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Both positive reviews and negative reviews have become increasingly important for consumers and brands alike, and recent research reinforces this. Not only do 91% of consumers ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, but consumers read an average of ten online reviews before they say they’re able to trust a business. Additionally, search engines have adopted reviews as a crucial part of their algorithms for determining how results are ranked. In fact, online reviews account for more than 15% of how Google ranks results.  

With all these eyes on the number of stars, and with 89% of consumers reading businesses’ responses to online reviews, it’s critical for brands to pay attention and respond to reviews quickly, thoughtfully, and authentically. Regardless of whether a review is positive or negative, responding to reviews creates an opportunity to deepen a brand’s connection not only with existing customers but with future customers too.

Many are focused on how to respond to negative reviews, but what about positive reviews? Is it really necessary to respond even when you have a happy customer? The answer is a resounding “yes” (most of the time)! It’s a golden opportunity to build relationships with existing customers who took the time to offer feedback and to show potential customers that you’re actively listening and care about your brand’s reputation. It also reinforces the quality of your brand to both retailers and search engines.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when you’re responding to positive reviews.

Be personal and authentic

When it comes to engaging with brands online, consumers appreciate authenticity. Take the time to show them the “human” behind your brand by acknowledging them by their name or nickname. And above all, avoid copying and pasting canned “thank yous,” which make you look more robot than human. Find alternate ways to mix it up.

“Thanks for taking the time to share your positive experience with us, Albert…”

“We so appreciate serving customers like you, Sheila. Thank you for the review…”

Let some 5-star reviews stand on their own

While it’s beneficial to your brand’s visibility and search ranking to respond to glowing reviews in a timely and authentic way, there’s no need to respond to every 5-star review. This will clutter your feed and may have the unintended effect of turning readers off. When you do choose to respond to a 5-star review, be as concise, personal, and genuine as possible.

 “Thanks for your kind words, James. We’re so happy to hear you love the [product].”

Avoid excessive upselling or marketing

It’s tempting to want to sell more to an already satisfied customer, but consumers can see through this tactic and may find it presumptuous or greedy. Instead, focus on what made the customer happy in the first place.

“Tina, thanks so much for your feedback and for taking the time to share the photo. It looks like your project turned out great!”

Remember your “other” audience

A good rule of thumb is to remember that every response to a review—whether positive or negative—will be seen by many others beyond the person who originally posted it. Always ask yourself: “Is my response providing value to this customer and future customers reading my answer?” In addition, consider that retailers are also keeping tabs on the way the brands they sell respond to customers – because they often have limited shelf space, they factor your responses (or lack thereof) into their inventory decisions.

“Thanks for the positive feedback, Alicia. We here at [brand] have made customer satisfaction our top priority, and we appreciate all of our fans.”

Keep an eye out for valuable feedback

Be a careful reader. Like negative reviews, positive reviews often contain hidden information that can help you further improve your product or service or validate improvements you’ve already made. Bonus: Customers who are happy with their purchase and also demonstrate willingness to offer feedback may make ideal candidates for a sampling campaign.

“So glad you love your new [product], Tom. Feedback from customers like you made this possible. Thanks for sharing your review.”

Case in point: Lemi Shine, maker of safe household cleaning products, leverages the content in their reviews to uncover improvement opportunities before launching new products. “We regularly comb through reviews, share them internally, and make modifications to the messaging or tweak the product formulation in response to issues or needs. Occasionally, we find some hidden gems,” says Josh Emshoff, associate brand manager at Lemi Shine.

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Many brands believe the sky is falling when receiving a negative review and create an operationalized process to close the loop with consumers, but don’t pay much attention to the positive reviews. There is just as much value in a 4 or 5 star review, and brands should actively rally around the opportunity to turn a happy customer into (not only) a repeat customer but also a brand advocate.

For more guidance on responding to reviews—both positive and negative—download the e-book, “Turning customer feedback into a conversation.”

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