When to Respond to Online Reviews (And How)

women writing an online review

Did you know that 9 out of 10 consumers say that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, and 8 out of 10 consumers say that hearing back from the business about their comments makes them believe that the company cares about their customers?

Start an online reviews system

Setting the online reviews system and responding to customers increases your business visibility in search engines, which results in more customers. Here are a few tips to boost your online presence.

  1. Do not stop at Yelp.  Create review opportunities across multiple platforms and encourage reviews on Google, Facebook, BBB and more. Your business is ranked on Google based on the nature, volume and consistency of the reviews you get.
  2. Ask your happy customers to share their awesome experiences online as well.
  3. Boost the visibility of the positive reviews by answering these with your business name, location and any keywords you know are relevant for your business.

When and how to respond to online reviews

If your time is limited and there are hundreds of reviews every week, you should develop a review system. Give priority to the customers that prioritize you! Put more effort into longer and more detailed reviews. People took time to express all those things, compensate them with the same effort and attention!

Always answer positive or neutral reviews, and not just by hitting the “like” button. Studies show that people’s trust in your business increases when they get a reply, plus your business gets more visibility.
  1. Express your gratitude for taking the time to leave the review.
  2. Personalize the message by using the reviewer’s name.
  3. Comment on something specific from the review, mirroring the details they shared, but also their tone. A very enthusiastic review needs an enthusiastic reply!
  4. If the review also mentions a minor complaint, ensure the reviewer that you are taking care of that!
  5. Express “thank you” again, and sign off with a positive sentiment.

Select the negative reviews you will answer.

For some negative reviews, the best response is no response. These are the flaggable and filtered reviews.

  1. If you can conclude that there is just a case of an unhappy person having a venting moment towards your business, you do not need to waste time writing a reply.
  2. Judge case-by-case. If you consider that the review should be flagged because of language, for instance, consult the platform’s review guidelines, and then act accordingly.
  3. Some review platforms use moderation, filtering out illegitimate or untrustworthy reviews. We recommend not to respond to these already filtered negative reviews. Once you answer, you transfer some legitimacy to the review, and the platform reconsiders its filter and make it visible.

In the case of the negative reviews you choose to answer, postpone the reply until you cool off. Take at least one or two days to answer back, unless the customers need an immediate response – they might complain about a delayed shipment.

  1. Personalize reply, by using the reviewer’s name.
  2. Say thank you for the feedback.
  3. Empathize, empathize, empathize with their problem.
  4. Apologize for the specific issue they mentioned in the review, and explain that this is not in accordance with your business practices.
  5. Take the conversation offline, by giving a direct contact (name, email address/phone number) that could help in solving the issue.
Engage your customers and boost your business online presence! Contact us today to optimize your online reviews system.

Common Questions

How can I effectively encourage my customers to leave reviews on various platforms?

Encouraging customers to leave reviews can be effectively managed through a combination of direct requests and incentives. Immediately after a purchase or service, businesses can send follow-up emails or SMS messages thanking customers for their patronage and kindly asking them to share their experience on platforms like Google, Facebook, or Yelp. To make this process more appealing, businesses might offer small incentives such as discounts on future purchases, entry into a contest, or a complimentary service. Additionally, setting up physical or digital reminders at points of sale or within the business premises that prompt customers to leave a review can also increase participation rates. Training staff to verbally encourage satisfied customers to post reviews can further personalize the request and enhance the likelihood of positive feedback.

What are some examples of how to personalize responses to both positive and negative reviews?

To effectively personalize responses to online reviews, it’s crucial to tailor each reply to the specific content and tone of the review. For positive reviews, a personalized response might begin by thanking the customer by name, then referencing specific details they mentioned, such as a product they purchased or an aspect of the service they enjoyed. Express genuine appreciation for their feedback and reiterate any positive sentiments they shared, matching their enthusiasm. For negative reviews, start similarly by addressing the customer by name and thanking them for their feedback. Acknowledge any specific issues they raised and express empathy for their dissatisfaction. Apologize sincerely and offer a concise explanation if appropriate, suggesting a move to offline communication for further resolution. This approach not only shows that you value customer feedback but also demonstrates your commitment to improving their experience.

How do I determine which negative reviews should be flagged or ignored?

Determining which negative reviews should be flagged or ignored requires a nuanced approach. First, businesses should closely examine the content of each review to assess whether it violates the platform’s guidelines, such as containing offensive language, personal attacks, or irrelevant content. If a review clearly breaches these rules, it should be flagged for the platform’s moderation team to evaluate and possibly remove. For reviews that are negative but don’t violate guidelines, the decision to respond or ignore depends on the nature of the complaint. If the review is constructive or highlights a legitimate issue, it warrants a thoughtful response. However, if the review seems to be purely venting without any specific complaints or if the reviewer appears to be unreasonably upset, it might be more prudent to ignore it. In these cases, responding could escalate the situation or lend undue credibility to the review. Ultimately, the goal is to engage with criticism constructively, where there is potential for resolution or improvement, and to use discretion when encountering unproductive negativity.