Dooley Noted

Online Reviews Matter To Small Businesses

Headshot of Adam Dooley, President, Dooley PR & Marketing

Replying to online reviews may be a path to higher profits

Online reviews have become a major part of most companies’ digital footprint. According to a recent survey by SAAS firm Womply, businesses that take the time to reply to online reviews tend to earn more revenue than those that don’t. We’re not surprised. Whether you like it or not, your prospects are checking your business out before they buy. They are probably scrolling through your social media feeds, and they’re almost certainly looking at reviews left by your previous customers.According to Womply, “The vast majority of businesses (75%) don’t respond to any of their reviews.” This is a serious mistake in our opinion. Even good reviews deserve a response. We manage reviews for our clients and try to respond to every review that comes in, good or bad. For good reviews, replies may be as simple as saying “Thanks for reaching out. We appreciate it.” A short reply like that takes very little time, but sends an important message to your customers: you’re listening and you want to hear from them.

Principle of Reciprocity

Human beings are hardwired to expect reciprocity. If you send someone a message, you expect a message back. If you give someone a gift, you expect some kind of recognition of that gift. A good review is a gift, so take the time to say thank you. You’ll be cementing your relationship with the customer who left that review (and they’ll probably be more likely to recommend you), and you’ll be signalling to others that you are responsive. (For an in depth discussion of the principle of reciprocity, see Robert Cialdini’s book Influence.) We think it’s even more important to respond to bad reviews. You may disagree with the reviewer, but if you respond in an appropriate tone, you may be able to blunt the impact of that bad review. When you reply to a negative review, you’re not only writing to the reviewer, you’re also writing for all the potential customers who will read it later.

Tips for Replying to Negative Reviews

We usually begin our replies to negative reviews by thanking the reviewer for taking the time to write. Often, if we view the review or complaint as legitimate or reasonable, we’ll simply apologize for the bad experience, reiterate our clients’ dedication to good service or product quality, and pledge to do better. We want to signal that we’re listening, that we have standards that we’re always trying to achieve and that we’re big enough to offer an apology. On rare occasions, where we think the review is inaccurate or misrepresents our client, we may offer a brief explanation that counters information left in the review. It’s important to always do this respectfully.Online reviews matter to be sure, but you should be seeking balance over time and not fretting about individual negative reviews. Give your prospective customers some credit that they aren’t going to believe every bad thing written. Everyone knows there are trolls and cranks out there. The way you respond to them means everything. We work with our clients on various strategies to encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews. In our experience, if you’re doing a good job, happy customers always outnumber the unhappy ones. Ask them to do the talking for you.

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