You nurtured a lead, you closed a sale, and you facilitated a transaction with the follow-up to generate a customer review for your business. Now what?
Your customer’s experience doesn’t need to end at their first receipt. Now is the time to treat the review, whether positive or negative, as valuable feedback. And if you’d like to create social proof and nurture a continuing relationship with the reviewer, you should also consider whether to respond.
This guide will walk you through the power of responding to reviews, detail examples of how other companies are leveraging their chance to respond, and teach you best practices for responding to different types of reviews.
|The power of responding to reviews|
|Best practices for responding to reviews|
|How to respond to positive reviews|
|How to respond to negative reviews|
|How to respond to neutral and mixed reviews|
|How to dispute fake reviews|
|How to request a rescore in your response|
Most businesses have some inkling that responding to customer reviews is important. The data confirms that this is more than suspicion:
Know that responding to reviews is an essential strategy for customer retention and support.
Some general principles apply to all reviews, and you'll want to figure out your strategy before responding to individual comments.
You can start by learning from other companies’ responses. Thirty percent of Best Company reviews have a response — a figure over 80,000.
That’s because many businesses on Best Company take their reviews seriously. Here are some of the strategies they use to respond to customers.
For large businesses swamped with reviews, canned responses make sense.
Still, three-fourths of the company responses we sampled preferred to keep the message organic:
The messages we considered canned were copy/paste responses with a low level of customization, such as swapping a couple words or adding a name. If the responder wrote unique sentences for each response, we considered those messages organic, though such responses can be loosely templatized.
Whether you can a response or not, make sure your customer feels seen with your response. There’s nothing more cringeworthy than a canned response opening with “dear valued customer.”
As you can see from the graph, most companies believe customization pays. We agree. Save canned responses for vague feedback or instances where you’re overwhelmed with reviews.
Not every review needs a CTA, particularly if you’re proactively handling the issue. But if you aren’t offering customers a chance to act on their review, they may feel unheard or powerless. For this reason, 42 percent of the reviews we randomly sampled had a CTA within them.
CTAs are most common in negative reviews. Because it’s sometimes difficult to identify the reviewer and reach out privately through their account, companies will respond and request that a reviewer calls or DMs them.
CTAs in positive reviews can come off as salesy, so if you include a call to action in a positive review, make sure it’s not upselling a product or service. But CTAs can have their place in a positive review, reminding the happy customer that you’re there for them.
Regardless of whether a review is positive or negative, consider including a CTA to invite customers to continue their relationship with your business.
Naturally, companies want to apprise negative reviewers of a resolution: 72 percent of responses to negative reviews detail what the company is doing to respond to the reviewer’s concerns.
As we detail best practices for responding to negative reviews, keep this in mind. Reviewers like to know how their case is being handled.
While this is more difficult to track with data, a common trend for many companies is balancing their public and private responses.
Since reviews are posted publicly, it makes sense to respond publicly so review readers know you’re handling customer issues and are committed to supporting customers.
However, sometimes you may want a dual private and public response approach. To avoid a long-winded response to a negative review or to prevent things from getting messy with a complaint, you may reach out privately to an angry customer to resolve their issue while still posting publicly so review readers can see that you’ve contacted the writer.
Whether you’re capable of responding both privately and publicly will depend on the review platform. Best Company allows both.
It’s clear when companies have an employee dedicated to review response or a policy outlining how to write a response; these practices create a consistent brand voice. Businesses that have review policies appear more professional.
Create an action plan detailing who will respond to reviews, your goals for review response, which channels are appropriate for escalating a review’s feedback, and when it is appropriate to respond to a review.
If necessary, draft response templates or gather examples for responding to reviews. This will allow the task to be passed off easily.
This answer varies by business.
Remember that nearly a third of reviews on Best Company have a response. Some companies don’t respond to reviews at all, while others respond to each one within a few days of the review posting.
Your organization will have its own goals. Settle on a realistic response rate for your workload and decide whether to prioritize responding to every review or only the most urgent reviews.
Most experts agree that the more responses you can make, and the more timely they are, the better.
Responding to a positive review should be as easy as a quick “thank you,” right?
Not exactly. While responding can be that simple, positive reviews have more opportunity to retain a customer and leave an impression.
When we sampled reviews on Best Company, we found over 70 percent were positive. It’s important to learn how to respond to a happy customer, because there’s a good chance they make up the bulk of your reviews.
Here’s what can help you respond to a positive review:
You don’t need to use every tip. Pick the ones that make the most sense for your company. For example, maybe you don’t include a CTA when you’re responding to a positive experience with one of your employees.
Let’s see some examples of how companies synthesize the best practices in their responses.
This review response follows best practices by thanking the reviewer, reinforcing his personal, positive experience, and including a CTA to phone customer support if he needs anything.
This business includes a similar CTA in most positive reviews, but ensures its reviews are organic enough that each reviewer feels personally validated.
Here, the company receives praise for a specific employee and handles it well, acknowledging the employee and thanking the customer for their review.
This business keeps its response to positive feedback simple. This type of response is particularly helpful if you receive an overwhelming number of reviews but want to keep in touch with your customers.
While responding to positive feedback is important, addressing your complaints is even more crucial. If you’re pressed for time and can only handle one type of review, ensure the unhappy customer and review readers that you’re handling the situation.
Responding to a negative review doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these principles to create a plan of action:
This company handles a bad review by first apologizing, then proactively reaching out with a private response, including a CTA for the reviewer to DM them back. This dual private-and-public approach lets us as readers see that the company is not ignoring its customer while connecting one-on-one with the reviewer.
This negative review response includes a CTA for more information to help identify the reviewer. Despite not having the full details, the business account still expresses sympathy and offers an apology.
The middle ground is where some of your most valuable feedback hides. Future customers value neutral reviews highly for their information, which usually includes detailed pros and cons with a more leveled viewpoint. You should value them, too.
Here’s how you can respond to impress potential clients and the reviewer.
The company addresses the client’s concerns and praise in the same order they’re written. First, they apologize for the bad experience and express sympathy. Then, they highlight the turnaround leading to the positive experience. Finally, the business closes with a CTA to call so they can understand more.
This response doesn’t shy away from what may be an awkward phone call: the customer feedback is important.
Here, it’s clear the business made an effort to improve the customer’s bad experience. But the only reason that’s apparent is because the business mentions the rescore in their response. This review response will impress readers who now know that the company prioritizes customer satisfaction.
If you want to learn more about how to request a rescore when following up with a review, jump to the rescore section.
Remember, we encouraged review responders to not make excuses in the “What Not to Do” section. This response is an example of a simple explanation that makes no excuses for itself. The response includes an apology, gratitude for the feedback, and reminder to reach out if the customer needs anything else.
Though likely the rarest type of review, a fake review can happen. Fake reviews come from angry customers or competitors, and it’s important to learn how to spot them and respond.
Businesses have recourse if they’re targeted by false reviews. On Best Company, our moderators check each review before it goes live to filter out duplicates or fakes. Other platforms have less moderation, and more fake reviews can slip through the cracks. However, most platforms have a dispute process.
Below are a few best practices for disputing reviews.
What if all your critical reviews held some opportunity? This is how businesses need to view a healthy dose of negative feedback.
Some bad reviews have information about your growth opportunities. Other bad reviews simply inform readers your profile is unbiased and contains both positive and negative viewpoints.
And lastly, some negative reviews are an opportunity to improve the customer’s experience and change their mind.
So how do you request a rescore in a review response? It’s a delicate situation.
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