In today’s marketplace, online reviews are one of the most crucial components of operating a successful business. According to a survey performed by BrightLocal, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchasing decisions.
It’s not necessarily a question of having a perfect five-star rating either. In fact, only 12% of consumers responding to that same BrightLocal survey stated they wouldn’t use a business with fewer than five stars, and nearly half indicated they would 48% of consumers even consider using a business with fewer than four stars. So, you have a bit of wiggle room.
A key differentiator in giving your business a competitive edge is making sure you respond to customer reviews, both negative and positive. Surprisingly, 75% of businesses don’t even respond to reviews at all, so any business that makes an effort to reply is automatically ahead of the game. Additionally, businesses that respond to at least 25% of their online reviews earn an average of 35% more revenue than those that do not.
Asking Customers to Submit their Reviews
It’s crucial for you to have a formal process for asking customers to share their feedback after a transaction is complete. Otherwise, the few reviews you do receive will be from upset customers.
Encourage everyone to submit a review, that way you garner a wide range of sentiments. It’ll further assure potential customers that the reviews are real since too many perfect five-star reviews are a potential red flag. Customers want authenticity.
Whether you choose to send a follow-up message using email or SMS, make sure it’s promptly after the service. Keep the messaging short without sacrificing warmth or sincerity and encourage details. If you’re able to purchase a service to help you collect more reviews, it’ll automate the process for you and send friendly reminders.
Did you know? BBB Accredited Businesses have exclusive access to the “Submit a Review” seal that’s available to embed in their website. The link will take customers to your business profile on BBB.org for easy reviewing. Log in to your Accredited Business portal to access your seal!
How to Respond to Online Reviews
Negative reviews are a natural part of doing business, so don’t be afraid when one is directed at your company. Critical reviews give you a chance to publicly right a customer service wrong. No business is perfect. Negative feedback is an invitation to prove your business prioritizes its customers, even when circumstances are less than ideal.
Don’t forget to respond to your positive reviews as well. Generate feel-good moments for you and the reviewer – you’ll gain a loyal customer in the process.
Assign one person on your staff to monitor and respond to all reviews posted. Not only will you have someone ready to respond, but your messaging will also be consistent.
Better Business Bureau suggests business owners follow these tips when responding to customer reviews of their operation:
- Thank the customer for sharing their opinion while specifically addressing their topic of concern.
- Be friendly, helpful, and energetic. Offer an initial resolution and then show a sense of urgency in helping reach a speedy conclusion.
- Stick to facts and data, not people, personalities, and emotions. Maintain a high level of professionalism, respect, and decorum, while being friendly in tone.
- Set an expectation for the next steps the reviewer can prepare for, including any needed follow-up. Always leave the response open-ended to allow for any additional action.
- Take it offline when necessary. Some customers will want to argue and have the exchange displayed for everyone to see. In those instances, provide direct contact information for the customer to follow up.
The things you need to stay away from:
- Quoting policy or practice. This is risky because you are setting yourself up for further ridicule. Explaining why you do something is a much better approach.
- Using canned responses that are not specific to the concern addressed. Other users will read responses every time they read reviews. If they see responses that aren’t addressing the specific situation, they will expect the same. Nobody wants a one-size-fits-all solution.
- Rambling communication. Reviewers are frustrated as it is, and any long response will feel clouded. This also leaves an opportunity for the reviewer to distort the overall reply. Show empathy, stick to facts and keep responses simple.
The Value and Differentiating Factor of BBB Reviews
When BBB receives a customer review for your business, we have several safeguards in place to ensure the review is valid. To this day, fake reviews are still a major issue that affects consumers’ buying decisions.
But don’t take our word for it, here’s what SearchEngineLand has to say about the distinct value of BBB reviews.
“Unlike many review sites, including Google, they take the validity of reviews seriously. I do extensive manual monitoring of the data on the BBB and have found they are one of the most reliable sources of local business data on the internet. Like Google, the BBB also doesn’t accept listings using virtual offices or P.O. boxes and aims to represent the “real world”
BBB's review process is unique; all reviews submitted through BBB.org are fully vetted by BBB staff to ensure an actual interaction took place between the business and consumer. We do this by ensuring the following:
- The reviewer must provide an email, click to verify and complete a customer review submission process.
- The reviewer must certify, by actively checking a box, that the review is truthful and accurate.
- IPs are tracked and monitored and can be blacklisted if necessary.
- Businesses can challenge the review if they believe there was no interaction with the reviewer. BBB will reach back out to the reviewer and request substantiation of the marketplace interaction.
- If a consumer files a complaint with the same email address about the same issue, the customer review is suspended. Consumers cannot submit both a complaint and a negative customer review.
These vetting procedures are unique to BBB, and both businesses and consumers experience an elevated level of protection when they communicate their experiences through our customer review program.
For more information on managing online reviews of your business, visit trust-bbb.org.