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Boost business by responding to online reviews

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Dr. Mark Frohman

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BY MARK FROHMAN

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bad online reviews can discourage potential customers, but sticking your head in the sand by ignoring a bad review is not your best option.

In fact, responding to customer reviews can result in better ratings and improve your business’ online reputation.

A study analyzed tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor. The study found that a third of reviews on TripAdvisor receive a response and almost one-half of hotels responded to those reviews. According to the study, hotels that respond to customer reviews receive 12 percent more reviews and their ratings increased by an average of 0.12 stars.

Be polite and avoid getting personal: If you’ve received a bad review online, it can be tempting to defend your business. However, Google points out it’s important that business owners remain polite and avoid getting personal when they respond to customer reviews.

Replies should be useful, readable and courteous, because it’s difficult to win an argument with a displeased customer. That’s why it’s important to think before you reply to a negative review. If a reviewer thinks a response to the review is discourteous, condescending or misleading in any way, there’s a chance he or she could make the situation even worse.

Thank your reviewers and customize responses: You might get angry over a bad review, but your response should be professional, trustworthy and kind. Apologize to the customer and thank them for taking the time to provide feedback.

Also, make sure you use the reviewer’s name and recap their specific complaint. Customizing responses will show that your business genuinely appreciates customer feedback. That can help transform a negative review into a positive one.

Consider uploading an image with your review response: Uploading a photo make the messages more personal. If you’re responding to a bad review, consider a video response message or send relevant photos with your response. It will show that you’re taking the complaint seriously and are responding in a diligent way, which can help build trust with your customers and win them over — despite their negative experience.

Communicate online that you’ve taken action: Even before social media and online reviews, customer feedback has always been an essential part of improving business performance. If you’ve received a negative online review, showing that you’ve taken the steps to address the issue could help turn a negative reviewer into a positive one and attract more customers. Once you’ve acted upon the issue your customer raised, reply to the customer on the review site so that and other customers can read what you’ve done.

Dr. Mark Frohman is the owner of Frohman Consulting Corp. and a counselor with SCORE, a nonprofit business-consulting group.

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