Replying to online reviews: All your questions answered
Welcome to our first #FAQFriday! This will be an ongoing series where we answer commonly asked questions about reviews, Trustpilot, marketing, and more! In this article, Tayanna Bigatti, our Global Customer Marketing Manager interviews a client on how to respond to online reviews.
Customer feedback helps consumers make the right decision when they shop online and helps new consumers decide whether or not they want to engage with a business. So it’s only natural for retailers to worry about the negative impact online reviews could potentially have. But whether you’re actively collecting reviews or not, customers are likely to leave feedback anyway.
68% of shoppers trust businesses more when they see both good and bad reviews. Why? Well, consumers understand that businesses can’t get 100% positive reviews so a ‘perfect’ business might be looked upon with a sense of distrust.
In a Trustpilot study, we found that 69% of shoppers who trust online reviews, take a purchasing action after reading reviews alone. This highlights how significant the customer experience is and how relevant responses to reviews are. An inherent benefit that some businesses often overlook, is that responses are noticed by prospective customers, not just the customer who wrote the review. If a potential customer sees a negative review, they might be hesitant to work with you, whereas if they see a negative review plus a thoughtful response, they can make a balanced and informed decision about choosing your company.
On November 27th we held a webinar, “When Bad Reviews Happen: Best Practices for Responding to and Reporting Reviews”, that discussed how to respond to both positive and negative reviews and the potential benefits of responding to customer all customer feedback. As part of our research for this webinar, we reached out one of our own customers, Linnworks, who we saw place great effort in responding to every positive and negative review.
We’ve interviewed Klaas Schippers, Customer Experience Manager at Linnworks LTD and Trustpilot customer, to understand how they handle customer feedback, and what strategy they’ve established when it comes to responding to reviews.
Trustpilot - Responding to both negative and positive reviews is something we recommend to our customers, however many focus only on responding to unhappy customers. Why did you decide to respond to both negative and positive reviews as part of your responding strategy?
Klaas Schippers - Everyone who posts a review of our company online is an advocate of our product and services, whilst the negative reviewers require critical help with their user experience. It is good to contact them as soon as possible, and also take the time to thank positive reviewers for their effort and support. They help by spreading invaluable word-of-mouth so thanking them is the least that can be done in return.
TP - How have you benefited from answering happy customers? And, how have you benefited from answering unhappy customers?
KS - When you reply to a review, the reviewer gets an e-mail. By doing this quickly after the customer has written the review, it increases the possibility engaging with the customer and it shows that you are actively listening. Because we typically reply within the hour we get the chance to engage with our customers very quickly and learn more about the reasons behind the review. There is usually a lot more to a review then in the review itself, so getting the chance to speak to the customer about it helps both us and the customer. As a positive extra, we have seen customers who left negative reviews change them into positive reviews after we contacted them and helped them out!
TP - What have you learned from listening to both happy and unhappy customers? Has receiving this feedback help you improve your service?
KS - We learn what people appreciate about our product and services and also what they would like to see better. Sometimes negative reviews are written in very harsh language, but when you engage with them via a telephone-call, you often hear a different story. When you show genuine empathy, people soften up, get less emotional and allow you to go into whatever issue they have into much more detail. We also get halfway-positive reviews, where people are happy with our software but would like a certain feature to be added. We have been running a special 'UserVoice' section on the public forum where customers can leave those requests and vote for feature requests they would like to see.
TP - You manage to answer every customer with a genuine response that is specific to their issues. How do you internally handle all these reviews coming in and answer them so quickly?
KS - Whenever a review is written on our Trustpilot page, both an email gets sent to my inbox and a message gets sent to a special Slack channel we have for reviews. Since we have implemented this, we have never failed to react to a review. In the end, what a person that writes a review online wants is to be heard, we hear them!
TP - What best practices or 'rule of thumb' have you set for responding to negative reviews?
KS - Take every negative review seriously, apologize even if it might not directly be your own fault, offer assistance or a solution if possible, and let the reviewer know you are on their side. A happy customer is the ultimate goal!
TP - Do you have any advice you could offer other companies when it comes to responding to reviews?
KS - Just try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes by thinking: 'If I would have written this review, what would I like to have as an answer?' Not all cases are solvable and there will be unhappy customers from time to time but it is good to show to those customers (and to others who might read their reviews) that you care about their user experience.
It’s impossible to please everyone, and even with the greatest customer service, some shoppers might still leave negative feedback. Responding to feedback and showing your commitment to both satisfied and frustrated customers is what will make the difference.
We encourage businesses to take every review as an opportunity to improve their customer experience, service, and brand image. If you’d like to learn more about how to handle negative reviews, check out our guide “Five ways businesses can handle bad reviews”.
To learn more about our customer review management software, request a demo below with one of our review experts today.