While consumers are the ones posting online customer reviews, brands are closely monitoring what’s being said. But should they actually respond to reviews? Most of us think they should—but are brands well served to do so?
New research from location marketing specialists Uberall analyzes how shoppers evaluate brick-and-mortar store reviews online.
When should brands respond to customer reviews?
Sixty-five percent of respondents believe that they should respond every time, whether the review is positive or negative. In addition, 18 percent believe they should respond only when the review is negative, while 10 percent feel they should never respond and 6 percent think they should only respond when the review is positive.
“It’s critical for brands to have a proactive voice in these conversations,” said Josha Benner, Uberall co-founder, in a news release. “Ready-to-buy shoppers aren’t just looking for positive online reviews—they’re actually evaluating the quality of an in-store experience based on online responsiveness.”
More than 3 out of 4 think a store’s responses should be personal
When asked how personalized a store’s responses should be to a customer review, 78 percent said that there should be some personalization. Forty-nine percent said responses should be “somewhat personalized,” while 29 percent said “very personalized.” Just 13 percent said “not very personalized” and 9 percent said “not personalized.”
“People simply aren’t going to be satisfied with a generic response from a store,” Benner said. “Some individualization is required to show that the brand cares about the customer. These results perfectly demonstrate why platforms like Google and Yelp spend so much energy on enforcing that businesses post personal responses versus generic, meaningless ones.”
More than 80 percent are likely to shop at a store that responds to reviews
When asked how likely they would be to shop at a store that responds to online reviews, 86 percent said they would be more likely. Of that group, 47 percent said “somewhat more likely,” while 39 percent said “more likely.” Only 8 percent said “somewhat less likely” while 6 percent said “not likely.”
“Consumers prefer businesses who care about them, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that personal responses to reviews show just that to consumers who research a business,” says Benner. “Responding to reviews is great for brand perception which leads to more new customers and repeat business from existing ones.”
Almost 20 percent check store reviews every time
When asked how often the survey’s respondents check customer reviews to help them figure out where to shop, 57 percent said occasionally, while 19 percent said “all the time.” Seventeen percent said “rarely” and 7 percent said “very rarely.”
“Most people are checking store reviews to pick where to shop,” said Benner. “Virtually 20 percent are checking them all the time, while almost 60 percent do so with some regularity. I anticipate that there will be greater growth for those who always check, as more brands invest in driving eyeballs to their reviews, given the ROI they can deliver.”
Nearly 75 percent think online reviews are important
When asked about the importance of online customer reviews for a store, 74 percent cited them as either “moderately important” (40 percent) or “very important” (34 percent). Just 20 percent said “slightly important” and 6 percent said they were “not important.”
“Customer reviews are important, period,” added Benner. “Three-quarters of those surveyed said they were either very or fairly influential. With so many options out there, stores live or die based on their ratings.”
Nearly 40 percent define positive review as 4.0 and up
The idea of what constitutes a positive review varies. Uberall’s discovered that 39 percent consider “4.0 and up” a positive review. Other responses include: “3.5 and up” (20 percent), “4.5 and up” (15 percent), “5.0” (13 percent), “3.0 and up” (8 percent), “1.5 and up” (3 percent), “2.5 and up” (2 percent) and “2.0 and up” (1 percent).
“A plurality of people think a positive review has to be a 4.0 or up,” said Benner. “This isn’t a surprise. Brands need to keep this in mind when evaluating their online presence. If you have a store with a rating under 4.0, that’s not good enough anymore.”
For the study, Uberall commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 consumers throughout the U.S. The study was conducted from Oct. 1-5, 2018.