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Why You Need to Respond to Reviews (and How To Do It)


Last week we discussed the importance of online reviews. This edition will focus on how to respond to reviews and the best ways to utilize both positive and negative reviews to your advantage.


All Reviews Matter to your Reputation


There was a time when customers had to physically find a manager to leave either a positive or negative review. The face-to-face aspect of this could have proved daunting or discouraging, which may have decreased the feedback a company could receive.


Those days are long gone, and customers have the freedom and ability to leave comments and reviews from the safety of their home, car--anywhere as long as they have their phone. "80% of 18- to 34-year-olds have written online reviews," while 91% of that demographic trusts online reviews as much as word-of-mouth.


Reviews matter. In addition to reviews, responses to reviews are critical to your organic presence and your reputation. The old school thought is that you only need to respond to negative reviews, but there is research that shows responding to both positive and negative reviews will help build your reputation, increase your organic presence, and encourage customers to leave more reviews.


And responses to those reviews are critical. According to a study done by BrightLocal, 40% of consumers stated they always read the responses to reviews. Consumers are looking at positive and negative reviews and reading the responses to gauge the consumer/business relationship. Customers want to see that the business cares, and that message is portrayed through responses to reviews.


How to Respond to Positive Reviews


Customers want to see that their time and effort matter, and in the case of positive reviews, a brief acknowledgement can work. The less “in the weeds” you get with a happy customer, the better off your response is. The last thing needed is to be overly specific and have a customer raise a question or question why their experience was not the same. 


The key factors in responding to positive reviews are as follows:


  • Acknowledge Quickly
  • Address the Complement
  • Thank the Customer


Time is always critical with reviews, and you want to address them as soon as possible. Acknowledge the review quickly (within a day). Next, address the complement. It can be specific or generic, and you can add the name of the person who made the experience top notch if you are able. Finally, thank the customer. Your show of gratitude will go a long way, not only with the customer, but with everyone reading the reviews. 


Ex: Joe--Thank you so much for leaving a glowing review! At ABC Motors, we strive for an exceptional and personalized experience, and we are glad Steve did such a great job!


Short, sweet, and to the point. The customer will be happy, and everyone reading the reviews and responses will see you care enough to respond.


Why Negative Reviews Are Good


This may sound counterintuitive, but negative reviews can actually increase customer trust and transparency. 81% of consumers stated that they must be able to trust a brand prior to making a purchase, with 70% stating this is even more important now than it was in the past.

Seeing negative reviews, and then reading the responses builds that trust and transparency. It is a way for consumers to see how the dealership treats their customers and addresses issues that occur. 


And while there may be the errant person who wants to go “toe-to-toe” online, the majority of customers want to be acknowledged and heard. That is what you can provide with the correct response to a negative review.


How to Respond to Negative Reviews


One of the most important things to remember is that you do not want or need to prove yourself right or the customer wrong when responding to a review. The only thing that will show is that you care more about being right than solving the issue. There is a way to address the issue without opening the floodgates for an online argument.


  • Acknowledge Quickly
  • Address the Issue
  • Take Action


Just as it was with positive reviews, time is critical with responses to negative reviews. If you wait too long to respond to the customer, they may get more frustrated that they were not acknowledged and continue to vent online. Respond quickly and address the issue.


When addressing the issue, do not defend yourself or the dealership. It can be very tempting, especially if the customer is stating inaccurate facts. State that you are sorry the customer was not satisfied, and that you have higher expectations for your business. And then provide a call to action that will guide the customer offline and onto a call or an in-person meeting.


Ex: John-Thank you so much for letting us know about your experience. At ABC Motors, we pride ourselves on customer service. Please reach out to Steve Smith (General Manager) so we can try and make this right.


Key Takeaways


Make sure you are responding to all reviews--not just negative ones. And when responding, remember to acknowledge the person quickly, address the issue, and always offer a way for the customer to connect with you. 


Ensuring you handle reviews and respond to them well increases trust and transparency with your customers and will only benefit you both online and offline.


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