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Should Local Businesses Respond to Reviews?

Should Local Businesses Respond to Reviews?

Local businesses rely on their customers to be successful and value their feedback, positive or negative. This is why online reviews are incredibly important for businesses, giving them an opportunity to see what their strengths and weaknesses are based on how the customers feel.

However, there are times when these reviews can be volatile in nature, intended to provoke them into responding and reflecting poorly on the company. 26% of consumers believe that it is important for local businesses to respond to its reviews, and while it’s an opportunity for a business to fix any potential issues, it’s also vital to know when and how to respond effectively to get the most benefits.

Negative Review Responses

Reading negative reviews is no doubt frustrating, but the best way to respond to negative online reviews is to maintain a professional, calm tone while indicating an awareness of the perceived issue. Negative reviews can be wrought with emotional tirades that may not contain any constructive criticism for the business and can even be offensive to read. The legitimacy of the complaints found in a negative review can vary, but if a business feels that they can address the problem accordingly, then they should feel free to respond. The response should be professional and quick, apologizing for the inconvenience while proposing a solution. The response should look something like this:

“Hi [customer’s name] we would like to apologize for your negative experience at our dealership. We’d like to learn more about your specific situation and make things right. If you wouldn’t mind giving us a call at [contact number] at your earliest convenience, it would be greatly appreciated. We look forward to speaking with you and working to earn back your business.”

This response is positive in nature, apologizing and presenting an opportunity to fix the problem, indicating that the business cares about the customer’s opinion and wishes to please them in the future. Statistics indicate that 95% of unhappy customers will return for services if the business reaches out and resolves the issue quickly, and by responding professionally to a negative review, this can help mend the relationship with the customer.

In the healthcare field, there is a risk that responding to a negative review can sometimes lead to an unethical exposure of clientele information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and state privacy laws. If an organization chooses to respond to a negative review, they need to be careful not to reveal the client’s information even if the client discloses personal information. The response should be vague and look something like this:

“When working with patients, we are committed to providing the best patient care experience. It is our policy to adjust wait times as necessary especially if there are emergency situations.”

This response is directly acknowledging the client’s dissatisfaction through the lens of the company’s policy while ensuring that no personal information was revealed about the client. This prevents the company from violating HIPAA and state privacy laws. In order to show the customer that the organization cares about their needs and will strive to improve in the future, an offline phone call or conversation is more appropriate.

Positive Review Responses

Many businesses choose not to respond to positive reviews, and while there is no requirement to do so, there are good reasons to consider it. Responding to a positive online review shows the customer that the business values their support and is optimistic to work with them again in the future. This forges trust between the customer and business and promotes a healthy relationship that will result in the business’ profit and customer satisfaction.

For example, it’s important to personalize each response to a customer’s review, thanking them as well as promoting your business and incentivize them to come back again in the future. It should look something like this:

“Thank you [customer’s name]! The team here at [business] is thrilled to hear such good feedback, and we’re proud to be one of the highest quality [service provided] in the [city/state]. Next time, try our best seller [product/service].”

The response is grateful as well as marketing to everyone else who reads the review online. There is no right or wrong moment to respond to a review, and businesses are encouraged to respond to reviews at their own discretion. Responding to reviews can generate success for the company and encourage more customers to come to them for their needs in the future. Most importantly, these responses should always be professional and courteous, because a customer’s satisfaction with a local business is invaluable.

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