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Responding to Online Reviews – the Which, Why and How Every Business Needs to Know

Alina Wojslaw
Published by
Alina Wojslaw
Read Article

Responding to Online Reviews – the Which, Why and How Every Business Needs to Know

Alina Wojslaw
Published by
Alina Wojslaw

Collecting reviews from shoppers has already become a market standard and while it still sets you apart from many of your competitors, there is a way to make a step even further. Responding to reviews is your chance to show appreciation for feedback, cherish positive comments, and make amends if something goes wrong. In this article, we’re going to tackle which reviews you should respond to, why you need to do it, and how you should go about it so next time a customer shares their insight, you’ll know exactly what to do. Read on to find out more.

Why Respond to Reviews – What Research Says…

We’ll let the numbers do the talking first. Here are 3 research-backed reasons you need to respond to reviews:

1) Reviews get views

That’s right – positive or negative, your reviews are getting read. So, when 89% of customers read your review responses, it highlights why you need to know how to respond to reviews effectively.

2) Not acknowledging reviews boosts customer churn

It’s true. Something as simple as neglecting to respond to customer reviews can increase customer churn by up to 15%.  

When winning new customers is 5x more expensive than keeping old ones, reducing customer churn is a real no-brainer.  

3) Your customers expect it - and expect it fast.  

Not convinced yet? Research shows that responding to reviews is a ticking time bomb that you need to diffuse ASAP. Not only do customers expect a response to a review, 21% want to hear from you within 24 hours of them posting it, with 24% expecting contact within 72 hours.

Combined with the 52% who expect a response within a week, and you’re left with a crazy 98% of your reviewers expecting prompt communication from you.  

Responding to customer reviews is crucial, and to make the most of them, we recommend slicing out a segment of your time each day to dedicate to getting it done.  

Which reviews should you respond to?  

Your schedule is going to hate us for saying this but if you want to get the most out of your online interactions with buyers, respond to all of your reviews.  

Not many stores do this, so something as simple as a quick reply can be a really great way to set yourselves apart from the competition.  

Whilst browsing your store, if a potential customer sees that you actively engage with past buyers, they’ll be that much more trusting that their order will go smoothly and that they can rely on you before, during and after the purchase. This could work wonders for your conversion rates.  

If you are pushed for time but still burning to interact with at least some of your reviewers, here are 3 types of reviews you should pay special attention to:

Positive reviews that took effort  

The average market response rate is 0.5-3%. Even with a 22% response rate our software provides, getting wholesome feedback from a customer is tough. This is why if a customer has gone to the trouble of producing a lengthy write-up of your product/service, you should show your appreciation with a public response.

It can, but doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Something simple and honest will get the job done.

Reviews that contain a question

Some customers tend to ask questions in their reviews instead of reaching out to your customer service or use Q&A functionality.

First of all, if expectations regarding responses to reviews are already high, you can assume that a question mark makes them double.

Second of all, it’s a selling or upselling opportunity since many questions refer to either add-ons to the product the customer has just purchased or features of the product they’re considering to purchase.

You may get questions in reviews or via a Q&A feature. Regardless of where they’re posted, questions deserve answers, and they also give you a golden opportunity to build customer relationships and showcase your product’s key features.

Negative reviews

Let’s be honest - you could be the inventor of the wheel, and there will still be someone out there who won’t like your product or service. Negative reviews are an inevitable occurrence in the ecommerce world.  

So, if you only have time to reply to a limited number of reviews, the negative ones shold be your focus. It might be easier to push them under the rug and try to bury them with more positive reviews but behind that 1* rating is an unhappy customer who’s sharing their bad experience with you - treat it as a cry for help and a chance for you to make up for what went wrong.  

Don’t let that single-star rating get you down. Here’s what to do instead:  

a) Learn from it. Whilst positive reviews teach you what customers like about your products negative reviews give you an invaluable insight into ways you can improve.

b) Realise that they’re not definite. Respond to the review as soon as you see it and try your best to resolve the situation. If you are genuine in your attempts to make amends and honest in your apologies, your efforts will be greatly appreciated and your chances for winning the customer back are higher than you think.

How to Respond to Reviews – Our Templates

If you’re taking customer feedback seriously and respectfully, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, the last thing you want to do is put off customers with a half-baked response.  

The positive review response

As mentioned, it’s best to respond to any and all reviews if you can find the time, and this is especially true for customers who’ve gone the extra mile.  

General Rules for Responding to Positive Reviews

1) Greet them with their first name

Research shows that everyone’s favourite word is their first name, so incorporate it into your response to instantly grab the reviewer’s attention.  

2) Use the opportunity to boast about your products a little

Since other potential customers read your responses, this is a great chance for subtle self-promotion.

3) Show their feedback makes a difference  

If the review mentions a particular team member, or specific aspect of your product, mention that their feedback will be passed on.  

4) Express gratitude in the close

End your review by thanking your customer again for taking the time to leave a review.  

Here’s an example of how it’d look altogether:

“Hey John, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review. Our tea-tree shower gel is one of our most popular products, so we’re glad to hear you’re enjoying it. I’ll be sure to pass your feedback on and make sure it reaches the right people. Again, thanks for your feedback and enjoy your purchase!"

The “asked a question” response  

If your customer asks a question, you need to get back to them. If you don’t, the reviewer could be left feeling neglected, and if other customers notice, it could discourage them from asking any questions of their own.

General rules for question-based reviews:

1) Address the reviewer by their name
2) Thank them for their review
3) Answer the question and seize the opportunity for self-promotion
4) Thank again, show willingness to help further and leave direct contact info

Here’s an example of how it’d look altogether:

“Hey Mandy, thanks for taking the time to leave a review! In response to your question of whether our shampoo contains synthetic fragrance, I can confirm that it is 100% natural. We only use the highest-quality essential oils to ensure customers like you get the most possible benefit and don’t have to worry about nasty synthetics. Again, thanks for your review, and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out at contact@webshop.com!”

The negative review response  

Nobody likes confrontation, but in the case of reviews, confrontation is gold - literally and figuratively. So, if you’ve received a negative review, reply with a quick, thorough and apologetic response and there’s a 34% chance your customer will remove it.

General rules for responding to negative reviews:

1) Address the reviewer by their name  
2) Apologise, acknowledge their issue and empathise
3) Promote company USPs
4) Offer to make it right
5) Tell them you reached out privately or invite them to do so
6) Close with an apology  

Here’s how it looks altogether:  

“Hi Brian, thanks for taking the time to leave a review, and we’re sorry to hear you faced such delays with receiving your product – we work hard to ensure next-day delivery is achieved and the service you received certainly isn’t to the standard we strive to maintain so we understand your frustration. We’d love the chance to make this right, so we’ve reached out to you personally by email. Thank you for your business and again, apologies for the issues you’ve experienced.”

If the customer doesn’t completely delete their review after seeing your response, there’s a 33% that they’ll change it to a positive one, and even an 18% chance that you’ll win them over and convert them into loyal repeat-buyers.  

Some of our customers actually report a 40-50% success in converting the negative reviews into happy customers after following them up with a genuine will to solve their problem - so let the public reply be the first step to an actual conversation with the customer. Once satisfied, your customer will be more than willing to update their feedback - make sure to ask them to!  

Find the Time to Manage Your Reviews - It’s Worth it.

It’s not just reviews that influence customer perception of your brand – your responses to those reviews can also have a big impact. So, carve out some time in your schedule, arm yourself with our templates, and start showing customers that their feedback is valued and actually inspires your actions.

Alina Wojslaw
Customer Success Manager