Last week I shared my thoughts on whether a business should respond to every positive review. Given my lack of infallibility, I thought it made sense to survey consumers and ask them.
Using Google survey we asked 560 reviewers what they thought. We asked:
If you leave a review, do you think that the business owner should respond to your review? Why or why not?
Methodology: Using Google's filter question, we asked 3,363 individuals how frequently they left reviews. Those that self-reported leaving a review within the past 12 months (26%, n=562) were then asked the follow-up question. The question was open-ended and respondents were allowed to answer however they wished. We then grouped the answers into five buckets of answers:
- Yes if negative
- It depends on the situation (i.e. very negative, very positive, or if the owner thought it appropriate)
- It doesn't matter
The nuances and variety of the answers were fascinating. Here is a word cloud that captures some of the responses (again, grouped into similar answers):
Here are more of the specific answers that I found of interest in each of the groupings:
Yes, the owner should respond to all reviews:
- A response would be nice, but I wouldn't expect one.
- It helps improve the service and engage the customer.
- Yes, because if I took the time to leave a review, I obviously think it's important.
- Yes, it shows they care about their customer service.
- Yes, because I took the time out of my day to post the survey, they should take the time out of theirs to say thank you.
No, the owner shouldn't respond to all reviews:
- No, difficult to justify with the anonymous nature for reviews.
- No, information only.
- No, it is not necessary.
- No, it just gives them an idea of how the business is doing.
- No, it's for other consumers.
- No, just accept the review and learn from it.
- No, just review and check validity.
- No, they have other things to do.
- No, too time consuming.
Yes, they should respond if negative:
- If it is a positive review, then no need. If it is a negative review and the owner is willing to admit the mishap and offers something constructive, then yes.
- If it's negative, yes, to reach out to the customer and right whatever was wrong.
- No need to respond unless I have a specific complaint.
- If the context requires a response. i.e. a negative review or comment about a specific instance.
- Only if it is a bad review and the business can offer an explanation.
- Only if it's negative, they should fix any problems.
- It depends on how critical the review is.
- It depends on situations.
- Maybe staying engaged is good, but they should not appear to be massaging online reviews in order to look good if they really are not.
- No, just keep offering good service if a positive response has been given.
- Not normally, unless it was very bad or very good.
- Not unless I ask to be contacted.
- Only if a response is requested.
- Only if owner feels it is necessary.
- Only if they are moved to do so.
- Maybe it would be nice to get an automatic response of some kind so you would know that they did actually see it.
- Only to address a complaint, although an acknowledgement of a compliment is nice.
- Sure, if they feel like it.
- They can if they want. They should be aware of what their customers are saying.
Have my conclusions changed as a result of this survey? Yes, slightly. You absolutely should respond to negative reviews and positive reviews where you can add to the context. I continue to think that you should not respond publicly to every review unless it is either the norm of the community (i.e. Facebook) or you have something to add.
But obviously a significantly large number of consumers think that you should respond to every review. Comments like "Yes, because I took the time out of my day to post the survey, they should take the time out of theirs to say thank you." from a number of consumers indicates that a response is appropriate. For me, this reinforces the comment by Rob Zaleski on my Google+ post and it's a good one. If in doubt, respond privately to the poster. If you do not want to appear overly solicitous and can't find the right public response to a positive review or if the environment is not conducive to a response, it would then be appropriate to contact the user privately and thank them for the review.