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The Response Factor


Many companies still underestimate the powerful effect of their online reputation on their brand image. Many customers leave reviews about products, services, and companies as a whole on independent review sites like, trip, and Google Reviews. Studies suggest that responding to both positive and (especially) negative feedback on consumer review sites results in higher levels of customer loyalty; so why are so many companies ignoring their digital reputation?

A recent study published by Mediapost showed that 18% of those who post negative reviews about a company became loyal customers after receiving a reply from the company in question. Even more staggering, 70% of those who received a reply retracted their negative review after receiving a reply. What is unmeasurable is the effect that the removal of these negative reviews has on potential customers.

What potential customers see is where the true value of responding to public online complaints lies. It has long been common knowledge that potential customers will often make decisions based on what they read in online reviews. When someone sees an unanswered (and presumably ignored) complaint on a popular review site the message they receive is that the company is impersonal, strictly a ‘business’, and possibly even selling a low quality product. An unanswered negative complaint may deter a potential customer from making a purchase. Since these reviews may be seen hundreds or thousands of times that’s a lot of lost business.

It should be a no brainier: If a customer is complaining about your company in a public (and largely permanent setting) than it is in the company’s best interest to respond. The reality is, a broadcasted brand promise is not nearly as powerful as social opinion. To get started combating negative customer reviews begin monitoring the most popular review sites for your industry. Are you in tourism? Go to trip advisor. A domestic or personal service? Check out your reputation on Angie’s List. Do you sell a tangible or digital product? Take a look at pissedconsumer. There’s little you can do about complaints that were posted a longtime ago but start addressing everything that was posted in the last month or so. Engage all new complaints quickly and constructively. Don’t argue, don’t make excuses. Offer an apology and then describe how the issue can be resolved with the minimum amount of pain to the consumer.

Also, don’t forget to check out what’s being said about you on social sites like Twitter and Facebook. Social media may seem like old hat to most of us these days but many companies don’t have a social alert system in place. Use Hootsuite to set up some keyword alerts for your business. Hootsuite will compile all related posts into a neat little column for you. Finally, don’t forget to respond to particularly positive reviews as well. Only responding to negative reviews may make you seem like you’re just making excuses.

You should start to see results within a few months after setting up this kind of reputation management program. Good luck!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. GREAT article! I’m a firm believer that brands are now in the hand’s of consumers…or where their fingertips hit the keyboard.

    Guy Borgford

    July 20, 2011

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