Responding to customer reviews is no longer a choice, but a necessity today. Responses are part of a brand’s communication strategy. They can bring you positive results as much as your different marketing actions.
In this article we will list all the reasons (and studies behind) why customer review responses impact sales.
Many companies mistakenly think that their reputation is only built through the traditional channels and their website. However, times have changed, especially with the emergence of customer review sites.
Nowadays, your e-reputation also depends on what customers say and the star rating they gave about your business on social media, Amazon, Google, TripAdvisor, Booking, Yelp, or other review platforms.
The answers left are also of paramount importance.
They will serve to highlight a high-quality image and reassure your prospects and customers. It will impact consumer decision in his decision-making process.
In case of an eCommerce website, the online consumer reviews are essential in the digital marketing communication strategy.
The impact of online review response is clear when refering to product sales especially for new products.
Customers love personal recommendation in the product information when they do online shopping.
Reading product reviews is part of our purchase behavior when shopping in any product categories.
Google review takes into account the number of reviews your business has accumulated as well as your average score to rank you in the search results.
Reviews carry more weight when they are published on reputable platforms such as Trustpilot, Yelp TripAdvisor or Skeepers (Avis Vérifiés).
Responding to your reviews has a greater impact on buying decision. It’s a way to encourage customers to share their experience every time they buy from you. (Word-of-mouth)
User reviews responses also improve your site’s ranking on review platforms and search engines. In fact, you can add keywords related to your business sector. It will help you rank higher on Google search results. It’s an easy ranking optimization.
So yes, online customer reviews responses has a positive effect on your business ranking on Google, TripAdvisor and all other sites.
Thanks to an empirical investigation done by Harvard Business Review we have a better idea about the review response impact on company’s sales.
Extract : “we examined tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor, which uses a review scale from 1 (terrible) to 5 (excellent). On TripAdvisor, management responses are common: Roughly one-third of reviews receive a response, and nearly half of all hotels respond to reviews.
While these gains may seem modest, TripAdvisor rounds average ratings to the nearest half star: A hotel with a rating of 4.26 stars will be rounded up to a 4.5, while a hotel with 4.24 stars will be rounded down to a 4. Therefore, even small changes can have a significant impact on consumers’ perceptions. Approximately one-third of the hotels we studied increased their rounded ratings by half a star or more within six months of their first management response.”
Read the study findings here : "Replying to Customer Reviews Results in Better Ratings"
Second extract from the an empirical investigation done by Harvard Business Review :
“Digging deeper, we wanted to understand why hotels get more and better reviews when they start responding. For example, if managers are more likely to respond when hotels renovate, we may associate better ratings with responses when they are actually the direct result of improved hotel quality.
To establish a causal link between responses and improved ratings, we exploited the fact that although nearly all hotels in our data were reviewed on both TripAdvisor and Expedia, the vast majority of them responded only to their TripAdvisor reviews. This allowed us to use Expedia ratings as a control group.
What we found is that when hotels started responding on TripAdvisor, their TripAdvisor ratings went up, but their Expedia ratings remained unchanged.
If hotels had made improvements — unobserved to us — at the time they started responding, we would have expected to see Expedia ratings improve as well.”
Read the study findings here : "Replying to Customer Reviews Results in Better Ratings"
A company that listens to its customers’ experiences is more likely to gain their trust and therefore generate sales. Responding to customer reviews also helps to highlight your strengths that set you apart from your competitors.
Some of them have probably wondered about the real benefits of these reviews and the importance of an appropriate management policy. But others are still ignoring them and have no idea of the impact that reviews can have on their revenue.
An empirical study made by Uberall shows a particularly low response rate among French companies.
And yet, with more involvement, they could increase their conversion rate by 80% to 120%.
The study calls “conversion” all the actions carried out on a Google MyBusiness page (call, website visit and itinerary)
The result of the study conducted by Uberall provides an answer to these questions. It shows that managing customer reviews is crucial if you want to improve your turnover and boost your growth. This is because reviews, and the way you handle them, influence consumer engagement. As a result, they also influence the conversion rate.
To explain this relationship, it is first of all important to know that customers take into account the reviews left by their peers when making a purchase decision. But that is not all. They also take into consideration the responsiveness of the brand and the quality of its responses.
As much as a positive review, the proper handling of a negative review can thus have a significant impact on a customer’s purchase decision. For example, it was highlighted in this study that brands that handle 30% of their reviews have twice as many interactions with their customers as those that handle 10% of the comments left online.
This translates into 80% more conversions by increasing the number of reviews processed from 10% to 30%.
But are companies aware of the impact that managing customer reviews can have?
According to the same study, few organisations are really involved in the handling of customer reviews. Uberall’s analysis focused on four countries: France, the UK, Germany and the US.
The most active companies are in the USA. Indeed, the response rate is 22.6% for American companies. France, on the other hand, comes last in the ranking, with a response rate of 7%.
As a result, French companies also have a lower conversion rate than the other countries analysed. The average conversion rate for French merchants is 2.6%, while the US has a record 5.5%, and the UK 3.1%.
Germany is an exception, with a conversion rate of 1.5%, despite a higher response rate to notices than in France.
Furthermore, if we look at the case of France, the study shows that small businesses are particularly active online. Indeed, the response rate is 28% for them, compared to a rate of less than 10% for large and medium-sized companies.
Also, in the local market, small businesses may have an edge over larger companies. Indeed, consumers tend to choose local companies. At the same time, they are attentive to their responsiveness to customer feedback.
In any case, both large and small businesses now have the opportunity to improve their brand awareness and revenues. The key to doing so has been given to them by this Uberall study: good management of e-reputation, and particularly of customer reviews. Moreover, if they do not have the time or resources, they can entrust the processing of customer reviews to agencies specialising in e-reputation management.
In summary, transparency is therefore a key issue for customers. This is why they are particularly interested in the opinions of their peers.
Responding to online reviews is a good start. In this case, make sure you provide complete and accurate information to your customers. Your website or online directories can also be used to provide information, and support the information already highlighted on review sites.
However, make sure that you only put forward information that reflects reality, regardless of the medium used. The more clear and accurate information you share, the fewer dissatisfied customers you will have.
The Uberall study attempts to prove the correlation between user engagement on a Google Profile page and ratings.
Small and medium-sized businesses that went from 3.5/5 to 3.7/5 had the highest increase in interactions (directions, calls and site visits)
The “global” companies that went from 4.3/5 to 4.4/5 exceeded the conversion of SMEs achieving the same performance. It is also by passing this milestone that global companies double their engagement.
Today, customer reviews are everywhere and have a huge influence on customers or potential customers. But what is their impact on turnover?
SoLike has carried out by SoLike a “qualitative” survey on 101 professionals with the aim of showing the consequences of customer reviews on turnover. This information helps to understand how and why it is necessary to address e-reputation.
Following the considerable increase in the number of reviews in recent years, the concern for a controlled e-reputation has emerged. The survey brings together the information needed to understand and manage customer reviews. The results show that 93% of respondents believe that customer reviews have an impact on their turnover. More importantly, 85% of respondents said that responding to customer reviews has a positive impact on their turnover. These figures can be translated into the fact that more and more people refer to customer reviews these days. Indeed, a large number of negative reviews without justified arguments on your part can lead to a drop in the number of visitors to your establishment due to online reputation and therefore a drop in turnover.
The results show that about 1 in 2 establishments receive more than 40 customer reviews per month. This figure clearly shows that customer reviews are on the rise and this is just the beginning. Today, consumers need to be reassured and accompanied in their purchasing decisions. To do this, they will read and refer to reviews left by former customers. However, our study also shows that 42% of establishments do not respond to all their customer reviews. This figure can be explained in different ways. Often, companies do not have enough time or do not want to do so. It is also possible that they do not realise the importance and impact of the reviews, but especially the responses.
The study shows that one in three people do not have a predefined response strategy for their customer reviews. Many companies respond as they see fit, because they don’t know how to do it and lack knowledge about how to respond. Obviously, the ideal is to follow predefined and structured response rules. A good response to a customer review should be as personalised as possible and obviously in line with the company’s values. We also note that respondents responding to their reviews spend an average of 1 hour per week on them. However, they feel that they do not spend enough time on it. The ideal time for them would be 3 hours per week. Indeed, the response time will vary according to the number of reviews. Nevertheless, in order to produce personalised, attractive and structured responses, it is necessary to spend a certain amount of time.
“This study clearly shows the power of customer reviews and the impact they have on businesses. Unfortunately, many managers are still neglecting them and this risks, in the long run, to damage them. This is why, to conclude, I would say that today it has become imperative to control customer satisfaction and this starts by responding to one’s customer reviews” comments Thibaut Seillier, Founder @SoLike.