10 Characteristics of a Well-Written Review Response

In metrics-based brand management, one of the most important steps of the process is benchmarking.

Having a clear idea of the standard by which your processes, services, and results will be measured can help in any facet of a business, but it is particularly important in areas that directly affect the customer. Review responses on third-party review websites are now a must-have for any business that aspires to have a solid online reputation. Responses speak of due diligence and commitment to delivering a customer experience conducive to retention, loyalty, and growth.  If you have been engaging in a two-way dialogue with your customers and potential shoppers at large through review responses, then you need to know how to craft a review response that addresses customer centricity, brand development, SEO objectives, and message amplification.

We see plenty of review responses which are amateurish in tone, and borderline dangerous. If you are working on implementing a way to evaluate and improve the tone, style, content, and technique of your review responses on third-party websites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google+, and OpenTable, then read on as we count down the 10 characteristics of a well-written review, regardless of industry.

  1. A Well-Written Response Can Respectfully Disagree and Provide a Way Out

When someone has a poorly based complaint that is unfair and the result of the customer not having a clear understanding of product or policy, and the business wishes to respond with a clarification that is in direct disagreement with the complaint, it must be done politely. If the truth and the facts are on your side, then you still need to be gracious and frame your response in a way that conveys relational interest with the customer and leaves the door open for additional business. Even if you are 100 percent correct and the customer is 100 percent wrong, it is never a good idea to back a person into a corner without giving him or her a way out. Craft a response that points to the facts but also coveys the value of the relationship. Respectfully disagreeing is all about balance.

  1. A Well-Written Response Banks on Emotional Connections

Both negative and positive review responses are an invitation to establish emotional bonds with someone who is already vested in your business. Write a response that appeals to the needs and wants of the reviewer and seeks to connect emotionally by conveying affinity and shared objectives. Let your customers know that you are on their team.

  1. A Well-Written Response Expands on the Best That Your Business Has to Offer

Did you know that almost 8 out of 10 consumers read reviews prior to engaging with a business? With this in mind, and taking into account that most shoppers will at least read five customer reviews, the way you respond is likely to define whether the shopper is likely to convert into a customer. Craft responses that not only tackle the issues the reviewer brought to light, but also expand to discuss the features that make your business desirable and worthy of patronage time and time again. Did the reviewer highlight your killer Mimosa?  Consider expanding on your response by talking about your happy hour and Sunday brunch. A shopper is far more likely to read your response than to head to your website and review your overall offering. Give the reader a taste of things to come, and hopefully capture his or her attention and business.

  1. A Well-Written Response Is Brand Sensitive and Consistent

We really need to give a special emphasis to consistency across all responses. Consistency in review responses can be achieved by making sure every single reviewer is treated equally and given the same level of attention, the same types of remedy, and the same options. In addition to making sure there is equanimity in how businesses deal with customers, those responding to reviews must make a concerted effort to always stick to the brand voice and find ways to encourage top-of-mind awareness.

  1. A Well-Written Response Aims to Restore Relationships

Customer acquisition is pricey, and marketing budgets are best utilized in expanding a business instead of dealing with a high churn rate. Responses that seek to restore relationships and right wrongs by setting the stage for a second chance are evidence of an online reputation heading in the right direction.

  1. A Well-Written Response Is Crafted with Clarity

A review response will be read by a variety of people from many backgrounds. Stick to language that is conducive to clarity and simplicity. Refrain from industry lingo, colloquialisms, or verbosity. There is great beauty and effectiveness in responses written with simple and intentional language.

  1. A Well-Written Response Follows Host Policies

Smart business leaders know how to play by the rules. The best way to get ahead in the online-reputation game is by making sure you are familiar with the policies and procedures associated with each of the host websites. A response that follows the host-website rules will be quickly moderated and approved for posting, allowing for a more agile interaction with the reviewer. Learning and following the rules will give you a competitive advantage and help you maintain a good standing with the host.

  1. A Well-Written Response Is Grammatically Correct

Conciseness, clarity, and proper grammar are essential in conveying professionalism. Make it a point to edit your responses and, if needed, have a second set of eyes look at each response prior to posting. Poor grammar impacts credibility and leads to confusion.

  1. A Well-Written Review Response Is Relevant

You need to listen to the voice of your customers carefully and intentionally. More than we care to report, we find review responses that have no relevance to the issues raised by the reviewer. Instead, the brand representative tasked with responding to reviews uses a template and responds per the star ratings. If 4+, the template expresses gratitude; if less than three stars, the response is a generic apology. Lack of personalization and relevance to the issues or compliments raised by the reviewer is borderline criminal and a terrible reputation-management faux pas. The tone of your response and level of attention to detail expressed through relevance shows your commitment toward customer retention and loyalty. If you are going to respond, then do it as if you had the customer in front of you, looking eye to eye. The reviewer deserves your respect as conveyed by how you decide to package and deliver your review response.

  1. A Well-Written Response Is More Than Words

We love to leave the best for last. If there is one thing you can do to cause a great impression, it is to actually follow through. Do what you promised in your response, particularly if you are dealing with a disappointed customer. A review response that is not backed up by actions is worse than no response at all. Let your word be as good as money.

Author: Crystal Shuller –  Article originally published on Review Trackers blog.

Online Review Management: Fostering Feedback

Fostering Feedback

In a world where news is instantaneous and people all but expect reviews for every business they come across, it’s not too much of a stretch to tell you that your business needs testimonials to thrive. However, sometimes it seems only the angry customers are happy to provide feedback, leaving you with an unfair representation of your brand. It’s time to take to the offensive. Here are the proven best practices for inviting your customers to leave their two cents.

Give Them the Tools

Even when it comes to the internet, people are lazy. The more pages they have to visit, the less inclined they are to visit them. This is why having a review section directly on your site will greatly increase the chance your customers will respond. Be it a pop up during check out or a submit field in their email receipt, keep the process as hassle-free as is technologically possible.

Personalize Your Request

Chances are when a customer reaches out to you, they leave their name or some form of identification. Do not let this go to waste. Use their name to personalize your correspondence. The use of their first or last names immediately grabs their attention, increasing response rates by up to 10%.

Use Surveys

Surveys are great when you find yourself with a lack of customers filling out dauntingly empty textboxes. In the feedback world, surveys can be as long or as short as you need, helping incorporate feedback from those that don’t have the time necessary to form their own thoughts. It’s a simple gauge of their feelings on your brand. Then, after they’ve been warmed up with some easy questions, the feedback box at the end won’t seem so intimidating.

Keep it Simple

Some companies take the feedback option a bit too far. They’ll have an unobtrusive tab that opens up to a full page exam not even related to what the customer experienced. Nothing will turn away suggestion providers faster than a surprise, two-page feedback quiz. Remember, feedback is about small, specific moments. The simpler it is for them to fill out, the more likely they will.

Offer a ‘Thank You’ Gift

In the end, sometimes all it takes is a small token of gratitude to get your site decorated with testimonials. Coupons, free items and chances to win big prizes pull in reluctant supporters. Just remember to keep the reward value in line with the value the testimonial would have for your site. And, remember, you offer it for the review – good or bad.  It is not to serve as a “bribe” for a good review.

Start bringing in feedback now by actively pursuing your regular and new customers. You have to be proactive and take charge of your online review management.  It’s a part of your first impression and it’s lasting.  Without their words of approval, the rate of new business will remain slow and stagnant, never blooming into the growth you planned to see this quarter.

Updates for Small Business Yelp

The pioneer of aggregate critique collection, Yelp continues to be the hub of how consumers judge businesses. The higher the rating, the better chance you’ll get new visitors. To date, it remains the most influential site for customers. This means that every one-star rating yields up to a 9% decrease in sales. What this means for you is that you need to be on top of your Yelp page, monitoring and responding to reviews. Recently, Yelp released a whole host of updates through their Yelp for Business Owners app, giving you, the small business yelp user even more power than before.

Master the Profile Pic

Before you can actually start posting on Yelp, whether as a business or individual, you need a profile pic. Though the requirement might seem a bit draconian, it is in place to scare away as many trolls as possible, considering many only target easy to sign up for sites. This new app makes the process much easier, allowing you to pull photos from your phone. As soon as the photo is up, you can then tackle the reviews.

Why reviews? The reviews are your reputation. If too many bad ones pile up, you’ll be a company people avoid rather than flock to. Responding to the reviews is a great way to connect with your customer base to learn what works and what doesn’t, opening the doors to improvement. The first step, however, is actually seeking them out.

Picture Your Business

It used to be that Yelp photos could only ever be uploaded while at a computer. Luckily, this outdated and restrictive mode of updating is no longer an issue. The new app lets you add business photos from your phone as well. Be it more great pics of the interior or happy customers, those businesses with a selection of photos find themselves with customers that spend more time on their page.

Protect Your Page

Any page is subject to spam, not the least of which is Yelp, a high profile site. Though their team is great at preventing as much harassment as possible, they simply can’t catch everything. When you come across a flagrant violation of the site’s guidelines, you need to get rid of it fast. With their new app, you now have a flagging feature. With one tap, a picture, review or message is noted as a potential removal. The Yelp team then reviews the issue and deletes it if need be. This simple feature makes managing your business’ reputation even easier.

Yelp for the small business is no longer a day long hassle that seems to never end. With their current roster of updates, it’s clear that they are ready and willing to change with the times to remain a viable source of information for both the public and businesses at large. Don’t let this resource go untapped.

Reviews are Word of Mouth: The Most Powerful Form of Advertising

Many have read negative reviews and some may have written one or two themselves. Often, when a business receives a negative review they don’t know really what to do.

Some will come out of the gate swinging

Mad, angry and ready to defend their team and their every move – sometimes they miss the main message or the constructive feedback embedded in the review.

Some will take the ostrich defense

Acting too busy or completely unaware that there has been a negative review or comments about their business, they decide to not even acknowledge the review.

Some are just as service focused online as they are offline

And, it serves them well. They are focused, listening and eager to help their customer and do take a genuine interest in translating their customer’s review to something that could become a plan to put into place for improvement.

How do you reduce the negative and increase the positive?

Make it a priority

A recent study shows that, on average, 10.4 information sources are checked before making a decision.

Create a good product and provide quality service

It’s important that you are providing quality all the way around. As a marketing team, we’re often asked to put “lipstick on a pig” which means we’re asked to make someone look amazing and engaged on social when their actual product or service is not that good.

Those companies we ask to “go back” and review their actual services. Many times, they know what they need to improve on but haven’t focused or made a commitment to make those changes.

Provide avenues or front level connections where customers can communicate and vent

It’s true. If you’re listening at the level where customers are doing business or engaging, then you’ll decrease negative reviews.

Providing customers the opportunity to be heard and to be valued, will negate those who want to take to the review sites or social airways to vent. If they feel heard at this level, they feel valued.

Are you asking for feedback? Are you listening to the response?

Does your team do the same? Are they willing to listen to constructive criticism and helpful in seeking solution?

Have the ability to capture positive comments in an easy way

To increase positive reviews, the key is not to bribe your customers for them or to exchange goods or money for them (that’s not ethical!).

Instead, provide an easy format to capture their positive comments.

One fitness facility we worked with had a laptop available to clients to capture their video comments and reviews on how much they enjoyed the facility.

Another utilizes a review funnel we created them that captures and promotes the positive reviews and sends negative reviews immediately to a customer care team member who contacts them for more personal interaction and feedback.

Respond fast

Either online or in person, quickly respond to reviews with a level head and the focus of nurturing the relationship with the client. Unless after careful consideration you feel that the person is being abusive or disrespectful and that would need to be determined during you contact of response to them (unless they were very explicit and derogatory in their review).

It is a conscious decision that needs to be made and not a knee-jerk or “rage quit” decision.

*rage quit: when someone emotionally takes action to no longer speak or engage with someone and quits in a fit of anger.

Offer opportunities and incentives

Let’s be clear. You’re not offering these in exchange for a positive review – that would be unethical! What you are doing is offering this opportunities and incentives to those who have left negative reviews giving them a chance to try you again; or to see how you’ve made improvements from their feedback; or to show them that what they initially experienced was not the normal experience and provide them the opportunity to experience what you really deliver.

If we can assist you in creating these easy systems with the tools we have that make this easy for you and encouraging positive word of mouth , please let us know – we would be honored to assist you!

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.


The Myths and Truths About Customer Reviews


The diversity of voices and opinions that create authenticity and ultimately value in a business’s online reputation.

In evaluating a product or service, consumers want to hear from more than just its ranters and ravers. They triangulate on the truth from many points of view.

This quick video takes you through the 5 Myths About Customer Reviews and introduces you to a Review Funnel that can help become a positive marketing channel for you.

Why Customer Reviews Matter

You can find hundreds of recent stats and studies that confirm the insanely influential role online reviews play in getting customers to buy or try new products, services, and local businesses. I cite some of the most salient findings in this section, but for me, the most compelling evidence comes right from our clients:

  • An urban chiropractor asks his new patients where they heard about his practice. In the last year, he says that the proportion of total patients identifying review sites as the referral doubled from about 40% to 80% of all new patients.
  • A spa with glowing online reviews was getting a steady flow of new client leads. Eager to grow, the owner ran a Groupon daily deal that brought in scores of new clients at once, but the spa staff wasn’t prepared, leading to service failures and a spate of scathing reviews. The owner says business slowed to a halt until she took measures to recover her reputation.
  • Two competing pizza joints opened a block away from each other in a town with a cutthroat dining scene and high restaurant turnover. One owner decided to go “black-hat” and buy scores of fake reviews to “prime the pump,” while our client focused on collecting a few honest reviews from real customers every month. Our client has grown a steady following, visibly busy most nights and packed on the weekends. The most visible activity from the competitor is online: a bunch of empty five-star ratings and 2 comments from real customers calling out the phony reviews!

These rangy anecdotes are just that: anecdotes. But for me, they expose the power and complexity of what has been dubbed “social proof,” the notion that consumers now validate or invalidate for each other the value proposition of your business. It’s not quick or easy to build genuine social proof, but it is definitely worth it. Here’s why.

Reviews are Insanely Influential

Customer reviews matter.  We now live in what Forrester Research has dubbed “The Age of the Customer,” and guess what? Empowered customers are more demanding than ever, and they have the ability to make or break your business. They don’t trust what you say about your product or service, and they really don’t trust your ads. Instead, they trust other people like themselves.

So, whether you’re talking about a restaurant, a medical practice or an electrical contracting company, it’s hard to overstate the influence its customers now have on each other. Because customer reviews are perceived as being written by regular folks with no agenda, people trust them—even more than they trust expert opinions. A 2011 study found that 55% of consumers felt that the opinions of “people like me” had the greatest impact on their buying decisions. To underscore the point, the popular members-only home service review site Angie’s List started using this tagline in the same year:

“Reviews you can trust, written by people just like you.”

And globally, trust in online reviews is on the rise. According to Nielsen’s 2012 “Global Trust in Advertising Survey,” 70% of consumers trust online reviews from people they don’t know, up 15% from four years earlier. Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations, whether from strangers or from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

And keep in mind that those who regularly read and post online reviews tend to be younger, wealthier and more optimistic about technology—an attractive segment for most businesses to reach.

Author Bio:  

Jon Hall has helped small and medium businesses over the last decade and a half, most recently as the co-founder of a Web marketing software solution for medical practices that was acquired in 2013. He loves the grit and excitement of working alongside business owners and entrepreneurs, and lives to see them succeed

The Cost of the Unhappy Customer

It seems like the first instinct now when you’re dissatisfied with a company is to post it on social media. According to Vision Critical, there are large costs associated with an unhappy customer.

Take a look and see how that unhappiness  has reach and influence fueling it.