How to Respond to Positive & Negative Online Reviews 

Reader Digital   •   August 30, 2018

Consumers rely on online reviews to discover new businesses and make purchasing decisions, but reviews present a vital opportunity to businesses as well. Responding to online reviews? both positive and negative? attracts new customers, boosts retention rates, advances reputation management, and increases visibility in search engines, especially localized searches.
Still, mastering the art of review responses can be tricky. Above all, you want to show customers that you care about their experiences and are open to feedback.

Read on for some guidelines to crafting the perfect response any review:

Responding to positive online reviews

The emotional satisfaction derived from positive online reviews for your business can make your day, but it’s not enough to simply read them, smile, and feel good. Responding to customers who are already enthusiastic about your product or service helps create a loyal following and strong referral network. Best of all, positive review responses are much easier and faster to create than responses to negative reviews. Here are some tips:

1. Express your gratitude
It goes without saying that each positive review response should start with a sincere “thank you” to the customer for taking the time to leave a review. Be sure to change up your wording for each one, though, or people might wonder if the responses are automated. For example, try: “Thank you so much for your review!” or “We can’t thank you enough for your kind words!”

2. Personalize the response
When responding to a positive review, always include the customer’s name or username. Personalizing your response demonstrates you take the time to consider each review and care about engaging with customers as individuals.

3. Mirror their details
Reinforcing the positive details of a customer’s review highlights the positive aspects of your business for prospective customers as well. People want to be heard, and mirroring details is a way to practice active listening?an important skill in business and elsewhere.

4. Offer valuable information
When a customer gives you the gift of a positive review, you can offer something valuable in return, such as a discount code, information on upcoming specials or sales, relevant product advice, or something else that makes the customer feel like a VIP.

5. Use keywords
Responding to positive online reviews is a great opportunity to improve your search rankings, so try to insert a few relevant keywords along with your company name. But don’t go overboard, as many customers can recognize impersonal, keyword-stuffed content when they see it.
Responding to negative online reviews

The first step of responding to a negative review is to take a deep breath and remember that an attack on your business is not a personal attack. To avoid an emotional response that can backfire?or worse, go viral?it’s important to be calm, collected, and strategic. Here’s how:

1. Investigate the issue
“The customer is always right” might be a popular saying in customer service, but it’s not always true. If a customer has a specific complaint, verify the facts of the situation. Get the other side of the story from staff members if needed, or double-check your company policies if there is a perceived violation. Depending on the situation, you might ask the customer to contact you via email or phone for more details, as many negative online reviews are the result of a misunderstanding.

2. Apologize, no matter what
Negative customer experiences are usually subjective, but regardless of whether a negative online review is justified, unfair, or simply a matter of taste, the best professional response is to apologize. Apologies also show prospective customers that you care enough about them and your business to make things right.

3. Ask for feedback
Apologies for negative experiences are best paired with a sincere desire to make the customer’s next experience much better. If applicable, explain what you have already done to ensure the specific problem isn’t repeated, and ask the customer what else you could do to ensure positive experiences going forward.

4. Be concise
No matter how tempted you are to bang out a thousand words explaining your mistake or disputing a reviewer’s facts, essay-length responses are not a good look. Keep your response short and to the point. Often, a simple “Sorry you had a bad experience, let us know how we can improve in the future” is enough to retain a customer who threatens to never use your product or service again.

5. Be professional
It’s important to retain your brand’s voice and strike a professional tone when replying to reviews, and as with any written content, be sure your spelling and grammar are flawless. It’s also a good idea to go over responses once or twice before sending, and if it’s a response to a particularly bad review, you might even send it to a friend or colleague to give it a fresh set of eyes.

Strategic customer review responses are vital to digital marketing

Responding to both positive and negative online reviews offers several benefits to small business owners, but it can be time-consuming and tricky to navigate. Reader Digital can help guide all aspects of your digital marketing campaign and boost your reputation in local markets and beyond. To find out more, fill in the contact form below.