How important are online reviews? According to a survey from BrightLocal, about 86% of consumers read reviews for businesses and 89% read business’ responses to online reviews. When you break it down even further, findings showed that people aged 18-34 are the group most likely to read online reviews (85%), write online reviews (80%), and trust online reviews (91%). It’s best practice to respond to reviews, no matter what the tone of the review is. After all, you can’t delete online reviews, so a response, in most cases, is best.
Our advice? Don’t feel attacked or frustrated when receiving a negative critique, though it’s easy to do so. When responding, keep the tone friendly and be understanding. Use the person’s name and let him/her know that you have addressed or would like to address the issue. When discussing this with our clients, we recommend putting together a strategy in advance by putting together a list of items that could be mentioned frequently in reviews such as billing issues, complaints about staff, coverage issues, customer service, or appointment wait times. Reach out to your customer service team for more suggestions. After all, they’re on the front lines each day and will have a “leg up” on what consumer pain points are. Have an appropriate response planned for each concern. And of course, not all reviews are bad. Thank consumers for positive reviews, too!
What can you gain by responding to online reviews? It’s a chance to connect with consumers, make your brand more personal, and if the review is negative, maybe it will give you a second chance with that consumer. Another bonus? Responding to online reviews helps with local SEO. According to an article in Search Engine Journal, Google My Business tells business to manage and respond to reviews, also adding that “Google isn’t hiding the fact that reviews contribute to local search rankings so it’s safe to assume the same holds for the websites of larger businesses.”