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How to Respond to Online Reviews: The Good and The Bad

Online reviews are a love-hate relationship. Customer testimonials have become a gateway into your business. Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor — your potential customers are looking at what others are saying. If you don’t believe us, just think about the first thing you do when you do just about… uh… everything! You should always respond and we are going to show you how — for the good and the bad.

Positive Reviews

You may think that having a 5-star review on your web page is enough to bring people in. Such a review will help, but you can make it even better with your response. Here’s why:

  • Everyone is going to see it. According to Internet Live Stats, there are over 3.6 Billion people in the world using the internet today. Your potential customers will see the review, and leaving a personalized response can really show off your customer relationship skills.
  • A reply will help your search ranking. Replying to a positive review can increase your rankings in local search and your consumer’s purchasing decision.
  • Replying is the right thing to do. If someone gives you a compliment, say thank you. And just to remind you, just about everyone in the area is going to see it so be extra polite!

How to Respond to a Positive Review

  1. Say thank you. Thank your customer for their review in a detailed response. For example: “Thank you so much for the great review, [reviewer name]! We are so glad you enjoyed our [product or service].”
  2. Mention specific keywords and your business name. This review may be seen by customers searching your business, and these keywords will help improve your SEO ranking. But try not to be too cheesy. “Our team at [business name] works hard at creating an enjoyable experience for our customers. We are proud to offer one of the best [products or services] in [city name].”
  3. Do some marketing. This is your chance to add in any new features or promotions for your business! “The next time you are here, you have to try the [new feature or promotion].”
  4. Encourage them to take action. Suggest that they return for another great experience and don’t be afraid to ask them to spread the word. “We hope to see you again, and bring a friend!”
  5. Share the review. Social media is not the place to be humble. Share the positive review through your online platforms and increase the number of potential customers for your business. Then, encourage more reviews!

Negative Reviews

Even the most courteous team can’t keep everyone happy. At some point, you’ll receive a one-star review. Unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere and you need to respond in order to make things better. Here’s why:

  • Again, everyone is going to see it. This is your chance to show potential customers that you are not neglectful of their feedback and you are taking the right steps to correct the issue at hand.
  • Build your customer relationships. A proper response can make the reviewer feel better about your business and show other potential customers that you really do care.
  • Make things right again. Your customers often don’t think of how their review will make YOU feel. The computer screen makes the review seem impersonal, and the right response can often humanize your brand and get the bad review removed. Or the customer will respond with a “I haven’t completely given up on your business, and thank you for taking the time to listen.” Sometimes, your customers just want to be heard.

How to Respond to a Negative Review

  1. Own up to the mistake and say sorry. Have sympathy for the customer and don’t shift the blame to some other source. For example: “[Reviewer name], we apologize for your bad experience with us.”
  2. Do some marketing. Give them an incentive to return. “We are normally known for our quality [product or service], but we are disappointed that we fell short during your visit with us.”
  3. Encourage them to take action offline. Provide them with contact information so you can address the problem privately. “If you would like to discuss this in further detail, please contact us at [phone number or email].”
  4. Keep the response short and sweet. Unlike positive reviews, you don’t want to include those specific keywords or your business name. You don’t want these reviews showing in local search results! Also, it may be obvious but we still have to say it. Don’t share these negative moments on your social pages, even if you turned a bad review around.
  5. Don’t wait. Respond to reviews within 24 hours if you can. Online, that’s an eternity.
  6. Resolve the issue. Identify the bigger issue at hand. If you have been getting multiple complaints about a rude sales representative, then it may to time to take action with this employee or provide better training.
  7. Avoid bribery. In your later private exchange with the customer, you might offer them a deal or freebie, but it’s best to do so without asking that person to remove or update his review. Some reviewers will go back and update their review to tattle on you, which reflects poorly on your business.

Always remember to be polite, professional, specific, and timely with your responses.

Still have questions about responding to reviews? Read our blog post on Embracing The Angry Customer or contact us today to help manage your online reputation.