Reviews have become one of the most important factors in consumer purchasing decisions.

A whopping 98 percent of consumers believe that online reviews are an essential resource when making a purchasing decision. An even more incredible stat is that 91 percent of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much or more than the personal suggestions made by close friends and family members.

Because the average consumer reads ten reviews before making a purchasing decision, you should make an effort to bolster the power of online reviews.

A key part of this effort should be focused on how to respond to and manage online store reviews.

Why it’s important to respond to customer reviews

It’s essential to respond to online customer reviews — both positive and negative.

One of the most commonly asked questions we get at BJC Digital Marketing is about the impact of responding to customer reviews on local search engine optimization (SEO). When 98 percent of consumers say online reviews are an essential resource for the buying decision, the answer is simple: managing online store reviews by responding to customers should be an integral part of your online marketing program.

How Google views customer reviews

If you’re looking for proof that managing online store reviews is important, check out the Google Business Profile support page, which details how to improve your local ranking and includes a section on managing and responding to reviews. 

The leading search engine suggests that you should respond to reviews to show that you value your customers and their feedback. According to Google’s guide, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”

Responding to reviews builds trust one-on-one

Responding to online reviews, especially when the reviews appear on Google, helps you build trust with customers. It shows that you care enough about how customers feel to take time out of your day to personally address concerns and express gratitude for positive support.

Regardless of whether a review is positive or negative, responding to it demonstrates a strong commitment to delivering superior customer service. It’s also worth noting that 71% of consumers expect a business owner or representative to respond to their reviews.

You spend considerable time and money attracting more customers. Close the deal by spending time responding to online reviews.

Here’s more evidence for investing time in managing online store reviews: Statistics show more than 40% of consumers say they are more likely to visit businesses that respond to negative reviews. And, when customers receive a response from a business operator after posting a negative review, 33 percent of them posted a positive review, and 34 percent of the negative reviewers deleted the original poor review.

How to respond to online customer reviews

Managing online store reviews is something customers have come to expect. In fact, 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. Plus, responding to reviews can have a real impact on your success: 45 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.

By now you understand the need for responding to customer reviews posted online. Now, let’s talk about how to reach out and respond.

The 3 Ps of managing online customer reviews

How should you respond to online reviews? In our guide on customer reviews, we talk about three Ps that form the basis of the process: Prompt, professional, and positive.

  • Prompt means responding within one to two business days
  • Professional means writing a well-thought-out response that uses correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Positive means remaining upbeat

If you think about it, the three Ps of responding to online customer reviews look a lot like the steps you implement for responding to face-to-face feedback. You make sure you promptly interact with the customer in a professional manner. And, above all, you turn negative feedback into a positive customer experience by maintaining your composure and remaining upbeat in both your tone and message.

Example of a response to a positive review

Responding to positive reviews is easy. You want to say thank you to the people that take the time to give glowing praise to your business. After you thank a customer for a review, encourage them to revisit your store. Use specific language to keep your response short, yet highly effective. Don’t forget to mention your business name, but make sure not to overuse it, which has a negative impact on Google.

Here’s an example of how to respond to a positive review:

“Hi (FirstName), thanks so much for taking the time to write a review about your account manager, Jake — we think he’s pretty amazing, too. The (Company Name) team is happy to hear that you enjoyed building your new website with us. When you’re ready to [try a new product OR add something to your existing product OR check out our latest service], call us, and we can get you going.”

Example of a response to a negative review

Managing negative reviews online requires a subtle touch that builds trust with customers. 

First, acknowledge and apologize for whatever issue the customer has, as well as thank the customer for choosing your business and sharing their feedback. Ask what your business can do to make the negative experience into a positive one. Offer to speak directly with the reviewer. Focus on presenting the strengths of your business, and offer a second apology at the end of your response. Be clear and concise.

Here is an example of how to respond to a negative review:

“Hi (First Name), we are sorry to hear about your experience, and we really appreciate you sharing your feedback with us. We consider our customers as part of the family, and we are sorry we missed the mark when you last joined us. My name is (First Name), and I am the (Your Position.) I’d be happy to speak to you personally to try and make things right. Please contact me at (company phone number or email address).”

The bottom line — managing reviews grows customers

You never want customers to leave your business dissatisfied with the inferior quality of a product or a service. Before the Internet, most customers did not display their dissatisfaction with a business. They simply walked out the door never to return. Now, you can bring dissatisfied customers back through the door by responding to negative reviews. Moreover, by responding to online reviews, you can build a growing base of loyal customers that drives sales.

It’s time to learn more about how to build customer relationships.