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Positive or Negative: How to Respond Effectively to Customer Reviews cover image

Positive or Negative: How to Respond Effectively to Customer Reviews

Positive or negative – there’s really no such thing as a “bad review” if you’re responding correctly. Read on for tips and examples of how to get your response right every time.

Introduction

Reviews represent a real opportunity for online retailers — if you know how to manage and leverage them to their full potential. Simply displaying reviews can boost your conversion rate by 270% — but the benefits don’t end there. The timing and content of your response to reviews can play a major role in maximizing their impact.

Correctly harness the power of reviews and you’ll enjoy better customer engagement, potent sales ammo, and the persuasive powers of social proof.

Even negative reviews give you a chance to learn and improve. Research shows that consistently positive reviews are actually perceived as “too good to be true” – so embrace a few dropped stars!

On the flip side, if you fail to manage reviews effectively, you risk exposing your business to a range of problems. From customers feeling disappointment due to a lack of follow-up, to browsing consumers being put off by unanswered issues — it’s important to have a clear strategy for responding to the positive and negative reviews your brand attracts.

Over half of your customers will be expecting a reply to the reviews they leave on your site. Responding to reviews boosts your SEO, and can bring a 16% boost to your customer advocacy (but fail to answer negative reviews and you risk a 37% decline).

Let’s explore some of the strategies you can put in place to make sure your customers get the responses they deserve.

How to respond to positive reviews

It’s wonderful to get great feedback from happy customers, but your work is far from done. If you want to see the very best results, you’ll view positive reviews as a starting point, and not the finish line.

Following up on positive reviews is essential. Have a clear strategy for best practice when it comes to the way in which your brand crafts and delivers its replies. You’ll want to find the sweet spot between a short, generic “thank you” and anything too overblown and excessive (which research suggests, could actually come across as too promotional and disingenuous).

If you want to give a fuller response to a positive review, then depending on the frequency at which you receive reviews, you might want to consider delaying your response — just slightly. This means that positive reviews will have reached the second page or break point by the time your reply is published, reducing the risk of being seen as self-promoting in your responses.

Whatever your strategy around timing, you must acknowledge and thank the customer. They’re already thinking favorably about your brand, and a response is a great opportunity to cement a lasting relationship in a personal, friendly and genuine manner.

The impact of following up in this considered manner is impressive. Brands that reply to at least 32% of their reviews were shown to enjoy 80% higher conversions than their direct competitors.

Tip: Try not to use generic, canned responses to positive reviews. It doesn’t take much effort to pick up on a few personal and unique elements of their experience or order. Write in your defined brand voice. Be memorable but human — coming across as “salesy” or over the top in your response may backfire. Provide exclusive product insights or recommendations to nurture customer loyalty.

Positive review examples:

1. Salty K

Positive review response for Salty K

Here, Okendo customer Salty K nails the perfect response — a personalized greeting, genuine thanks, and a subtle reference to a new product drop coming soon.

2. La Matera

Positive review response for La Matera

La Matera provides a lovely example of a response to a positive review for a woven leather belt — name checking the reviewer, and honoring the fact that she is a repeat customer.

3. LSKD

Positive review response for LSKD

LSKD crafts a great response that thanks the reviewer while enforcing its defined brand voice.

Positive review response template

Remember, when replying to a public review, your response makes an impression not only on the customer in question but also on other curious buyers, looking for social proof.

In replying to positive reviews, keep these three key areas in mind:

  • Personalization: acknowledge their individual experience.
  • Thanks: show genuine appreciation for the positive feedback and the time taken to review.
  • Reinforce brand positioning: if appropriate, drop a subtle reference to your ethics, attitude, approach to your vertical etc. But do be careful not to come across as too promotional or disingenuous.

Positive reviews: Going beyond the written response

Use the data that you gain from positive reviews to create sharper segmentation of your future communications. Okendo’s integration with Klaviyo makes this easier than ever before, pulling customer and product data collected by using Okendo's Attributes into targeted campaign flows. Dog treats brand WAG utilized this tactic and saw the performance of campaigns that leveraged review data leap. The brand experienced a 300% increase in Placed Order Rate and a 423% increase in Revenue Per Recipient. CTR was up by 64%, and open rate benefited from a 43% boost.

Segmented email for WAG

Do you have a super fan leaving lots of positive feedback? Strengthen their affinity with your brand by featuring their review or UGC in future marketing campaigns. As well as rewarding their effort with recognition and respect, this is a great way to encourage others to leave glowing reviews in the future.

Review posted on Instagram

A positive review can also be a great cue to introduce a loyalty program, so work this into your follow up communication strategy, using favorable reviews to help create a tiered reward system. A targeted follow up email that shows your happy customer how they could benefit from future purchases is perfectly judged to inspire loyalty and increased CLV. What’s more, Okendo’s loyalty integration with LoyaltyLion, Smile.io, and Rise.ai means your customers can continue to benefit as they go on to make and review future purchases with you.

Integration bubbles with LoyaltyLion, Smile.io and Rise.ai

How to respond to negative reviews

While no one’s heart leaps at a negative review, they’re still a really important aspect of social proof on your ecommerce store. Negative reviews provide an opportunity for improvement, and a chance to show off your amazing customer service when things don’t go quite to plan.

Beyond this, research has shown that brands displaying perfect approval ratings and consistently positive reviews come across as a little too perfect – instead of trust, the customer is more likely to feel suspicious, and actively search for negative reviews. 85% of consumers already seek out negative reviews to help inform their purchase decisions. For consumers in the 18-29 age bracket, this leaps to 91%.

So, negative reviews help us keep things real – but they also require careful handling. Do not assume that all is lost and this customer can be written off forever. A negative review left unaddressed is a smoldering ember that could reignite at any time.

Time is of the essence here: have a plan in place to respond quickly and effectively. Act while the experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind and you have a chance to repair some of the damage to the relationship.

Tip: You can still use a negative review to establish your brand position. Clearly state how things should have gone, according to your high standards. Acknowledge that on this occasion, they did not — and proactively take steps to correct the issue. Provide alternative recommendations. Customer loyalty can still be won back.

Negative review examples:

1. The Office of Angela Scott

Negative review response for The Office of Angela Scott

Although this review earned by The Office of Angela Scott consists of some positive feedback, care has been taken to respond to the finer detail of its content. In this instance, the customer expressed a subtle disappointment with the product they purchased, which was acknowledged with a promise to provide additional product insights and tips. They even recommend alternative products that would better fit the customer’s needs.

2. Tuff Wraps

Negative review response for Tuff Wraps

These powerlifting wrist wraps earned a lower than average star rating, but Tuff Wraps were ready with a great reply. Their measured response gives a very clear explanation of the product design (and how it has been informed by careful customer surveying). In addition to giving this background information, they offer an alternative product and give clear information about how the customer can obtain this replacement.

3. Weezie Towels

Negative review response for Weezie Towels

An issue with product functionality earned these Weezie make up towels a suboptimal review. In addition to thanking the reviewer for their time and apologizing for the disappointment, Weezie goes one better, turning their reply into an opportunity for a little education around the product’s use. A best practice example would see this feedback being passed on to their team’s copywriter, so the product description could be tweaked to help better communicate the towels’ functionality.

Negative review response template

When handling negative reviews, remember that many potential customers will be witnessing how you respond to issues. This is a chance to showcase amazing customer service and turn a negative situation on its head.

In crafting your responses to a negative review, follow this three part formula and you can’t go far wrong:

  • Personalized thanks: for taking the time to communicate the issue and giving your brand a chance to put things right.
  • Sincere apology: make it genuine, no excuses.
  • Positive action: direct steps you’ll be taking to fix the issue and make amends.

Negative reviews: Going beyond the written response

Negative reviews can help inform your future marketing efforts. Beyond publicly using customer feedback to finetune your product offering (Glossier does a great job of this), you can leverage segmentation to ensure the right message is reaching your less satisfied customers.

Beginning Boutique has used the Okendo-Klaviyo integration to set up automated campaigns that ask for more feedback from customers who left a negative review (denoted as three stars or less). This helps customers feel valued, appreciated and, thanks to the automation, keeps a consistent experience for everyone involved. They’ve seen a 109% increase in review rate from email, and a 37% review request click rate.

Feedback request email for Beginning Boutique

The period after leaving a poor review might not be the best time to ask a customer to join your loyalty program or refer a friend. But they might be interested in a discount, incentivizing them to give you another chance, so factor this into your follow up flows.

Ready to rev-up your review responses?

When providing timely responses to feedback and ratings, it’s essential to work with review software that gives you an overview of your customer feedback and practical tools to help you respond.

Okendo’s content management system gives you control of all incoming reviews, enabling perfectly timed and judged responses. Integrate with Gorgias to automatically open tickets for negative reviews and disappointed customers requiring a speedy follow up. Notifications help you keep track of all interactions with your brand, ensuring a well-timed and perfectly crafted response each and every time.


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