January 15, 2021  |  by Bloom Communications

In today’s consumer market, customers typically trust online reviews as much as word of mouth recommendations from family and friends. And while businesses depend on those reviews being as good as possible, a bad review or two—when managed effectively—can actually have a bigger impact on a customer’s decision to patronize your business than a slew of good reviews.

It’s Your Response That Matters

Among customers who read online reviews regularly, 96% read a business’s response. They know that unexpected things happen, and they want to know how you deal with it. 

Plus, potential customers or clients also tend to actually seek out negative reviews or reviewers who are criticizing the company. Interacting with those reviews can increase the amount of time a person spends on a website by 500%. More importantly, interaction with negative reviews increases conversion rates by 85%.

Why do those specific metrics increase? When people see negative reviews, they see an honest company that’s not afraid to accept criticism. Their next step is to look at how the company responds to that feedback. They want to know if a company will empathize with the customer or get defensive, or if it will try to make things right or hide behind “policy.”

You probably know instinctively which option a customer would prefer. That’s the key in responding to online reviews—consider what the person needs to feel better about your brand, then communicate it in writing.

Examples of Effective Responses

Respond to negative reviews as soon as possible. Avoid getting defensive or returning the attack. Instead, draft a response that is professional, concise, and empathetic, and when it’s appropriate, offer to connect with the customer offline.

When You Can Make It Right

Whether or not you agree with the customer’s reason for being upset, be humble and offer to make it right or make it up to the person. For example:

Hello, {Name}! I’m {Name}, the owner/manager at {company}. I’d like to personally apologize for your recent experience with us – we did not live up to the standards we expect of ourselves. We take pride in our product/service and our customer care, and we want to make things right.

Expect a call from us in the next few days/Please give me a call at {phone number}. I’m committed to finding a solution for you.

When You Need to Clarify

You can’t always give the customer what they want. If the customer was misinformed or mistaken, you can gently clarify and offer to discuss the matter further offline. Here’s an example:

Hello, {Name}! I’m sorry to hear about your recent experience with our company. We always put customer service first, so we went back and checked our records. We found that {respectful explanation of the facts}.

We take all feedback seriously and we’re happy to discuss this further with you if you’d like. Reach out to us at {contact info}. 

Sincerely,

{Representative name and position}

Encourage Positive Reviews

Responses like the ones above can help you win back business, but even the best response won’t save you if you have mostly negative reviews. More than 80% of shoppers are less likely to patronize a business after seeing negative reviews, while 91% are more likely to buy after seeing positive reviews.

To entice more people to leave positive reviews, create a company-wide strategy for requesting them. If you have frequent face-to-face interactions with customers, train your representatives to ask for reviews after completing a successful transaction. 

If you’re a larger company or you do business remotely, ask digitally. You can even automate this process so that customers get a review invitation shortly after they’ve received their product or completed their service. 

Let a Public Relations Firm Handle It

Global executives attribute 63% of their companies’ respective market values to reputation. You wouldn’t let amateurs wire two-thirds of your company’s electricity or manage two-thirds of your funds, so why leave PR to someone who doesn’t specialize in it?

Reputation protection and management is one of the core responsibilities of a PR firm. And one part of that task includes soliciting positive reviews and proactively responding to negative reviews in a way that builds goodwill—not just with the customer who left the review, but with others who read that review to see how you responded.

Next Steps for Your Brand

Ready to work with the best in PR? Bloom Communications is an integrated PR agency with offices in Portland and Austin.

We offer brand management and reputation management services and use public relations best practices to demonstrate your brand’s credibility, earn consumer trust, and influence behavior. If an unforeseen reputation crisis does occur, we’re ready to step in with our crisis communication expertise.

For more information, or to discuss your brand’s specific needs, contact us today.