Yep, it’s that time of year again: the holiday season is already here. And while that might mean vacation time for some, your team is busier than ever getting ready to close out the year.
We know that things can get a little chaotic during the holiday surge, especially if you’re in an industry like retail or transportation. But while you’re stocking up on inventory and planning out holiday deals and specials, don’t lose focus on your online reviews — or, even more critically, on the way your business is responding to them.
While they might seem like a low priority during the holiday rush, online reviews (and your company’s responses) can actually be leveraged in multiple ways to give your business an end-of-year boost. Read on to learn six tips for managing and responding to your reviews successfully as we head into the holidays and 2023, a topic you can read more about over at Yelp’s blog.
6 Tips to Improve Your Responses to Reviews for the Holiday Season and 2023
With roughly 178 million monthly visitors, Yelp is one of the largest review platforms for restaurants, hotels, and other types of businesses — not to mention colleges, government services, and even religious organizations. This enormous popularity makes Yelp one of the three major platforms your business needs to be listed on, alongside Facebook and Google Business Profile. (If you don’t already have a profile on Yelp, you can start the process of claiming and setting up your business here.)
Considering the platform’s massive relevance and significance in the world of online reviews, it’s worth paying attention to Yelp’s suggested “do’s” and “don’ts” for dealing with customer comments and ratings — and what better time to integrate these tips into your strategy than right now, as you gear up for the holidays and new year? You can also find plenty of additional review response tips and guides in our reputation management blog, which we’ll share throughout this post to help you continue learning.
For now, let’s start with three definite “don’ts” — then, we’ll look at some helpful “do’s” that Yelp and our team recommend instead.
3 Review Response “Don’ts”
- Don’t stress about an imperfect star rating. It’s human nature to always reach for that perfect 5-star rating — but actually, the data tells us that consumers care less about star ratings and more about detailed text (which explains why some platforms, including Yelp, don’t even allow star ratings that are unaccompanied by comments). Plus, other research has shown that some consumers are actually suspicious of perfect 5-star ratings, and most tend to look for businesses in the 3.5-star to 4.5-star range.
- Don’t ignore your positive reviews. Some brands make the mistake of treating reviews like fires that need to be extinguished, responding only to the worst ratings and most negative comments they receive. However, as Yelp’s blog explains, this strategy can create a perception that your business is in crisis mode or “triage mode” — not exactly the best way to fill consumers with confidence in your product. If you want to encourage repeat business, it’s also poor customer service to ignore reviewers who have positively reviewed your brand — especially if they took the time to leave a detailed comment about their experience.
- Don’t copy and paste your responses. Data indicates that many consumers enjoy — and expect — a high degree of personalization. Therefore, Yelp recommends avoiding copied and pasted replies and following the personalization strategy below instead.
What You Should Do Instead
- Do ask for authentic reviews — the simple way. An automated review generation service makes this process easy for your team, enabling you to seamlessly integrate with your CRM or POS to ensure your review requests are sent out automatically.
- Do respond to all reviews you receive. Whether they’re positive, negative, or even totally neutral, all of your reviews are equally deserving of a response. Yelp’s blog addresses this by pointing out that “review engagement and review response… [is] not just about the person who wrote that review — it’s about every other person who’s going to read reviews of your business. You’re forming your reputation as a business with every response that you publish.”
- Do customize your responses to each reviewer. As Yelp acknowledges, it’s alright to build on a generalized template — but within it, you should incorporate details that are specific to the individual reviewer you are responding to (such as a complaint about your valet service, or praise for one of your maintenance workers). This shows that you’re actively listening to customer feedback — and, in the case of a negative experience, that you can be counted on to provide prompt follow-up support. Learn more about the power of personalization in 2022 and beyond.
Why Should You Follow These Review Reply Tips?
We know that, as you browse these tips, you might be wondering: Why? Why is this important to my business, and how is my bottom line affected? Here are three key ways that a review response strategy benefits your brand and drives growth.
#1: You’ll Save Time and Money
As you prepare for the holiday surge and the start of the new year, now is the perfect time to evaluate the strengths — and weaknesses — of your business and how they could be addressed for a more profitable 2023. But no matter what time of year it is, one of the best ways to take your company’s pulse and optimize your strategy is to monitor your online reviews.
Like focus groups and customer surveys, online reviews provide you with free yet invaluable insights from real consumers, which you can act on to improve your product or service and drive more interest toward your brand. For example, there may be repeated complaints about a specific problem, such as “slow service” or “rude front desk,” that show you where to focus your energy and allocate your resources. This helps ensure that serious issues are addressed promptly, while preventing you from wasting time and money on initiatives that consumers don’t actually care about.
#2: You’ll Increase Your Brand Visibility
There are numerous factors that go into search engine optimization (SEO), from the speed and security of your website to whether it’s mobile-friendly. While some of these factors are out of your control (such as your website’s age), many others can be optimized to help improve your rankings and make your brand more visible to potential customers. For example, you can improve your SEO by publishing more content, building quality backlinks, creating a Google Business Profile (GBP) — and responding to your reviews.
According to Google Support, which offers tips on improving your local ranking, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.” Crucially, Google also recommends the following: “Respond to reviews that users leave about your business. When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.”
#3: You’ll Retain More Customers
Losing some of your customers is a simple reality of business — but it’s also an expensive one. However, there’s good news: responding to your negative reviews is a low-cost way to provide unhappy customers with precisely the sort of personalized, non-AI customer support that, as data shows, most consumers hope for after something goes seriously wrong. In other words, responding to reviews is an ideal way to engage with your customers and minimize the number who leave your business due to a negative experience.
From making your business easier to find, to reducing your customer churn rate, to learning what your customers care about and value the most, online review management offers a multitude of benefits for your brand. You can reap these benefits by incorporating the tips we’ve shared in this article, like writing personalized responses and replying to every rater and commenter.
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What if, with everything else going on, you simply don’t have time to focus on review management this holiday season? No problem: let our experienced team of 24-hour response scribes handle the writing for you. Our review response service enables your team to supply around-the-clock, personalized replies to every rating and comment — without ever having to type a sentence.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.