Running a business, it can be hard to keep up with the online reviews that may be coming in daily from Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and Google — just to name a few platforms consumers use to rate and review their experience with a business.
Your instinct may be to skim reviews in search of negative feedback that you can respond to as a form of damage control, which isn’t a bad idea. But do you take time to respond to positive reviews as well?
If the answer is no, then you should read on to learn why it is increasingly important for businesses to respond to all types of feedback and how doing so could be beneficial for your reputation and client loyalty. If the answer is yes, then here you’ll find tips for best practices when it comes to engaging clients through their online reviews and social shares!
Show that you care
One of the most important reasons for striving to engage with all reviews is that it shows you genuinely care about your clients’ experience with your business. If you only address complaints online that might affect your reputation, you may appear defensive and self-serving without demonstrating that you are invested in your clients’ feedback good, bad or otherwise.
Tamara Burke of Charlotte Yoga in North Carolina oversees their online reputation management and shared that the reason they respond to all reviews is that, “We want our clients to know that they matter to us and that we would not be where we are if it wasn’t for their loyalty….we think it’s important to respond to comments our clients leave on our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) because we appreciate them and want them to feel seen and heard, and also for us to feel connected to our client base beyond the in-person impression we have at our studio locations.”
And in case you are wondering, people are checking; according to a consumer review survey by BrightLocal, 30% of consumers consider whether a business responds to online reviews as a key factor in their decision-making. That means that one in three potential clients may be reading online reviews about your studio looking to see if you have responded or not before they decide to come for a visit or even check your website!
Social media specialist at TITLE Boxing Club International, Gavin Porter, also considers responding to reviews as a best practice for their 172 studios nationwide whose social media he monitors. “If I am a guy who leaves a review and then someone reaches out to me and says, ‘hey, John, I’m so glad you had a great experience,’ it makes you seem more real—like you are not just there for business but that you are there to be part of someone’s life.”
A little goes a long way
Maybe you are thinking that you don’t have time to read and respond to every single review online, but keep in mind that a little goes a long way! Not every studio will have a dedicated social media manager or someone responsible for monitoring every channel through which a client might leave a review — that’s totally fine! The goal is to make a point of checking regularly, even if it is once a week.
Sometimes it is as simple as liking a review on Facebook or Yelp to show that you’ve seen it and appreciate it. An interaction that basic can be enough! Burke shared an anecdote of a time that an emoji on Instagram led to a new client.
Burke shares, “Someone commented on our Instagram photo while they were visiting Charlotte, and we replied with a laughing emoji. They Direct Messaged (DM) us after, asking if we had a class they could attend before work, and we responded with class times. The next morning they attended class! In this instance, responding to a comment and then a DM brought in a new client that we feel confident will visit our studio each time they come and visit Charlotte, NC.”
Porter echoed this sentiment, saying that a quick comment on a post like, “congratulations on your 100th class!” or “happy you enjoyed it,” can be enough. He also tends to use emojis frequently on Instagram where comments and sharing is more informal. It can be that easy to show you are listening online.
Promote further engagement
When you do respond to a positive review, Porter suggests that you try to promote engagement in the way you respond. If someone leaves a review on Facebook about a class or posts a picture and tags your studio on Instagram, try to respond with a question, for example, “How did you like it?”
This can encourage the client to respond with more feedback while communicating that you care about their opinion, which will make them feel valued. If someone feels like their input matters, that can bolster their sense of belonging and connection to your studio.
Giving your clients the chance to contribute to the betterment of the fitness community is the best form of engagement.
If asking a question isn’t appropriate for a positive review, you might take the approach of encouraging in-person engagement, replying with something like, “We hope to see you again” or “You should try the Tuesday morning class!” Engaging the client online by encouraging them to take some action online or offline will solidify the bond you have already created with them in person.
Positive reviews are a marketing asset
Another reason to pay attention to those positive reviews is that you can collect them for your use in other aspects of the business like using them as testimonials on your website or for a portfolio. Porter uses this tactic at TITLE Boxing Club International.
“If you respond to those good reviews and continue to collect them as clips, you have a member testimonial board, which you can use as an asset when you are trying to work with a local community event or do something like sponsor a 5k. We use the reviews to show how our values align with the community values by showing what people say about us and how we create a certain feeling when people come to class. Having those reviews in your hip pocket is valuable.”
Be creative and take advantage of these voluntary testimonials that clients offer. You have earned the praise after all, so utilize it in a way that will improve and uplift your business and community.
The power of positive reviews
Porter has seen firsthand how impactful responding to positive reviews can be for a business and a client. A TITLE Boxing Club International client documented his dramatic weight-loss journey on Instagram, losing 310 pounds over the course of a few years with dietary changes and consistent boxing workouts. When he shared a before and after photo of his transformation, he tagged his local TITLE Boxing studio in Michigan, and that studio shared his post on their various social channels. From there, the story was picked up by NBC, giving the client and TITLE Boxing an opportunity to inspire even more people to make positive changes in their lives.
Porter reflected how that client’s story about his experience with TITLE Boxing Club International showed others that boxing doesn’t have to be this intimidating workout and that even in a group-style setting, you can get the personal interaction that makes the difference between just working out and feeling like you are a part of something.
“It’s important for us to reach out and develop relationships with our clients. Being able to be genuine with the community by responding to reviews online does that.”
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