How to Respond to a +/- Online Customer Review?

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Parag Utekar
Student (MBA), India

How to Respond to a +/- Online Customer Review?

🔥NEW Having some framework or guideline on how to respond to online reviews is important for businesses across industries, since approximately 89% of consumers tend to read/consult online reviews.
- How should a public relations or customer services rep respond to positive and negative reviews?
- How does the response time impact the online reputation of the company?
- Should the response time be different for positive and negative reviews?
By analyzing lots of online reviews, Kerry et al. offer 5 principles for responding to customer reviews:
  • ADDRESS A POSITIVE ONLINE REVIEW BY PROVIDING A GENERIC, SHORT RESPONSE. Based on a study, it was found that managers need to careful even with the positive reviews. A simple "Thank you" has only a small impact, and a more customized response is quickly perceived as promotional and thus disingenuous, which may negatively affect following reviews.
  • DELAY RESPONSES FOR POSITIVE REVIEWS. Managers should delay their responses to positive reviews, till the time the positive review reaches the second page of reviewThis will bury the reaction behind newer reviews. By doing so, managers obtain positive effects by thanking a reviewer, without negatively influencing future reviews.
  • RESPOND TO ALL NEGATIVE ONLINE REVIEWS. Negative online reviews obviously have a negative impact on future buying decisions of readers. To reduce that damaging effect companies should make responding to negative reviews into a primary content management strategy. A good response to a negative review might prevent a subsequent negative review.
  • ADDRESS ANY NEGATIVE ONLINE REVIEW BY PROVIDING A TAILORED SOLUTION TO THE SPECIFIC COMPLAINT. Managers should customize their answer to each negative review. Specifically, companies must communicate the actions undertaken to rectify the problem. In this way they can appease an unsatisfied customer and show a future reviewer that the organization at least cares about their complaints and issues.
  • RESPOND QUICKLY TO ALL NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Manager's response to a negative review must be done timely so that the manager's response is visible to future reviewers, so they see that the company is dedicated to handling and resolving their complaints promptly.
I think the 5 ideas are important in Operational CRM and especially for customer-oriented organizations, as they not only improve the corporate reputation, but also limit potential damage due to this recent form of word of mouth. The 5 tips provide a useful guideline for service recovery efforts, which might help mitigate negative reviews and increase the benefits of positive reviews.

⇒ Do you have any further tips on dealing with online customer reviews?

Source: Dr. Kerry T. Manis, Dr. Yang Wang and Dr. Alexander Chaudhry, "5 Principles for Responding to Customer Reviews" (2020), HBR.

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