Online reputation is key for success and reviews are a critical component of the bigger picture when it comes to trust and buying decisions.
Over the last couple of years, there has been some excellent survey data accumulated, including but not limited to:
- 77% of consumers ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read reviews when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020). (BrightLocal)
- 89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews. (BrightLocal)
Google Review Signals are a Ranking Factor
When people use Google, online reviews also impact how businesses are ranked and where they show up in a search. This means that they matter to your business, and so does the way in which you reply to them, whether they are positive or negative.
If you are not sure how Google reviews work or what they say about your company, you might want to search for your business online or Google local business reviews (perhaps those of your competitors) to see how you compare. Where you have reviews, even if they are not recent, you might want to think about responding to them. You might also want to prepare templates for any you need to respond to in future.
Register as a Verified Business
To do this, first you’ll need to register as a verified business with Google, which you can do here. Once registered, you will be able to access your Google Business Profile, check reviews and respond to them. You can also see your Google rating and the total number of reviews posted about your business.
How to Respond to Google Reviews
You should always respond, whether the review is positive or negative. Your responses should always be professional, even if the reviewer is less than polite. This is because your responses can be seen by anyone who looks up your company on Google and what you say in them says a lot about your business. Carefully crafted responses to reviews can improve your reputation, even if the review is negative, making you appear honest, trustworthy and credible.
Responding to Positive Reviews
To help you to respond, consider the following:
Try and respond as quickly as possible. Google reacts positively when you do so and, more importantly perhaps, so do the people who leave the reviews. It shows that you care about what they think and are listening to them.
Thanking the customer is a good way to start your reply, acknowledging that they have taken the time and made the effort to leave feedback.
Respond to the customer’s specific comments; don’t just reply with a basic ‘thank you’ statement. This might include restating their positive comments, to reinforce them in people’s minds.
End your response by asking whether there is anything else you could have done, or whether the customer has any recommendations? Even if you have had a good review, it demonstrates that you care about your customers and helps build up a dialogue and a relationship between you, meaning they are more likely to use you again.
Draft your response, then review it carefully before sending it – or have someone else take a look. Check your response for tone (is it professional?) and make sure that the grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. Finally, think about the length. Too long and people will stop reading, so try to keep it short and to the point.
Your responses can be a marketing tool – think about adding keywords that promote your business or let customers know about something new you are doing that they may not be aware of (but only if it ties in – you don’t want to oversell).
How to Respond to Negative Feedback (See it as an Opportunity!)
Negative feedback does unfortunately happen but shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a bad thing. Showing that you have dealt with an unhappy customer’s complaint in a timely, professional and courteous manner showcases you in a good light. It might also lead to a positive follow-up comment by the same customer. You can almost always look at a negative review as an opportunity to turn that negative into a positive and wow the customer with your amazing customer service.
For negative feedback, follow the same guidelines listed above. Remember to say sorry or be transparent about any mistakes where justified and clarify anything that isn’t clear. You do not want to come across as angry or aggressive in your responses, as this will not show your business in a good light and may well deter other customers from using your services.
If you feel a review is inappropriate, check it against Google’s guidelines; you may be able to report it. If a review has upset you, take time before drafting and sending a response, allowing you to get some distance and think about the customer’s comments in a professional way, asking yourself whether they might be valid and considering how you should respond.
Once you have replied, think about whether there are changes you need to make to your business operations to stop other, similar negative reviews. If one person has made a complaint and you have dealt with it well, other customers are likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. They are less likely to do this if there are multiple negative reviews relating to the same issue.
What are the Most Popular Review Sites?
Google Reviews came out top in a survey, whereby local marketers’ favourite review sites were:
- Yellow Pages
[Source: BrightLocal, Online Reputation Management Survey]
Hope you have found the above information helpful and now understand why you should be replying to reviews left for you.