October 17, 2023

When and How to Respond to Reviews

Close-up on someone reviewing a company with their phone and leaving 5 stars.

We know that Google Business and Yelp reviews can make or break a potential customer’s decision to shop with you. However, you are not powerless over your business’ online reputation. Responding to reviews and comments, both positive and negative, helps you control the narrative and adds a human element to your digital profile. Follow the tips below to learn when and how to respond to reviews.

What reviews to respond to

Aim to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. This will allow you to thank customers who had a positive experience and mend relationships with customers who didn’t. Responding to all reviews also improves your business’ reputation by showing you care about your customers, take pride in your work, and strive to keep improving.

When to respond to reviews

Try to respond to reviews within 24 hours. This will not only help you stay on top of your online reputation, but the faster you respond, the better you will rank on search engines. Also, if there is a concern customers are having with your business, it’s best you are aware of it as soon as possible so you can make amends with that customer before they take their business elsewhere. The reviews may contain valuable feedback and the faster you can implement it, the better.

How to respond to reviews

Depending on the sentiment of the review, the style of your response will vary. However, no matter the review, always keep things professional.

How to respond to positive reviews

Thank customers for leaving positive reviews and strengthen your relationship even further. Something simple like, “Thank you! We’re so glad you liked your (product name). We hope to see you again soon,” is enough. If the reviewer left their name, use that in the response to build on that personal connection and personalize your response.

How to respond to negative reviews

As a business owner, sometimes it’s hard not to take negative reviews personally. While no one wants a negative review, most businesses will receive them at some point. By responding to a negative review, you have the opportunity to correct the problem and help your reputation. Also, reviewers have the option to update their reviews. If you are able to fix a problem for them, they may update their review to be positive. Remember, when you respond to a review, you are not only responding to the customer that wrote it, but the entire internet can see your response so make sure you stay professional.

Build a template to respond to these negative reviews so you can remain consistent in your responses and stay professional even when emotions are running high. Below are some tips for crafting your response:

  • Keep your response succinct. Leave the details of the situation out of your response.
  • Apologize when necessary. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge any mistakes your business made, but don’t apologize when you weren’t in the wrong.
  • Don’t argue. Although you may be tempted to defend your business, when others see a business owner arguing with a customer, it will have the opposite effect. 
  • Take things offline. Ask the customer to come into the shop or give you a call to discuss further and make things right. When you have that conversation with the customer, ask questions to understand the situation and make them feel heard.
  • Sign off personally. Sign off on the review with your name and initials so the customer and any readers see the personal attention given to their concerns.

How to respond to neutral reviews

A neutral review may contain some positive aspects and some negative. These critiques are especially valuable because they allow you to see a more honest, realistic customer point-of-view. They also are likely valuable to potential customers reading through reviews because they can see the review is unbiased and likely more truthful.

To respond, thank the customer for their feedback. Repeat their positive sentiments and assure them you’ll use their more negative feedback to improve your business.

Use reviews to improve your business

Reviews are not only helpful in improving SEO rankings and reputation, but they provide great customer insight. Below are some ways you can use reviews to strengthen your business:

  • Listen. While there are internet trolls out there, many reviews contain valuable feedback. Take the time to consider the customer’s point-of-view and determine if there is a certain theme to multiple reviews. If a certain problem seems to be recurring, it may be time to make a change.
  • Ask for positive reviews in-person. It’s true that customers are more likely to leave a negative review after a bad experience than a positive review after a good experience. To balance out these reviews, ask your customers with whom you know you’ve had a positive interaction to leave a review.
  • Use software. There is software available that not only allow you to track and easily respond to reviews, but also to engage with customers to elicit more positive reviews. 
  • Boost employee morale. Positive reviews should be celebrated! Share the feedback with your employees in your internal newsletters or company meetings. If a certain employee was involved in an employee’s positive experience, they should be rewarded.
  • Use positive reviews as social proof. Share your positive reviews on social media or in advertisements.

93% of consumers say that reviews impact their purchasing decisions. That’s why it’s incredibly important to build your online reputation through reviews. If you are proactive in responding, thoughtful in your wording, and genuinely use the reviews to improve and celebrate your business, you’re on the right track!


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