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Should you respond to every single online review?

Posted by Localyser | April 20, 2019

When it comes to online reputation management, the opinions vary, the experiences differ, the advices come in bulk! However, a sense of logic should forever be the overarching compass. The million-dollar question here is “should brands respond to each and every online review?”

Here’s a brain washer for you, according to a 2018 Localyser internal study in the UAE, 20% of brands regularly respond to online reviews on sites like Google, Zomato and TripAdvisor and the average response rate of those brands is about 40%. No wonder we still get pleasantly surprised whenever a brand answers us online, it remains an exception, it’s not the norm. Having said that, here are our two cents:

Read attentively. Respond selectively.

While responding to reviews indeed pays off, however, it does only to a certain point. Studies show that revenue levels rise as the number of management responses to online reviews increases. Yet, after an approximate 40% response rate, there seems to be a point of diminishing returns, meaning even if you answer more reviews, there won’t be a positive impact. In fact, the contrary may occur, as odd as this may seem!

Some say that making too many responses is worse than offering no response at all, in terms of both ratings and revenue; brands should focus on making constructive responses to negative reviews and acknowledging the most positive ones.

Acknowledging the comment is still key.

On review sites, at times, it’s saddening to observe the lack of interactions the brands have with their community. We often see brands publishing either in an infrequent manner or with an overtly repetitive promotional style of content. Whenever we see a user leaving a feedback or complaining that goes by unanswered, it rings the alarming question “does this brand listen to customer feedback?”

Speed matters!

Online reputation management is now considered a cardinal differentiator for brands in their marketing strategy, with impacts on customer service and delivery, public relations, sales and even recruiting. After all, consider that there are now 315 million unique visitors per month on TripAdvisor alone, all potential readers of that scathing review and glowing remarks, too! When management answers, it not only gives context to the user’s review, but also shows good customer care.

It’s important to answer reviews, not all of them though, especially that a brand must have a specific tone and tailored manner to ensure professionalism. Just like you would answer to a client at front desk… except online, there is a never-ending number of readers, on a daily basis!

Is there a rule of thumb?

Brands should absolutely answer every 1 or 2 star reviews, answer the negative leaning 3 star reviews and discriminate amongst the 4 and 5 star reviews to see which one should be answered depending on content and context. At the end of the day, brands should seek to engage in a way that helps the business grow, by deciding to write responses only when they are certain that a review response will add value to the customer experience while supporting brand outreach. Simply put!

What’s the rationale for not responding to every review?

Out of choices, using a template is the only way to go if a brand is seeking to achieve a 100% response rate. However, the page may come across as robotic or somewhat boring. Especially if we’re scoping this from a new customer’s perspective, who’s only way of familiarizing themselves with your business is via the brand’s page. Prior to establishing any sort of trust, a new customer reads a minimum of 10 reviews, also, 89% of new comers read the brand’s responses to the reviews – studies say!

People do not expect a brand to answer each and every review, mainly those that are ratings only and without any text. Having said that, people do expect seeing a kind, thoughtful, tailored and courteous response.

Are response templates ok?

Spring boarding from the fact that each review, comment and feedback is unique on its own, in return, the response should be likewise. Nevertheless, templates are still “A Okay” to use smartly! Meaning, a brand can adopt occasional templates, such as a thank you template, an apologetic template, an offer template and so on. As long as the template isn’t used to respond to a unique or a specific case. In order to avoid sounding machinelike!

The bottom line is, brands should engage in a manner that benefits the business’ growth; this can be achieved by deciding to respond only when the response will add value to the customer’s experience while supporting the brand’s outreach. Successful brands are those who are consistently adaptive to their business sensibilities to crystallize an understanding of what it takes to deliver excellence. Rest assured that deciding to how to engage isn’t made based on flowcharts. The main objective should be to give each customer the best experience possible at every stage of their engagement with the business.

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