If you search the phrase “review response templates,” Google returns about 176 million results — at least, as of mid-2021. Most of these templates are free to use, and all of them offer time-saving convenience, making it easy to see why business owners might choose this option. After all, why wouldn’t you take advantage of a resource that lets your team respond to more customers more efficiently? And are there any superior alternatives that would be more beneficial to your business?
We’re glad you asked that question, because the answer could impact your company’s current review management strategy. If you’re still relying on pre-made templates to generate responses to customer reviews, read on to learn about the hidden downsides to this strategy — and, more importantly, what your business should do instead. Our response scribes will examine the drawbacks of using generic or copy-pasted owner responses and look at some recent, revealing statistics that show the power of personalization to influence consumer decisions. We’ll also share some simple tips on crafting custom owner responses, enabling your team to immediately begin providing better customer service.
Why Respond to Reviews of Your Business?
We’re guessing that, if you’ve read this far, you’ve already made a regular practice of responding to your online reviewers. However, in case you’re still undecided about adopting (or actively maintaining) a review reply strategy, here are a few quick points to consider:
- Responding to reviews is good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which makes it easier for your business to rank higher on Google and appear in the local pack.
- Replying to negative reviews allows you to practice damage control whenever unhappy customers make complaints or accusations about your company. Not only does that help you manage your reputation, it can also help you avoid losing valuable clients or customers.
- Responding to positive reviews is a way you can advertise promotions, events, deals, or plain great customer service — without having to pay for ad space.
If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into this subject, we recommend checking out our articles on the benefits of review response and tips for using bad reviews to your advantage. Otherwise, let’s look at some recent data on trends in personalization and how it can affect consumer behavior — along with your bottom line.
Why Customize Your Responses Instead of Using Templates?
Ever notice how even niche advertisements seem to follow you across multiple devices or browsers? We live in an algorithm-based technological age where data about our behaviors, interests, and preferences are harvested every time we use an app or browse the internet — and, while that’s led to some fascinating and important ethical debates, it’s also reshaped consumer expectations, especially around personalization.
Think about your own experience using technology and interacting with businesses. From YouTube and Netflix, to Amazon and Spotify, to the ads between Instagram posts or news headlines — all of this content is uniquely personalized to your browsing behavior, invisibly influencing what you click on, view, and engage with.
But personalization goes far beyond the videos you see or the advertisements you click on — it’s becoming the bedrock of all interactions between businesses and their customers. As Forbes pointed out in one of its Editor’s Picks for 2020, “In a world where the vast majority of companies are focused on improving personalization, companies that don’t prioritize creating a tailored experience [for their customers] run the risk of getting left behind.”
To prove its point, Forbes followed up with a collection of 50 statistics demonstrating the power of personalization. You can view the full list here, or check out some of its highlights we’ve gathered below.
- – “80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences,” according to Epsilon. For reviewers (or review readers) who are still on the fence about your brand, a thoughtful custom response might be that push they need to feel comfortable trusting — and purchasing from — your business.
- – “72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging,” SmarterHQ found. If you reply to reviewers with boilerplate language, they might get frustrated with (or simply forget about) your brand altogether.
- – “71% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal,” while separate research found that “74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.” Don’t expect impersonal review responses to buck these trends, either.
- – This might be the most telling statistic of all from Forbes’ list: “42% of consumers are annoyed when content isn’t personalized,” according to CMO by Adobe. Not only do consumers expect customization — four in 10 are actually irritated when companies fail to follow through.
In a business climate where consumers place such a high value on personalization, generic responses are out of sync with what your customers want. Fortunately, there are steps your team can start taking today to increase the level of personalization in your owner responses. Here are a few tips on how.
How to Personalize Your Responses to Customer Reviews More Effectively: 3 Tips and Strategies
Data makes it easy to see the power of personalization, but harnessing that power can still be a challenge. To help make it a little easier, our review responders have compiled three tips on customizing your responses to customers, regardless of whether they leave positive, negative, or even neutral reviews.
Tip #1: Lead with a Personalized Greeting
Always use the reviewer’s name, instead of leading with generic phrases like “Dear Customer” or “Valued Reviewer.” That includes nicknames, initials, and even email handles, as long they aren’t obscene or inappropriate.
There’s one important exception to this rule. Sometimes, a reviewer’s name will display as an ID number or simply “Anonymous,” depending on what review platform or review management software you’re viewing and whether the reviewer has chosen to supply that information or remain private. In these cases, the name should be omitted entirely — you should never address a reviewer as “Anonymous” or a number in any of your owner responses.
Tip #2: Acknowledge and Address the Details
Your response should reference at least one detail from the review, and ideally more (if applicable). For example, let’s say your business receives a 5-star review that praises a member of your team for being extraordinarily helpful — or conversely, a 1-star review that complains about rude service. In both situations, it would be important to specifically call out customer service in your response, rather than simply thanking or apologizing to the commenter. Here are two “do”- and “don’t”-style examples to show you what we mean.
- – DO — “It’s great that you received friendly and helpful service from [Employee Name], who truly goes above and beyond to support our valued customers.”
- – DON’T — “It’s great that you were so satisfied with [Business Name]!”
- – DO — “We’re sorry to hear that you were disappointed by the service you received during your visit.”
- – DON’T — “We’re sorry to hear about your negative experience.”
It’s acceptable to include generic language — but it should always lead to or be accompanied by specific details elsewhere in your response. This demonstrates that you have truly read, processed, and understood the reviewer’s comment, providing an authenticity that a generic response could never accomplish. For instance, to continue building off of our 1-star example about poor service, you could say something along the following lines:
“Hi [Reviewer Name], thank you for sharing your feedback with our team. We’re truly sorry to hear about the negative experience you had during your recent visit. Please reach out to our office by calling [xxx-xxx-xxxx] or emailing [firstname.lastname@example.org], and we’ll be glad to make sure you receive the friendly, 5-star customer service our team is known for providing. We value your satisfaction with [Business Name] and look forward to assisting you, [Reviewer Name]!”
While this response begins with a generic set-up (“We’re truly sorry to hear about the negative experience you had…”), it then shifts to a specific acknowledgment of the reviewer’s complaint regarding service (“...be glad to make sure you receive the friendly, 5-star customer service our team is known for”). By touching on this detail about service, the response has been tailored to the reviewer’s comments. Had the reviewer complained about a different issue, such as poor communication or low quality workmanship, the response would need to be tailored accordingly by including a phrase such as, “We’re sorry that you were unhappy with the finished product that you received,” or, “We truly apologize for any inconvenience caused by our delay in returning your call.”
Of course, some reviews can be paragraphs long and praise or complain about numerous details. What should you do in these situations? You don’t necessarily have to acknowledge every piece of information in the review — otherwise, your response might turn into a short essay — but you should identify the core, key complaint (or compliment) and make sure it gets acknowledged in your response. You can then encourage the reviewer to follow up and contact you, so that you can ensure all of their issues or concerns are resolved.
Tip #3: Keep it Local
If you’re a regional chain, a nationwide brand, or another type of multi-location business, you may be operating anywhere from dozens to thousands of discrete facilities. You can increase the level of personalization in your response simply by mentioning the town or city where the reviewer visited your business — for instance, by including language such as, “We appreciate your rating of our [City Name] location.”
Another strategy, which is appropriate for positive reviews, is to call out location-specific perks or benefits that could help attract customers to that facility — for example, “We hope you’ll check out our [promotion / feature / event / deal] the next time you visit us in [City Name]!” If you’re running the same promotion at all of your locations, you can simply swap out city names or include language such as “at any [Business Name] location.”
Schedule a Demo of Our Custom Review Response Service
Taking the time to provide custom responses shows your customers — and your potential customers — that you sincerely value their business. The problem? You don’t have any time to spare. Your team is already slammed with projects, you’re trying to sign a major new client, your busy season is coming up, and there just isn’t room in your schedule to write personalized responses to all of your reviewers.
That’s where Shout About Us comes in. Our professional writers take care of responding so that your team doesn’t have to, empowering you to focus on the goals and priorities you want to tackle. With our experienced response scribes managing your reviews, which are automatically aggregated and securely organized in a custom dashboard, it’s never been faster or easier to engage with your customers and provide satisfying service.
Enhance the customer journey, take control of your brand’s reputation, and give your team more flexibility to focus on other tasks or projects — all without sacrificing speed or efficiency. Join Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike’s Subs, CertaPro Painters, Wyndham Garden Hotels, PostalAnnex+, and the thousands of other brands that have already made the switch to our review reply service. Schedule a demo to see it in action, or contact us online to get started.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than five years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.