The power of responses to Google reviews.


How do owners' responses affect the reputation of a business?

Because many of the top local business review platforms allow businesses to respond directly to reviews, it's important to understand the impact this form of communication can have on customer behavior and a business' reputation. By exploring customer expectations regarding the timing and tone of business response, as well as the extent to which this content can leave a good impression and lead to repeat as well as new customers, local businesses must ensure that reviews do not go unanswered.

Would you seek a business if the owner's response...

Maximise the impact of your responses by knowing what customers like to see in them.

Graph showing the percentages of those users who would not choose a local business if it did not have professional reviewer responses.

90%+ consumers are moderately or extremely influenced by owners' responses to reviews

Getting the maximum return on the time investment you make in responding to reviews depends on understanding all those individual elements that win the hearts of your customers. It is worth noting that 58% of respondents would certainly seek out a business that shows a sincere willingness to resolve problems through owner responses and a further 38% state that they are likely to do so. In relation to this, 54% would certainly seek a business that takes responsibility for a problem reported by a customer and 42% would most likely do so. Don't skip the apology during this resolution phase, because 56% of consumers might seek out your business if you say those magic words, "I'm sorry," and an additional 41% says they definitely would.

Be careful with automated or generic answers. More than half (51%) of customers say they will definitely look for a business that will write customized responses from the owner and another 43% say they are likely to do so. Finally, a timely response makes the 49% of respondents to be likely to choose a company, while an additional 45% definitely will do it.

Overall, more than 90% of customers are definitely or possibly influenced in their choice of a local business by whether the owner's responses take responsibility for reported problems, apologise for them and show a sincere willingness to resolve them. These are what you need to look out for in order to enjoy the maximum benefits from the business's online responses. Be sure to develop and implement a program to respond to all reviews in a personalized and customized manner. See the example below:

Google Online Review and how we respond in a personalised and tailored way.

See the difference between the two answers. First we have a general copy-paste answer of the style "Thank you very much for your review." In this case, the customer feels that the owner is doing a chore and is responding simply because he "has to" respond. And really ask yourself. If someone was in the business and verbally told you all this, would you respond with a dry "Thank you?" Certainly not.

In another case the answer is: "κ. Mr. Koromila, thank you very much for the time you spent and for the 5 stars with which you rated us. We are particularly pleased that you and your wife enjoyed our food. We will pass on your comments about the service to our employees. I am sure they will appreciate them. And of course we look forward to serving you again soon." Not only will the customer who left the review feel appreciated, but the thousands of potential customers who will read this review will understand your high level of professionalism and how much this business values its customers.

How soon do you expect a business to respond to your review?

Meeting customer expectations regarding the response time of reviews is something to consider. Especially as far as negative reviews are concerned.

Graph showing how soon customers expect a business to respond to their criticism.

60% customers expect a response to their review within 2 days or less

Your responses to reviews can be excellent and can convince the general public of the responsiveness of your brand, but if they don't meet the expectations of the speed of response of the customers who write them, they may feel neglected. Of the survey participants, 11% expects a response within 2 hours of writing a review - this is an extremely high bar for small businesses with minimal staff, although something that can be achieved with a automatic review management and response program. Another 21% expects a response within 24 hours and the 28% extends this timeframe to 48 hours. The latter margin is feasible for most SMEs.

The remaining 24% expect a reply within 1 week and 5% expect a reply within 1 month. Unfortunately, a significant 10% say they do not expect a response - a scenario that is not acceptable when you consider its potential impact on the impression it will leave on your brand and its online reputation.

Would you avoid a business if you saw the response of an owner who...

It is essential for good customer service to avoid any activity that distracts users from your brand.

Graph showing cases where users avoid a business when the owner's response is unprofessional.

Aggressive and unhelpful responses from owners make the public avoid these businesses

These numbers prove that the worst thing an owner can do Business when responding to reviews is to fail to provide a solution to a problem the customer mentions. More than half of customers (54%) will certainly avoid a business taking this approach and 39% will possibly avoid it. Only 7% are willing to overlook it.

Meanwhile, arrogant responses that lack humility further jeopardise the reputation of the business and the growth or even retention of customers. When an owner response accuses a client of lying, the 56% of the public might avoid the operation and the 33% would certainly avoid it. In addition, the 46% will certainly avoid a business with an owner who disagrees with customers in reviews, and the 45% may possibly avoid it. Finally, when an owner response does not apologise for a bad customer experience, 47% of consumers will definitely avoid the business, while 43% will probably avoid it.

Overall, unprofessional responses by owners can put the business at significant risk. Given this, even when a particular customer leaves a malicious review or there appears to be malice, the business owner should always try to respond in a way that does not alienate other potential customers. Remember, too, that blatantly negative reviews that violate Google's content guidelines can be reported and there is a possibility that they will be removed. Fortunately, customer-centric businesses that focus on effective complaint resolution can really shine through the owner's responses to online reviews.

Do you expect to receive a response from a business when you write a positive review?

When a local business understands customer expectations, it can not only meet them but also exceed them.

Graph showing that only 40% expects to receive a response when leaving a positive review of a business

Only 40% customers expect thanks for positive reviews

There are actually some people who do not enjoy being thanked for their good deeds, but it is a broader social norm to express appreciation when someone gives you a good comment. Right now, only 40% of customers expect to receive a response from the business when they write a positive review. The majority (60%) expect nothing and this figure deserves further consideration.

Why do 6 out of 10 customers expect to be ignored even though they have written a publicly positive review of a business? What opportunities are being missed to build meaningful relationships with your obedient customers? There is an excellent opportunity here to raise the bar by leveraging the full potential of reviews and owner responses as a two-way conversation that creates a sense of loyalty and mutual appreciation. It's something very simple that you can do and stand out.

Do you expect to receive a response from a business when you write a negative review?

Acknowledging customer dissatisfaction is the first step towards both solving any business problems and improving business reputation.

Graph showing that 64% expects to receive a response when leaving a negative review of a business

64% of customers waiting for response to negative reviews

Here we see almost the reverse of the positive review scenario: only 40% expects thanks for positive reviews, but 64% expects a response when their review is negative. As only 36% of your customers expect to be ignored when they complain online in the form of reviews, you are compromising too much when you neglect negative reviews. Imagine if you saw a very bad review of a business and there was no response from the owner. What you would think is that probably the customer is right and the business, not having anything to say, just goes silent. In another case you will think that the business simply does not value the opinion of its customers and has no desire to improve. We really don't know which of the two is worse! But see just below, how responses to negative reviews improve the image of a business!

Has a business owner's response to a negative review ever improved your opinion of the business?

If you want to find an incentive to take the time to respond to negative reviews, check out the numbers below and read the study conducted by TripAdvisor, which basically states that negative reviews help the image of the business when handled professionally!

89% of users said that after reading a professional business response to a negative review, their image of that business improved.

TripAdvisor Study
Graph showing that 67% of customers who left a negative review had an improved opinion of a brand when the owner responded well

67% of customers who left a negative review had an improved opinion of a brand when the owner responded professionally

A negative review is not the end. It is in fact the beginning, especially when the owner commits to professional complaint resolution. A staggering 67% of respondents say that after writing a negative review, the way the owner responded improved their opinion of the company. However, 33% categorically state that this has never happened to them. Opportunity knocks here! And of course no one expects a business to have no negative reviews. Remember in a previous article that a review which has an average rating of 5 stars seems suspicious to users.

If an owner's response solved a problem you were facing, would you give the company a second chance?

Gain confidence in the power of the local business to improve reputation through owner responses to negative reviews.

Graph showing that 62% of users who left a negative review would give it a second chance if the company solved the reported problem,.

The 62% of negative reviewers would give a local business a second chance if the owner's response solved their problem

Complaint resolution auditing is all about regaining the trust of the customer (and the review-reading public) by correcting a reported complaint. It's truly fantastic that 62% of former dissatisfied customers are ready to forgive our mistakes if resolution occurs in the form of an excellent owner response to their review. An additional 28% states that they may try the business again after their problems are addressed. Only 10% consider themselves to be permanently lost when a first experience was poor.

Would you update your low or negative review if a business did an excellent job in solving your problem?

Find out how willing customers are to modify reviews when their problems are resolved.

Graph showing that 63% would modify its negative review of a local business if it solved the problem mentioned in the review.

63% customers will update their negative review or rating if the owner's response resolves the problem they encountered

Not only can a proper owner response win back a disgruntled customer and significantly influence public opinion of your brand, but 63% of customers who have reviewed you negatively are willing to amend their review, increasing the rating they originally gave you if you resolve their complaint. A further 27% may do so and only 10% says they won't.

Considering all these statistics about the power of owner responsiveness to solve problems, the ability to turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal customer and improve reputation, remember the next time you receive a negative review that the chances of turning it into a positive one are extremely likely.


From the process of surveying customers and analyzing their responses, it can be concluded that local business reviews are your vehicle to success in terms of increasing your customer base, as 96% of users rely to a lesser or greater extent on online business reviews. So both reviews and owner responses are tools that work with trust, and trust can be gained or lost based on the management you do.

Customers are primarily motivated by a desire to share their experiences, are usually willing to leave feedback when asked, and are particularly forgiving when an initial negative experience is improved by a timely response from the owner that resolves the reported problems. Negative reviews should be viewed as a golden opportunity for the business to improve on issues that can be resolved to immediately improve customer satisfaction. Owner responses are an incredibly powerful customer service tool when answered with a determination to win back customers who take the time to voice their complaints.

Source: Moz

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