Thanks to the internet, word-of-mouth reviews are no longer the only way to get your name out there. Today, reviews exist on every corner of the internet, from Google to Yelp, Airbnb, and Trustpilot among others.
Online reviews can be a great way to showcase your strengths and build your reputation. However, if you don't manage them properly, they can hurt your business. In this article, we'll cover the importance of responding to reviews, how to reply to positive reviews, and most importantly, how to respond to negative reviews.
Why is it important to respond to reviews?
Responding to each and every review — regardless of whether it is good or bad — shows that you care about your customers' experience. This can help create a positive atmosphere and encourage potential customers to give your business a shot. In fact, 98% of customers read online reviews and 97% admit that online reviews actually influence their purchase decisions. Interestingly, a study by Spiegel Research Center also found that a product with five reviews is actually 270% more likely to be sold as compared to a product with zero reviews.
Thankfully, 73% of hotels understand that responding to reviews is a crucial part of their customer service strategy and take it upon themselves to reply to each and every review.
Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to customer service, but it also leaves customers feeling valued and respected. This can go a long way in helping to create loyal customers that will return time and time again.
Here are some more reasons why responding is important:
1. It shows professionalism.
Responding to reviews shows that you're a professional business owner who cares enough about customer satisfaction. This will help build trust between you and your customers, which means more positive reviews in the future, as well as repeat business from those who appreciate being treated so well by your brand.
2. It can provide valuable feedback for future improvements.
A negative review isn’t always bad. There's a good chance that it could be constructive criticism. Sometimes even if you think you've done everything right, there could be something wrong with your product or service that needs fixing. It’s also an opportunity for you to discover what your customers like about your business and how you can improve it in the future.
3. It may turn happy customers into brand advocates.
When a customer has a positive experience with your company, they are more likely to share this experience with others — both online and offline — via word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Replying directly to positive reviews gives customers an opportunity to praise your business publicly for going above and beyond for them personally.
4. It raises your ratings.
It’s no secret that good reviews help raise your ratings on review sites, which in turn brings more customers to your door. But did you know that responding to reviews takes this even further?
A study on Tripadvisor hotels revealed that replying to reviews generates around 12% more reviews. This consequently raises a property rating by 0.12 stars. On the surface, this seems like an inconsequential increase, but considering how Tripadvisor rounds up and down ratings, this can go a long way!
5. It increases brand visibility and engagement.
Customers who read your reviews will be more likely to check out your business if they see that you respond to every review. Your business may also show up higher on search engines like Google, which brings us to our next point.
Does responding to Google reviews help SEO?
Yes, it does. Google has its own algorithm for ranking pages in search results, and it takes into account how many social signals are associated with your page. This includes mentions of your business on various sites like Facebook, Tripadvisor, and Amazon. If you have more positive reviews than negative ones, then those will also contribute to your site's credibility in the eyes of both Google and your potential customers.
Responding to Google reviews also lets it know that your business is active and responsive, which can lead to improved rankings and visibility on the SERPs.
How should you respond to a review?
Indeed, the importance of responding to reviews, even the negative ones, cannot be overemphasized. It is an invaluable way to connect with customers, build trust, and grow your business. That said, if your response is anything less than stellar, it can actually do more harm than good. A poorly executed response can make you look like you don't care about your customers or that you're not willing to take responsibility for any issues they've had.
Here are our best tips on how to respond to every review you receive:
If possible, respond within 24 hours after receiving the review. If you're busy and won't be able to respond right away, let them know when they can expect a response and make sure they understand that you'll get back to them as soon as possible. This is much better than ignoring the review altogether or leaving them hanging.
Don’t react in anger.
Don't reply in anger or frustration to any negative review. It's tempting to fire off a response that defends your company or points out errors in the review when your blood is boiling, but doing so will only lead to more negative attention. If you respond in the heat of your emotions, you'll likely come across as combative or defensive, which can make things worse than they already are.
Thank the reviewer.
There are some businesses that will skip this part and go straight to the point, but it’s not a good idea. If a customer has taken the time to leave a review about your business, thank them. It’s a way to show them that they have been acknowledged and appreciated.
Address any issues or problems directly.
The best way to respond to a bad review is to do it where everyone can see it — whether that's on Facebook, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Booking or any other website. That way, everyone knows that you're dealing with the issue head-on and not hiding anything.
Ask questions if necessary, instead of making assumptions about what was written (e.g., "Would you mind explaining why this was an issue?"). This gives you an opportunity to learn more about what your customer is looking for and how to improve your services.
Own any mistakes and take responsibility for them.
Assume that every review is valid, even if it wasn't written by someone who has actually used your product or service. If they have a significant issue with your product or service, explain what went wrong in a way that shows sincerity, openness, and accountability. Avoid being defensive and making excuses, as these do nothing but anger your already unsatisfied customers.
If appropriate, offer an alternative solution in place of what they requested (e.g. if they wanted a refund but didn't get one, offer another form of compensation). If this doesn't work, consider offering a gift anyway — it might earn you goodwill from future customers who read the review.
Welcome suggestions for improvement or enhancement.
If customers have given you feedback on how to improve your business, take their suggestions seriously. Not all of them will be right for your business but some may be exactly what you need to hear in order to grow your revenue and improve customer satisfaction over time.
Don’t copy and paste your responses
A one-size-fits-all response won't do. You can't give the same templated response to every customer who leaves a review online. This makes it seem like you're not really interested in what that person has to say, and it can be hurtful if the reviewer feels like their opinion — both good and bad — isn't valued by the company. Worse, it will also reflect poorly on your business.
This is where an AI tool would be helpful. You don’t need to spend minutes thinking about how to respond to one comment. Instead, an AI Review Reply Assistant like MARA can instantly summarize the review for you and come up with a unique and personalized response which you can still further edit or customize to your liking.
Examples of how to respond to online reviews
Dealing with a negative review is never easy, but there are some tried-and-true ways to respond that will show the customer you care about their experience and that you're open to improving their experience in the future.
Here are a few examples.
This is an example of a bad review and we understand that dealing with a review like this can be difficult. Nonetheless, it is important that your response is professional and apologetic. Don't be afraid to reach out directly to the customer to discuss the issue further and offer a solution.
While this one isn't particularly a bad review, it is still important to address the guest's issues such as the outdated bathroom, leaks, and mildew stains. After thanking the reviewer for their feedback, you could apologize for failing to meet their expectations followed by letting the guest know that you are doing the necessary steps to resolve their issues and provide better service moving forward.
Should you still respond to positive reviews?
Crafting a response is not easy, especially if you’re getting tons of reviews on a daily basis. But what if they’re mostly positive? It makes you ask, “Should I still reply to a 5-star review?” The answer is yes. Positive reviews should be acknowledged in the same way as negative ones because they’re just as important.
You can reply to each one individually with a personal note thanking them for their kind words and offering any additional information they may need about your product or service. Writing a review does not take so much time especially if you’re using an AI Review Reply Assistant, plus, it can make all the difference when customers see that you care about them as individuals rather than just another customer. By replying to every review, good and bad, you can keep your reputation as a business in good standing with consumers and of course, with Google.
That said, it is understandable that responding to every review may be time-consuming, but don't fret because we’ve got you covered.
Discover the fastest way to engage with your customers with our AI Review Reply Assistant
You may already have a lot on your plate, so it's understandable if you can't respond to every review you receive. But when your customers don't hear back from you, they're going to assume the worst — that you don't care about them at all.
To help your business manage reviews and increase customer loyalty, we've developed an AI Review Reply Assistant. This tool helps you craft personal and empathetic responses to your customer's reviews on sites such as Booking, Google and Tripadvisor in seconds. Whether it is positive feedback or gut-wrenching negative comment, you can respond to each one with a customized automated response that still shows you care about your customers.
1. To respond to a negative review using MARA, simply copy and paste the negative review on the box below.
2. MARA will then automatically summarize the points in the review and propose sample replies.
3. You can also customize the generated responses and make sure they are tailored to your business. You can type directly on the box or generate a new response altogether by simply clicking "Generate Reply" and MARA will create a brand new response for you.
So, there you have it! MARA can help you respond faster and efficiently to online reviews. With MARA AI Review Reply Assistant, you can focus on more important aspects of your business like service, marketing, and product development. At MARA, we've helped businesses across the world manage their online reputation with ease.
To know more about how our AI Review Reply Assistant does its magic, watch our demo video or read it here.