Online reviews are incredibly important.
They impress potential clients, boost your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts, and help to demonstrate the value you add to people’s lives.
We’ve previously explained why we recommend that advisers and planners use Google and VouchedFor to collect online reviews. And we’re delighted to see that many are taking our advice on board and building up reviews on both platforms. However, we’ve noticed that many (including ourselves, if we’re honest) are making a simple mistake when they receive a review.
What is it?
Yes, it’s as simple as that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It is.
5 reasons you should reply to online reviews
1. It shows you appreciate the review: The value of reviews to you and your business is huge. So, it’s important to show you’re grateful.
Like us, most firms say thank you in private, usually by sending an email. However, replying to the review in public is more powerful because potential clients scrolling through your reviews will see it. Plus, a combination of the review and your reply means prospective clients will start to see people like them (from your client’s review) and the value of what you do (from your reply).
2. It shows you care about all clients: Very occasionally, an adviser/planner will receive a negative review. Often these are fake, but occasionally things have gone wrong, and the client has genuine cause for complaint.
Naturally, all negative reviews should receive a carefully crafted and appropriate response. However, it looks strange to both existing and potential clients if you only reply to negative reviews. Instead, respond to all reviews (including First Impression reviews on VouchedFor), both good and bad.
3. You’ll stand out further from the crowd: Despite the fact more advisers and planners are collecting online reviews, it’s still only a small minority who have a meaningful number.
It’s a smaller number still who actually reply to reviews.
Advisers and planners tell us that competition rarely happens in a meeting room or on a Zoom call. However, we know that many potential clients consider more than one adviser/planner, checking them out online before deciding who to contact.
So, by collecting reviews and replying to them, you will set yourself apart from your peers and worthy rivals.
4. It allows you to deliver your key message: When you write a reply, you’re speaking to two people; the person who wrote the review and the potential client reading the review and your response.
Therefore, it’s the perfect time to work in some of your key messages. For example, if your client recently retired, talk about how financial planning gave them the confidence to make a big decision. If your client came to you worried about when they could afford to retire, and you’ve given them clarity about their future, explain how you did it.
Remember, potential clients want to know whether you’re the person that can solve their problems and help them achieve their aspirations. Your clients’ reviews and your responses are a great way to demonstrate that you’re the right person for them.
5. Adding keywords boosts your SEO: It’s not a silver bullet to endless enquiries (as some advisers and planners think it is) but there’s certainly value in appearing as high up as possible on the results page for key searches. Especially when someone is looking for an adviser/planner close to them.
The reviews themselves will benefit your SEO. Your reply is the perfect opportunity to work in keywords and phrases which Google might pick up.
7 tips for writing the perfect response
1. Be specific: Naturally, you should never break client confidences or give away personal information. However, be as specific as you can within those limits, explaining the problem you helped your client solve or the aspiration you helped them achieve.
2. Don’t delay: Try to respond within a day or so (note to self: it’s something we need to get better at). It’ll show both the client who left the review and other people who read it that you appreciate it.
3. Respond to all reviews: You should write a response to every review you receive. As we said earlier, that includes First Impression reviews on VouchedFor.
4. Thank the reviewer by name: Use your client’s name when responding to give your response the personal touch. Then, start by thanking them for taking the time to leave the review.
5. Respond directly: In the perfect review, your client will explain why they needed an adviser/planner, what you did for them, and what’s changed. If they do that, there’s plenty for you to respond to directly.
6. Work in your key messages: Remember that your response is aimed at both the client who left the review and potential clients who might read it. Therefore, you should work in key messages that you want prospects to hear.
For example, if you’re a financial planner, your response is the perfect time to explain the benefits of what you do and, for example, how cashflow planning helped your client. If your client mentions their divorce or separation, it’s the perfect time to explain how financial planning can help people at a difficult time in their lives.
7. Include keywords: We’ve already explained how reviews will help your SEO and the importance of adding keywords in your responses.
For example, your response could include the line: “As local financial advisers in Nottingham I was delighted that you made contact with us and we were able to help you…” or “As financial planners in London, specialising in helping people with their retirement…”
You get the picture. Like all keyword insertion, it should be as natural as possible as first and foremost you’re writing for a human audience. But, if you can insert them into your answer, you should.
Start leaving replies
Hopefully, you’re now convinced about the benefits of leaving replies to reviews.
The next step is simple – decide who in your business will respond to reviews and dive in. Start by responding to reviews you’ve received over the past few months. Then, ensure that someone in your business responds quickly to each new review.
Meanwhile, we’re off to practise what we preach and start replying to our Google reviews!