noisy—Information galore. Companies and personalities have websites priced in the tens of thousands of dollars. Everyone has the best product, the most sought-after service, and everyone is number one. . . that is, until you look at their reviews.
Through all the noise, online reviews are and will continue to be a leading factor that sets companies apart from one another. Business information on the company’s own website or any company literature is bound to be biased; that’s what marketing is all about. However, online reviews hit the truth-spot. According to a WebPunch study, 41% of consumers look to online reviews when deciding which business they want to hire. It’s hard to fake a two-star rating on Google when 800 people have reviewed the company. On the other hand, a five-star review is truth just the same.
Regardless of the type of review, we think it’s best if businesses respond to all the reviews within 24 hours; there can be great opportunities in doing so. For starters, Google is now ranking businesses on local search results based on their review responses.
A negative review doesn’t mean you should go into hiding. Instead, it’s a time to act. 51% of consumers who posted a negative online review did not receive any attempt from that business to rectify the situation. That’s a major gap waiting to be filled – by you. In the same study, 33% of consumers said they expect something to be done when they post a negative review.
Responding to negative reviews gives you the chance to turn a detractor—someone who gives your company a negative review—into a loyal brand ambassador. We’ve laid out some steps to take when responding to negative online reviews here, and remember, don’t skimp when you do respond. It may take some time, funds, and resources, but they will all be well-spent.
In a story we wrote late last year, we talked with the franchise director of Goldfish Swim School, a swim instruction franchise. She uses customer feedback, especially negative feedback, to improve their operations. In turn, they are able to provide a better experience for their customers—it’s an ongoing process.
Don’t stop at negative reviews, though. We’ve found it best to respond to positive feedback as well. This is where I’ll segue into a personal experience:
When I started writing for WebPunch, more and more I began to see online reviews differently. One day, I was researching an auto mechanic in my neighborhood. The shop that I had been going to closed its doors after 50 years of service. So I looked into another shop up the street that was recommended by my mechanic. They didn’t have much of a website, so I scrolled through their Google reviews. I found that I was most interested in their negative reviews which the business diligently responded to. Even more impressive, I thought, was that they were responding to positive reviews. Customers that left four- and five-star reviews were elated about their experience and the representative of the company responding to the reviews was showing equal appreciation. The responder asked them to spread the word, invited them to come back, and even simply replied with a genuine thank you.
For me, as a new customer I was sold. Seeing the company respond to negative reviews helped me rationalize customer issues. Seeing them respond to positive reviews signaled to me that they were very involved in their business and routinely paid close attention to detail. Not only did they want to rectify poor customer experiences, they also wanted to take the time to praise the good times. Someone was watching and constantly keeping tabs on their online reputation and they wanted all to feel welcome.
Seeing how involved the company was with their clients made me feel comfortable about the experience I would get. And my experience reflected their reviews.
We talk a lot about responding to negative customer experience, but responding to the good reviews can be just as beneficial. Be active in your online reputation. Responding to online reviews, both positive and negative within 24 hours can show your customers that you’re listening and that you care.