How to Manage Online Customer Reviews?

31 August 2022

People are usually wary before buying a product or engaging in service for the first time. They want to make sure their money is well spent. One of the best ways people can get an accurate representation of whether they are about to spend their money effectively is through reviews. In the digital age, search engines such as Google have introduced a review feature so consumers can find an accurate library of past user experiences and how the business has responded. Whilst Google reviews provide a dedicated feedback location; social media comments, direct messages, emails, and blogs are other avenues for reviews. The importance of managing all of these platforms cannot be overstated. Therefore, many businesses hire a digital marketing agency to manage accounts, reputation management and other SEO services.

Why respond to online reviews?

Strong customer interaction and service are a cornerstone of any B2C or even B2B business. This is the same with company interactions online. It is important that your business conveys a good impression when responding to users online – whether that is friendly, professional, attentive etc. Responding to feedback and reviews is essential for your business to develop relationships with your customers, enticing new customers, but also, incentivising old customers to return. It also provides an opportunity to apologise to a customer if they provide poor feedback or a low-rated review, giving you a chance to potentially win them over, which has been successfully done many times.

So, why are online reviews so important? Recent data suggests that in 2021, ‘77% [of online customers] always or regularly [refer to reviews] when browsing local businesses’ This is an increase from 2020. Only 3% of people ‘would consider using a business with an average star rating of <2.’ Clearly, people place a lot of trust in the accuracy of online reviews and believe them as an accurate gauge of business performance. Another trend to consider is the increasing use of Google as a source of review metrics. 81% of people surveyed used google to search for business reviews in 2021, compared to 63% in 2020. Other platforms customers utilise include Yelp, Amazon, and Facebook. Some industries have dedicated sector review platforms such as Trustpilot, Zomato or TripAdvisor.

When to respond to reviews?

Should you respond to user reviews left on your social media or ‘google my business page’? The answer for any small or local business is yes. Even the negative ones. Businesses with large social media followings may not have time to trawl through every social media comment and respond. However, it is worth responding to some occasionally to show interaction with your audience and customer base. If you don’t have time to complete this task, consider outsourcing a digital agency to manage your SEO campaigns and social media accounts.

Responding to reviews can help build stronger relationships with your customers, even if it is a simple acknowledgement and expression of gratitude for the reviewer taking the time to support your business. Recent study data suggests that 57% of users surveyed would be ‘not very/ not at all likely’ to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews. Whilst 89% of users surveyed would be ‘fairly/highly likely’ to use a business that responds to all reviews. Positive and negative. This is a significant builder of trust in your business and will convey care and compassion to your potential customers.

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Google Reviews and SEO services.

Did you know that responding to Google Reviews can improve your Google SEO rating? Because of this, review management is an SEO service that many businesses should take into consideration. Google has admitted that legitimate positive reviews for your business can help boost its local ranking, whilst responding to reviews helps the algorithm determine that your business is active and engaging.

Should I respond to negative reviews?

The answer is also yes. Businesses experience a 16% boost in customer advocacy by answering complaints, whilst those that ignore complaints experience a 37% decline. This is an opportunity to quash customers’ concerns and appear professional and in control. Negative reviews can sometimes be a good occurrence as well. According to a study by Reevoo, if your business has a star rating that is very high >4.5, users begin to suspect malpractice has occurred – fake reviews are being introduced or negative reviews are being censored. Negative reviews also provide an opportunity for constructive feedback and an opportunity to improve the customer experience in the future. Acknowledging the criticisms as a point of improvement can generate a greatly improved customer experience.

How should you respond to negative reviews?

When responding to negative online reviews or criticism, it is important not to let it turn into an argument or get heated. It is important to acknowledge the complaint and the reviewer’s feelings. Respond quickly and offer solutions to rectify the situation if required. Whatever prompted a bad review may require an explanation, feel free to provide it if you believe it is justified. Taking responsibility for any mistakes, miscommunications or poor service that has occurred will make your business appear professional and reliable, and hopefully regain customer trust. It may be worth organising a template for how to respond to customers in different generic scenarios to help streamline the process when an issue arises.

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Why hire a digital marketing agency?

If you don’t have time to respond to all your reviews and social media comments, what should you do? This is where a digital agency comes in. Most reviews don’t require a contextualised response, meaning the responses can be outsourced whilst you focus on running the business. However, when negative reviews require a contextualised response, you can liaise with staff at a Melbourne digital agency to decide what is the most appropriate response for your business. A gamble many large companies take when they become too big to manage their social media accounts is to outsource to a ‘chatbot’ or ‘reply bot.’ This can be detrimental as the responses can seem impersonal, inhuman or miss the mark. There have been many PR disasters online that have occurred when a ‘reply bot’ has not understood the nuance of the comment, due to sarcasm, irony, or programming misunderstanding. They are also easy targets for online trolling, which can undermine business professionalism. Having a human consultant from a digital marketing agency provides some security for an appropriate response.

Stay competitive with a dedicated Melbourne digital marketing agency.

AWD Digital is a Melbourne web and digital marketing agency with SEO, design, digital marketing, and branding experience. Our agency’s holistic approach combines the attributes of many other agencies into one. You can trust our experienced team to manage your social media accounts, and provide SEO services and consultation for Google Reviews. Optimise your digital presence with a digital marketing strategy tailored to your unique business needs.

Let’s grow together! Give us a call on 03 9001 6255, or fill out the form to book your free 30-minute workshop.