What makes your business stand out from the competition? Maybe it’s your superior customer service, your excellent product or your commitment to giving back. Or maybe it’s all three! You’re doing everything right and advertising like crazy... So why aren’t you number one?
Ads applauding your own superiority are fine, but your target audience is a little more savvy than you think. That’s why online reviews and your review responses are one of the greatest influences on consumers. Customers spend up to 49% more at businesses that reply to reviews. And since 75% of businesses don’t respond to reviews, the opportunity to grow your business by responding to positive reviews is yours for the taking.
Of course, since you can’t control what people say about your business on the internet, the prospect of that type of exposure might be frightening. You think you provided a 5-star experience only to discover the customer has posted a scathing review you may not know how to handle.
But the benefit of online reviews far outweighs the cons—especially when you learn how to navigate reviews and start replying to positive reviews.
Why you need good reviews
If you’re still wondering if your customers are looking for you online, stop! They are. And 27% of them are bypassing your website and going straight to searching for your reviews.
You need to care about good reviews because your customers care. Half of customers won’t patronize a business with less than four stars in a five-star rating system. A 3.9 star rating isn’t going to cut it when you’re up against another business with a 4.5. And while the general rule is don’t believe anything you read on the internet, customers do believe reviews. Four out of five people consider online reviews just as trustworthy as referrals from people they know. Online reviews are so trusted that 66% of Americans will believe an anonymous review more than a recommendation from an ex-partner.
Asking for reviews
To fully take advantage of the power of online reviews, you have to ask for them. Most customers who’ve had a good experience with your business are happy to take the time to write a review. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed by BrightLocal in 2020 said they had been asked to write a review, and 72% of those asked followed through on writing the review. Asking for a review might feel uncomfortable, but it’s effective.
Thanks for the positive feedback
Now you know why you need good reviews and that you have to ask for them. The last step in managing your online reviews is responding. Replying to positive reviews is almost as important as the review itself—and the key to beating your competitors. Even increasing your reply rate from 12% to 32% can result in 80% higher conversion rates in local search than your direct competitors. (For more on why you should respond to good reviews, click here.)
There are five components you should include when considering how to respond to positive reviews.
#1: Thank you for your lovely review
Regardless of whether their review is good or bad, start replying to positive reviews by expressing gratitude. Thank the customer for taking the time to write and for providing you with valuable information about your business. Remain gracious throughout your response.
#2: Keep yourself engaged
Understand all the variables, problems and players. Don’t go off topic. Remain aware of the customer’s problems, concerns and position. Staying focused on what they’ve said ensures your response is relevant and effective.
#3: Express empathy
Connect with the customer by letting them know you understand how they’re feeling and why. Empathy is a powerful marketing tool. Give your response a human touch by referring to them by name or adding some other personal aspect to your response. Let your customer know you see them as a person, not just a receipt.
#4: State your plan
Create a plan to move forward. If the review was positive, invite the customer back. If it was negative, detail how you’re going to rectify the situation to ensure it never happens again to them or anyone.
#5: Level up
Your response doesn’t have to be the end of your interaction. Encourage the customer to introduce themselves the next time they come into the business. You’ll have the opportunity to thank them in person and impress the customer even further. If the review was negative, show your willingness to hold yourself accountable by providing your full name and contact information. You’re signaling you’ll stand by your word.
Online reviews are a great marketing tool when you know how to navigate reviews and review responses.