One of the most important aspects of any business is its reputation. For small businesses, reputation can mean the difference between consumer loyalty or trust lost. One of the main ways that consumers gauge the trustworthiness of a business is through online reviews. It is important for you to stay up-to-date and reply to your reviews.
You may think that replying to your customers is a waste of time and their positive reviews have said everything that needs to be said. You may even think that replying to negative reviews will look too much like damage control.
In reality, replying to the reviews people have left pays dividends in loyalty between you and your customers, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and reputation management.
Loyalty is Royalty
The goal of every business is, of course, to create and retain loyal customers. When you create loyalty with your customers, your business can flourish with greater and more consistent opportunities. Moreover, when this loyalty is rewarded, people will inevitably share their positive experiences with others, rocketing your operations skyward.
Build your loyalty and give your customers a greater sense of appreciation by taking time to reply to their comments. You will want to reply as soon as possible, ideally within a day.
This personal time isn’t the only thing that can make them feel appreciated, as mentioning specific points of their review or experience with you makes it feel like they aren’t just another face or another transaction. Avoid responding with something canned or impersonal.
You can take this a step further and invite them to do something like add a picture next time they leave a review, or offer a promotional deal for their review. This will let them know you are interested in continuing the interaction with them, and make it feel like they are being rewarded as well. Finish off your reply with gratitude and watch the good will grow!
If You Type It, They Will Come
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important strategies any business can invest in. With SEO, businesses can reach wider audiences by appearing higher on search engine result pages. This is key for businesses to get a leg up on the competition, because after all, who wants their competitors catching their customers’ eyes first? Certainly not you!
Replying to reviews is a great way to improve your SEO. Using keywords on your website will already help this, but adding more through your review responses just means that much more for search engines to pick up on.
Some keywords you could include in your replies are:
- Your business name
- Your business’ address
- Even the type of business you are or the service you provide
Be sure to not overload your response with keywords, it will easily come off as inauthentic, losing sincerity — and possibly your credibility.
Open To Criticism
While every business would like their reviews to be perfect and positive, it is inevitable that you will run into some that are not-so-positive. Negative reviews for your business may feel hurtful or surprising to receive, but don’t let that stop you from addressing these criticisms.
In fact, you should take these as more opportunities to prove your value as an upstanding, responsive business that isn’t afraid to own up to its mistakes. This is a chance to maintain or fix your reputation, so don’t let it slip by!
As with any review, you will want to reply as soon as possible and publicly so that you appear responsive and available. Take responsibility and make sure to mention a specific way for the reviewer to reach you and rectify the situation. Don’t engage in a long conversation publicly, either. An email is good, but a phone call is even better.
When replying to negative reviews, it is important to make sure you don’t take anything personally. Getting defensive and engaging in a back-and-forth argument will tarnish your professional reputation, as will deleting the review. If the customer’s anger starts to elevate over multiple responses, just remain calm. Readers will make their own judgements about the commenter.
It is an intimidating undertaking, but replying to negative comments shows that you are willing to do what it takes to ensure customer satisfaction. Avoid being generic, and let the person know that you actually care to know and fix their issues with your product or service. Remember to thank them for taking the time to provide you with an opportunity to improve.
Replying to reviews benefits you in more ways than one. Create trust and exemplify what it means to be a professional by addressing reviews on your page, whether they are positive or negative. It takes enough time to gain a customer, so do your best to retain them. A little extra effort can go a long way in securing your spot among the top of the search engine and the minds of customers who need your services.