Every business owner loves receiving positive feedback. A glowing customer review, left on a site like Yelp, Facebook, or Angie’s List, can be an incredible affirmation. A negative review, meanwhile, tends to sting a little bit. Regardless of the tone or content of an online review, however, the important thing to remember is that it’s always an invitation for further engagement—and if you respond to the review in the right way, you could potentially turn that reviewer into a recurring customer.

Turning Reviewers into Clients

The question is, how can you leverage reviews to build customer loyalty? Consider a few quick tips:

Put the spotlight on the reviewer. Every review is an opportunity for you to make the reviewer feel valued—to make him or her feel like they have been heard, that they matter to you. Keep this in mind with every review engagement. The point is not for you to make yourself look good, or to prove yourself “right.” It’s to show real, customer-focused service, and to let the reviewer know that they have your full attention.

Actually consider all the reviews you get. The feedback you receive from customers, taken as a whole, can be a kind of blueprint—a blueprint for building a better customer experience. Don’t throw that invaluable advice away! Actually engage with it and use it to fine-tune the way you deliver your products and services. When customers see that you really listen to them and care about what they’re saying, you’ll earn their respect.

Respond to reviews quickly. A more-or-less real-time response is the best way to show your customers that you value their feedback. Reviews that go unanswered for weeks or even months at a time, meanwhile, will only foster resentment or frustration. Have processes in place to monitor review sites daily, and to offer a response as quickly as possible. Appoint someone on your team to be in charge of this.

Customize your response. A standard, cut-and-paste script won’t engage your customers. What you need is to show each reviewer that you are talking only to them. Emphasize common ground; be grateful for positive feedback, and acknowledge negative feedback. Stress that you are working to resolve any issues and that you dearly value the customer experience.

Make the invitation. Finally, and perhaps most obviously: Be deliberate in inviting the customer to come back! Don’t think it is assumed or implied; come right out and say it, every time.

With these tips, you can really make the most of those online reviews. Learn more about marketing in the age of Yelp by checking out the most recent courses at ACES.