February 19

by Vossey

It’s the age of digital empowerment. Customers are much more likely to share good and bad experiences with your business. Now many managers have taken to responding to customer reviews. Managers do this to both:

  • Minimise the damage that unhappy customers can do with a bad review.
  • And thank customers for posting positive reviews.

But we are all pushed for time. So the question many local business owners ask is “are my review responses helping at all”?

This article from The Harvard Business Review answers that question.

The short summary is that it’s worth the time and effort for you to respond to good reviews and bad reviews.

What the good people at the HBR did was compare the reviews from TripAdvisor and Expedia.  This is a good case study because many managers on TripAdvisor have taken to responding to reviews about customer experience with their hotel. That’s not the case so much on Expedia where the business is less likely to respond.

What they found was when a hotel started responding to reviews several things happened

  1. They got on average 12% more reviews
  2. And there is an increase in ratings by a small amount (0.21 stars).

The increase in ratings is not as useless as it seems because of the rounding process used by the review sites. In fact, about, one-third of the hotels who started responding to ratings increase their rounded star ratings by half a star within six months.

If you want to find out the detail of the methodology you can read the article. And while we really don’t need to know why this happens up the HBR say it’s like when you’re at a restaurant and someone at your table is complaining about the food or the service.

They will moan to the rest of the people on the table. But more often than not they won’t raise it with the manager or the chef when they do their rounds to ask everybody if everything’s ok.

Basically, that person likes to grizzle but doesn’t want to actually raise it with the manager.

So the HBR thinks that once the reviewer notices a manager is responding to reviews, they choose not to leave a negative review to avoid an online interaction with the manager. Even though it’s online – the interaction is a permanent record of the conversation as the business owner takes the time to respond publicly.

The other change that the HBR analysis reported was that people not as likely to leave short customer feedback “like terrible service”. Instead, they were much more likely to leave longer reviews more positive feedback.

The presence of review platforms like Google, Facebook, other social media, and Yelp Reviews may make you feel out of control. Yet you can have some impact by responding to reviews. Responding to reviews increases the number of reviews you get and the review ratings.

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