If you’re a regular on the Wiremo blog, then you already know that online reviews are the bread and butter of the eCommerce industry. With 85% of customers trusting them as much as they trust personal recommendations from friends and family, online reviews can boost your sales more than any other marketing tactic.
But collecting reviews is only the first step of the mix. You also have to respond to online reviews and then use them in your marketing in an effective manner.
Why bother answering if simply collecting reviews and publishing them across channels is still effective?
Glad you asked!
Why Should You Respond to All the Online Reviews You Receive?
The brief answer to this question is: because it will increase brand trust and it will help your business be perceived as reliable. The customers who take the time to write a review expect ongoing communication with you. If your Google My Business profile or your Facebook Reviews section or the reviews on your website look like a deserted no man’s land, why should they even bother to leave reviews?
More importantly, what should the visitors of your profile think about your lack of reaction?
Image via Search Engine People
What would you think about the business that received the reviews above? Are the customers right since no one was able to find a proper response to the reviews or does customer support really don’t care about customers?
Either way, my guess is you won’t be delighted by this attitude or inclined to make a purchase from this company.
Other reasons to respond to online reviews include:
Boost Your Organic Rankings
If it’s something search engines love beyond anything else, it’s user-generated content. When users write about your products, they use keywords that are relevant to your SEO strategy. By responding to reviews, you get a chance to use those keywords again, along with semantic variations that improve your rankings even more.
Plus, every new review reply brings another thing search engines love: fresh, unique content. If you make a habit out of answering in a timely manner to all the reviews, you’ll have a healthy stream of fresh content that’s bound to delight search engine bots.
Review Responses Help You Get More Reviews
A recent study by Harvard Business Review showed that companies who take the time to respond generate 12% more reviews. Remember what we said above about customers expecting ongoing communication with you? This study makes the same point.
If your reviews are left unanswered, your customers might think that there’s no one monitoring that page or profile. So why bother leaving a review?
Review volume is one of the most important characteristics of your online reputation. 40% of customers only look at reviews left in the prior two weeks. A steady stream of reviews won’t just help with SEO, but also with convincing customers who are still on the fence about making the purchase.
Did you know that Wiremo can help you auto-reply to reviews in an instant? It’s super easy to set up and it will save hours of your time, while at the same time improving your online reputation.
Improve Your Rating
At a minimum, you should aim for a 4-star rating (or equivalent, depending on the platform). Of course, a lot of your rating depends on the products you sell and the services you offer.
However, by simply replying to all the reviews you can influence that rating. Review responses increase the average rating by 0.12 stars.
Furthermore, if you tackle bad reviews in a diplomatic manner (we’ll get to the how below), you’ll see more happy customers willing to leave favorable reviews just to help mitigate unwanted effects on one of their favorite businesses.
Solve Problems Faster
Your review responses have the power to defuse dangerous situations and even turn a bad situation into a positive outcome. A customer who leaves a bad review and sees it left unanswered might assume that you don’t monitor that platform. Understandably, their frustration will grow and they will head to other platforms and leave even worse reviews.
Soon, you’ll see all the channels plagued by a terrible review -- and sometimes, even by reviews left by the initial customer’s friends who wanted to pitch into an online scandal (yeah, people love those!). Answering the first review quickly will give them satisfaction early on and prevent them from writing the same thing everywhere.
There are also situations when a bad review is the result of a misunderstanding that can be solved easily. If you get to it quickly enough, you’ll be able to turn the client’s frown upside down and even get them to purchase from you again.
No time to review all the platforms regularly and reply to reviews fast enough? We get it! Wiremo helps you stay on top of your online reputation from a single dashboard. Sign up to cut hours of review management off your already busy schedule!
If you’re already running on Wiremo, you know that review management itself can be a walk in the park. But there’s still one problem left: how exactly do you answer reviews in a way that helps your boost brand trust? And, more importantly, how do you tackle those pesky bad reviews that will show their ugly head sooner or later?
Let’s find out!
How to Respond to Positive Online Reviews
This is a question we hear very often: if the customer leaves a positive review it means they’re already happy with our products or services. Why answer the review?
Aside from the reasons outlined above, here’s another one: because it’s the fastest way to turn a customer into a brand ambassador. A review response shows that you care about the customers, not just about their credit cards.
A personalized response will get people to come back to your business and recommend it to others. It’s a circle that keeps on giving because the foundation of any solid business is made of a steady stream of repeat customers.
Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of a perfect positive review response:
- Acknowledge their effort (say thank you!)
- Use the customer’s name
- Reinforce your brand values
- Mention that you’re expecting them back in your shop
- Mention the company’s full name, especially if the reviewer gets it wrong.
Take it a notch further with:
- Add relevant keywords in your reply
- If a customer mentions a certain product, repeat it in your response
- Mention additional products they (or the readers of your review response) may need
- Make it personal -- sign off with a real name and job title
Here’s a quick template you can use:
Hi [Name] (using the client’s name),
Thank you for taking the time to review our shop (acknowledge their effort). At PhoneStoreX (mention the company name), we always try to source the best products for our savvy customers (reinforce brand values), so we’re stoked that you love our SuperSturdy phone case for Android phones (repeat the name of the product). If you liked this phone case (add relevant keywords), you’ll definitely also love our SuperSafe screen protectors (pitch an additional product), so try them out when you get a chance. We look forward to fulfilling your next order! (mention that you want to see them shopping with you again).
Mike Jones, Customer Success Director (sign off with a real name and job title).
Why is it important to check all these boxes? Because you’re talking to three different audiences:
- First and foremost, the person who left the review. You want to thank them sincerely and make them feel special.
- Potential buyers aka the people who read your review responses. They need to see that you treat your customers well (checked at the point above), that you have cohesive brand values (that’s why you have to reinforce them), and that, in a world full of bots and automation, you’re personable and approachable (that’s why you sign off with a human name and job title).
- Search engine bots and crawlers that look for ranking and relevance signals. That’s why you need to add keywords whenever possible.
Here’s a good example of a review response:
You can see how the answer got all the points above in a short paragraph.
Responding to positive reviews is relatively easy and, most importantly, pleasant. Everyone loves to receive praise, so odds are you’ll be answering positive reviews with a smile on your face.
Answering bad reviews, on the other hand, is completely different. No one likes them, so no one likes to deal with them. Paradoxically, this is why it’s even more important you answer to these than to the positive ones. If your competitors shy away from bad reviews, this is your time to shine.
How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews
Why answer a bad review? You don’t want to keep this ball rolling and attract more attention to it, do you? Well, of course not!
But a response to a bad review that’s properly phrased can help you turn a bad situation into a positive outcome (as discussed above). More importantly, it can actually bring you new customers.
Yes, you’ve read that right! Even a bad review can help you pad your bottom line -- if tackled properly, of course. It looks like customers are 45% more likely to buy from you if you respond to negative reviews. Since I know you don’t want to lose 45% of your review readers to your competitors, let’s see how you can tackle bad reviews like a pro!
Don’t Jump the Gun
Feeling an itch in your fingers and a need to respond to a negative review in equally negative terms? Don’t!
It may bring you personal satisfaction but it won’t bring you any business gains. Instead of jumping the gun, take a second to evaluate the customer’s feedback objectively. If you need to, reach out to the colleagues that were named in the review or to those who handled the order to get to the bottom of the issue.
In times like these, when emotions might get the best of you, it’s essential to have a template you can rely on and build on it on a case-by-case basis. We’ll get to the template shortly.
2. Always Answer Publicly
...even if you also reach out to the customer privately to sort things out. The internet never forgets. Print this and tape it next to your desk if you have to.
If you don’t respond to a negative review publicly, all that the internet is going to remember is that you messed up and didn’t have anything to say about it. It really doesn’t matter who was right and who was wrong.
Don’t hide behind private messages -- you need to let all the readers know your side of the story. So respond publicly and do it as fast as possible.
3. Work Towards a Private Conversation
In your review response, leave contact details and ask the customer to get in touch to solve their complaint. Negative reviews typically take some time to reconcile and you don’t want to do this publicly.
Pro tip: to show that you really care about customer satisfaction, say something along these lines: “can you send us a private message with your order number and contact information? Our manager would like to contact you as soon as possible to remedy this.”
If you look closely, you’ll see that these two phrases speak volumes. By mentioning a manager, you show that everyone in your company takes customer satisfaction seriously. So much so that a manager will take the time to address the customer’s complaint. In subtext, this also reads as: “we get so few complaints that our managers have the time to tackle each of them.”
Very important: if you promise this publicly, make sure you follow up on it. If the customer leaves their contact information, do call them back and try to defuse the situation.
4. Acknowledge Your Mistakes (If Any)
It happens. We all make mistakes. Yes, even the best of us.
It’s hard to acknowledge them. But the worst thing you can do for your business is to sweep them under the rug.
Don’t believe me? Then believe your customers. 85% of Americans are willing to stay with a business that’s transparent about their mistakes.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. We all know that we all make mistakes. But to see someone come forward about them is rare. And we all love people and businesses who go against the grain and dare to tackle difficult issues openly.
So acknowledge your mistakes publicly, not just in your private conversation with the customers. And don’t forget to mention the steps you plan to take to remedy the issue!
5. Ask for Clarifications When Needed
Not all customers will leave detailed reviews. Some just want to get the frustration off their chests so they submit a rating and the minimum number of characters required for the review to be published.
Like this customer:
Image via WhoIsHostingThis
From this negative review, you can’t really tell what kind of issues the customer had with the games. What types of system errors did they receive? If you don’t have the full picture from the negative review, always ask for clarifications. You can do so publicly by asking the customer to send you a private message.
6. Thank You and We’re Sorry
Yes, you still have to thank your customers for leaving a review, even if it’s a bad one. The next step: say you’re sorry about their bad experience.
Do this even if you know for sure you made no mistake. Empathy is important, so don’t preach to your customer about their improper use of your products. Be empathetic to convey the fact that you want all your customers to have a stellar experience.
7. Offer a Solution
No matter how empathetic it is, a review response that doesn’t offer a solution will sound like a wooden-tongue political speech that everyone hates. Your job here is to be helpful.
If you don’t have a solution right away, simply offering to have a manager contact them and provide the solution after they understand the issue better works too.
8. Offer an Incentive
Some customers just need to blow off steam and they will hate your brand no matter what you say. That’s OK because, as we said above, you’re not just talking to them in your response -- you’re also talking to potential customers and to search engine crawlers.
Plus, reviews (especially the negative ones) are an excellent way to get honest feedback about your products or services. By offering an incentive, you gauge the customer’s real purpose: do they want to blow off steam or are they genuinely interested in solving a genuine problem?
You don’t have to overcompensate, so there’s no need for a huge incentive. A 5% discount on the next order, a free replacement of a faulty product, or free shipping on the next order are all viable options.
This will allow you to test the customer’s lifetime value. If they constantly leave bad reviews without spending too much money in your shop, then their business may actually cost you money. Their willingness to use your incentive will speak volumes about their fit to your brand.
9. Use Your Real Name to Sign Off
Again, you want to make this personable and approachable. By signing with a human name, you take the acknowledgment of your mistakes to the next level.
You show the unhappy customer and the readers of your review response that you don’t hide behind your keyboard and a brand name.
10. Ask the Customer to Update Their Review
Did you manage to appease the angry customer? Did you come up with a solution that fixed their problem? Congratulations! You are an online reputation wizard!
Let’s see that reflected in your reviews. Ask the customer to update their review based on their most recent interaction with you. Tell them that your online reputation is important to you and that you’d really like their help. You may not get a 5-star review, but even a 4-star one is better than a 1-star rating, right?
Better yet, we’ve got the solution to make your reputation skills shine even brighter: with Wiremo, you simply need to push a button (“Ask to update review”), which will send an email to the customer asking them to do just that. When they update it, the old review will be shown under the old one so everyone can see that you can solve issues whenever they appear!
This business pulled it off:
Image via Vendasta
OK, now that we’ve covered the basics of responding to negative reviews, let’s check out some templates for these answers.
Negative reviews come in two types:
- Purely negative reviews (1-2 stars)
- Mixed reviews (2-4 stars)
The answers you can give are pretty similar, but they do have a few key differences.
Purely Negative Review Response Template
Dear [NAME] (use client’s name),
Thank you for taking the time to write this review (thank them for leaving a review). We’re sorry for your bad experience (empathize with the customer). We can assure you that all our products pass rigorous quality testing but sometimes errors happen (reinforce brand values). Most of our customers rave about SuperStrong phone case and we’re not quite certain how yours could have broken so easily.
Can you please send us a private message with your contact information and more details about how the case malfunctioned (ask for additional details)? Our manager would like to contact you personally and get to the bottom of this (reinforce your commitment to fixing the issue).
In the meantime, we’d like to send you a replacement for your faulty product -- all complimentary, of course (offer an incentive).
Mike Jones, Customer Success Director (sign off with a real name and job title).
Mixed Review Response Template
Dear [NAME] (use client’s name),
Thank you for taking the time to write this review (thank them for leaving a review). We’re sorry for your bad experience (empathize with the customer). At the same time, we’re stoked you loved our SuperStrong phone case! At PhoneStoreX, we want to make sure that we offer quality products at affordable prices and with speedy delivery.
We understand that the delay in your delivery was inconvenient and we apologize for that (apologize and acknowledge your mistake). We’ve reviewed our shopping process and discussed this issue with our delivery partner to ensure this never happens again (offer a solution/fix).
In the meantime, we’d like to offer you free shipping for your next order to test out our improved delivery services. What do you say? (offer an incentive)
Mike Jones, Customer Success Director (sign off with a real name and job title).
Check out Rick, a business owner, who takes personalization and proactiveness in his review response to the next level. Even though they did not make a mistake, he’s still trying to make amends in the best way possible:
How to Respond to Online Reviews -- Final Thoughts
The templates and examples above are designed to give you an idea about where to start in creating your own review answer template. Use them and make them your own by adding your brand voice and your creative voice to them.
A seamless brand voice across channels is what today’s customers expect. Whether they reach out to you on a social media platform or on your own website, they expect to have the same experience and the same tone of voice.
We know that it can be hard to stay on top of all the reviews you get (we do hope that you get A LOT of them!) if you work with a small team or to maintain the same brand voice if you work with a large customer support team.
Wiremo can make everything easier when it comes to online reputation management, irrespective of the size of your team. Our platform is powered by artificial intelligence so it can help you:
- Quickly identify good and bad reviews across platforms
- Respond to online reviews in a unitary manner, on several platforms, from a single dashboard
- Use canned responses that are easy to personalize for each customer
- Publish reviews, offer incentives, and more.