Making the effort to respond to reviews is an important customer service responsibility that often gets overlooked in big-picture franchise advertising plans.
In fact, review responses are so important that Google put together a list of best practices for responding, along with a dedicated response tool back in 2010 that operates through Google My Business. This tool automatically alerts business owners about any new reviews, and gives them the option to reply instantly using the same GMB dashboard where the notification appeared.
With these tools and guidelines in place, engaging audiences and building relationships through review responses has never been easier. And yet, more than 8 years after these assets were developed, franchisors and business owners still come to us with entry-level questions like:
- Should I be responding to reviews?
- Should I respond to positive reviews?
- Do I acknowledge or argue negative reviews?
Today’s post is meant to set the record straight on review responses for ORM and franchise advertising in 2018. Read on to learn what makes review responses so important, and how to approach your
What makes review responses so important in 2018?
In the past, review responses felt like a little something extra that business owners could do to boost their franchise advertising and online reputation management (ORM).
But all that’s changed. As of May 11th, 2018, Google announced that they would be “launching notification to inform your customers when you respond to their reviews, with plans to release mobile push notifications at a later date.”
Now, any time a business responds to a customer review, that customer gets an email notification 5-minutes after the response is published.
So what’s the big deal?
First, understand that even before this update rolled out,most customers expected a response within 24-hours of leaving a positive or negative review. Now that customers know they’ll be notified within minutes of getting a response, we can assume that reasonable 24-hour window will shrink. Consumers now know that business owners are being notified right away, so failing to respond quickly feels a little like when a loved one leaves a text message “Read” without replying!
Put another way, this Google rollout signals a big turning point in customer expectations in regards to reviews. In the past, reviews were considered as a way for consumers to “have their say,” whether that’s to applaud your business or warn other potential customers away.
Now things are different; people want to be heard, but also answered. Consumers expect responses from businesses – especially if they left a negative review – and those companies who fail to make the effort come off as inaccessible, neglectful, and uncaring.
Your reviews are doing double-duty as direct lines to customers, and billboards advertising your brand’s approach to customer service. Don’t take your responses lightly!
Reframing our approach to review responses
The onus is on brands to factor review responses into their franchise advertising efforts, though franchise advertising firms like ours do include these services as part of the updated 2018 ORM package.
Positive reviews should be treated as thank-you notes, and responded to with gratitude, while negative reviews should be thought of as direct cries for help that require urgent responses.
As per Google’s best practices, review responses should be written according to the following guidelines:
- Be nice and don’t get personal. This is a good rule of thumb for any aspect of your business’s customer relations. Don’t start typing out rebuttals to angry customer comments. Stay on-track with useful responses, and be courteous.
- Short and sweet. Don’t burn too much of your franchise advertising time on review responses. Keep it short and sweet; users want useful information, but nobody wants to read 6 paragraphs in this context.
- Be thankful, but always try to be useful. Responding to positive reviews with a simple “Thank you!” or “Thanks, we appreciate you!” is great, but working in new or relevant information is even better.
- Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so stop trying to “convert” them. But do try to share new, useful, or relevant information about your business in the way a friend might.