As an educator or academic service provider, you play a direct role in shaping the minds, careers, and futures of the next generation. That’s a noble mission for your business to pursue — but it also places you under intense pressure, high expectations, and close scrutiny. After all, parents want nothing but the best of the best for their children, which means educational services are held to some of the toughest standards possible by consumers. Even if you provide award-winning service, the reality of the industry is that you’ll eventually receive a negative review from an upset or disappointed parent.
Fortunately, with a bit of preparation, you’ll be ready to turn a negative review into a business opportunity. By responding thoughtfully to bad ratings or reviews, not only can your tutoring service rebuild trust and rehabilitate damaged relationships, it can also attract new clients — a major priority for an industry that’s been so heavily impacted by COVID-19.
However, your homework isn’t finished yet. In addition to monitoring and managing your negative reviews, it’s equally critical to have a cohesive review response strategy in place for your positive and even neutral reviews, as we explored last week in our blog. This week, not only will we teach you some useful strategies for responding to negative reviews from parents, guardians, and family members — we’ll also share tips on how to handle positive (or ambivalent) reviews, with a look into why it matters and how it affects your business.
How Online Reviews and Owner Responses Impact Your Test Prep or Tutoring Business
As BrightLocal pointed out in its 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey, “Reviews play a key role in helping consumers to feel able to trust a business” — an assessment the survey supports with ample data, such as its finding that “92% of consumers [are] less likely to use a business” with negative reviews. The findings were nearly identical when consumers were asked about positive reviews, with a slightly higher proportion — about 94% — reporting that good reviews would increase their likelihood of trying a particular brand. Critically, the same survey also revealed that “79% of consumers,” or about four in five people, “say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family.”
This has profound implications for the tutoring and test prep industry, whose consumer base, even prior to the COVID-driven surge in e-learning, was already uniquely tech-savvy. As the Danish consumer review website Trustpilot, which publishes approximately 1 million reviews from around the globe each month, pointed out in a report on the role of consumer trust in online education and e-learning, “Since most…education companies deliver an online experience, potential customers…are inherently tech-savvy and know to research potential e-learning companies, which often includes seeking out third-party validation and social proof like online reviews” (italics our emphasis). The report also found that “87% of e-learners” rated a service provider’s reputation as being “very or moderately important,” whereas “only 1% said reputation was not at all important to them.”
Whether learning takes place online, in person, or a combination of both, all families expect tutors and teachers to deliver a top-quality education for their children — and in a digital age, what better way to make that determination than by browsing reviews of educational services? As BrightLocal’s most recent survey showed, 93% of consumers “searched for local businesses online in 2020,” an increase from 90% just one year earlier.
But it’s not just the reviews they’re reading: it’s the owners’ responses, too, which is where businesses need to get engaged and become interactive. According to BrightLocal, among the respondents who “read online reviews for local businesses,” a whopping “96% also read businesses’ responses to their reviews,” including 40% who “‘always’ read the [owner] responses.”
With such a large captive audience of review readers, every response is a great opportunity to provide friendly service, project a positive image, and of course, gain useful insights about real customers’ perceptions of and experiences with your brand — not to mention boost your local rankings on Google. On the other hand, every non-response is a wasted opportunity that gives a potential advantage to your competitors.
Don’t allow an underdeveloped or inconsistent review reply strategy to hamper the growth of your educational business in 2021. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make responding to online reviews a priority. Here are 14 tips and strategies to help you accomplish that mission more successfully.
14 Tips and Strategies for Responding to Reviews of Your Tutoring, Teaching, or Test Prep Company
Whether you’re dealing with a positive, negative, or neutral review of your educational business, the tips below will help you steer clear of mistakes and incorporate best practices into your response. Here are 14 “do’s and don’ts” to guide you.
- DON’T: Repeat identical sentences or use the same structure in every response.
- DON’T: Become defensive, argumentative, sarcastic, or snarky in your response — even if the review is unfair or inaccurate.
- DON’T: Submit a generic reply that doesn’t address the reviewer’s comments.
- DON’T: Devote more of your response to apologizing than to offering steps toward a resolution (if the review or rating was negative).
- DON’T: Forget to provide the reviewer with contact information, where appropriate.
- DON’T: Forget to thank the reviewer for sharing their feedback, even if their rating or comments were negative.
- DON’T: Wait more than 24 hours to respond.
- DO: Use the reviewer’s name, if it has been provided.
- DO: Feel free to be casual and pepper in one or two friendly exclamation points, if appropriate to the review.
- DO: Double-check your responses to make sure they’re grammatically correct and free of typos.
- DO: Encourage the reviewer to come back again, share additional comments, and/or contact you for assistance, depending on the situation.
- DO: Show that you were listening by referencing the reviewer’s complaints or compliments in your response.
- DO: Express gratitude for the rating or review, even if it contains negative comments.
- DO: Promote deals, discounts, and other great programs or features your customers should know about, where appropriate to the tone of the original review.
Want more pointers on responding to customer reviews effectively? You might be interested in our review reply tips for multi-location businesses, some of Harvard’s recommendations for dealing with negative reviews, or our in-depth breakdowns of how to handle 5-star ratings and 1-star ratings. We update our blog with fresh content nearly every week, so be sure to check back for more tips in the future. This May, we’re also launching a series of in-depth guides for business owners, which will answer all of your most frequently asked questions about monitoring and responding to reviews.
Reputation Management and Review Response Services for Academic and Educational Businesses
Serving medium to large multi-location brands in addition to agencies and resellers, Shout About Us provides flexible and innovative solutions to all of your online reputation management challenges. Whether you need a secure custom review management system that allows you to effortlessly monitor reviews and track key metrics, a review reply service that captures the voice of your brand, or a nimble hybrid solution that can evolve with your company’s needs, we put the tools in your hands while providing you with 24/7 support.
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.