How to Respond to Every Type of Review

Responding to online reviews can be even more impactful for a business than dozens of glowing reviews. This post will teach you how to respond to positive, neutral and negative reviews of your business as well as address fake reviews!

How to Respond to Every Type of Review

Review marketing is a powerful tool to show local consumers that your business is the right choice for their needs, but your work isn't done once you get a new review.

Responding to reviews is an opportunity for your business to show that it genuinely cares about its customers’ experience and to demonstrate how it handles unsatisfactory situations.

Responding to reviews is an art form and strategy all its own, and addressing fake reviews is part of it! Read on to learn how to reply to positive, neutral, negative and fake reviews.

Why You Should Reply to Your Business's Reviews

Replying to reviews is vital to your business's review marketing strategy. Responding to positive reviews shows the customer that you care about their experiences with your business and that you appreciate them. Replying to neutral reviews is a great idea because it could be what the customer needs to give your business a second chance.

Most businesses know that replying to negative reviews is crucial to mend your relationship with the customer and show anyone who reads the review that you care about making things right for unhappy customers.

Typically, customers expect a reply to their review. Rarely is a customer leaving a review for others, they are often leaving a review to further connect with the business: to thank them, share a grievance or offer a tip.

When the business replies–no matter the nature of the review–the relationship with the customer is strengthened, and the chance for repeat business increases.

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

Ideally, most of your business’s reviews are positive and glowing! In this situation, responding to every single review can become burdensome. However, you should try to reply to most of your positive reviews.

Here’s how:

  1. Start by thanking the customer. Tell them you’re glad they had a great experience with your business and that you hope to see them again.
  2. Insert relevant keywords and your business's name. This will make the review more likely to show up in search results. Here’s an example of how to respond to a positive review: “Thanks for choosing Steve’s French Bistro! We’re glad to hear you enjoyed our croissants and rustic French décor.” Be careful not to keyword stuff. Mentioning your business name and industry once should be plenty.
  3. Get some extra marketing power out of the review by sharing it on your website and social media.

How to Respond to Neutral Review

Neutral reviews are typically three-star reviews and sometimes don’t offer much information about the customer's experience or what they initially expected from the business. Responding to neutral reviews can spark a valuable conversation and connection with the customer.

  1. Start by thanking the customer for their review. Let them know you appreciate their comments and that you’ll use them as a chance to improve your business.
  2. Repeat the positive aspects of the review. “Thanks so much for your feedback! We’re glad to hear you enjoyed your breakfast sandwich.”
  3. Apologize for any negatives in the review. It’s good to steer clear from “explaining it away” and reply with a simple and heartfelt apology. Asking if you can do anything to make it right is always a great move!
  4. Invite them back. “We hope to see you again.” Or take it offline. “If you’d like to discuss how we could’ve improved your experience, please call or email us. We look forward to hearing from you!”

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

While negative reviews can be hard to read, they are sometimes the most valuable kind of review for your business. Replying to and taking action on a negative review can help safeguard your business from repeating the same incident in the future!

Here are a couple more reasons why you should respond to negative reviews:

Here’s how to handle responding to a negative review:

  1. Take time to calm down and let any emotions settle after reading the review. Never reply when you’re still angry or upset because you may say something you don't really mean and make the situation worse. Walk away from the computer for a time and reflect on how to proceed. Don't wait too long, though: 52 percent of consumers expect a response within seven days.
  2. Remember why you’re replying. You want to win back the customer and show other consumers that you care enough to make things right.
  3. Apologize, even if it isn’t your fault. “I’m sorry to hear that our business didn’t meet your expectations.”
  4. Remind the reviewer what your business stands for and strives to be. “We aim to offer the best quality service in town and will share this feedback with our team immediately.”
  5. Repeat the positives. Again, if there are any positive comments in the review, repeat them to reinforce the idea that your business did offer them some value.
  6. Take it offline or offer to make it right. Ask the reviewer to email, call or visit your business so you can fix the problem. Offer a coupon or discount for their next purchase. Don’t try to bribe them for a better review but do genuinely try to make things right.
  7. As you get more positive reviews, the negative review will move towards the bottom of the results and won’t be seen by so many eyes after a time. Don’t sweat it!
  8. Remember that you can’t please everyone. Some unhappy customers just won't return to your business, but that’s okay. Focus on building better relationships with happy customers.
  9. Know that negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. In fact, a few negative reviews will help consumers trust your business more. Some consumers are suspicious and tend to think that reviews that are all positive are fake. They know you wouldn’t pay for fake negative reviews, so there’s a new level of trust opened with a few negative reviews around.

How to Respond to Fake Reviews

It’s estimated that 15-30 percent of all online reviews are fake. Fake reviews are a little tricky, but here's what you can do about them:

  1. If you ever find a review that is obviously false, find the review website’s FAQ or TOS page. Figure out how to flag or report the review as fake and report it.
  2. Don’t reply to the review unless the review website doesn’t allow you to flag reviews as fake. Only then should you reply calmly that you have no record of doing business with this person.
  3. Don’t attack them. That will make your business look unprofessional.
  4. Bury the review with new positive reviews by building a review marketing strategy that allows your business to get new positive reviews consistently.

A Note on Review Platforms and Websites

Every review website or platform will have its own set of rules for replying to reviews. Read those rules before responding.

For instance, Google has a set of Terms and Policies.

And Yelp is very particular about how businesses should conduct themselves on the review platform. Here’s Yelp’s set of rules for replying to positive and negative reviews.

Don’t forget to reply to your reviews on social media too. Customers can review your business on social media, so you should respond to those reviews in the same manner.

Final Thoughts

Review marketing isn’t a one-way street, and, as a business owner, you should strive to prioritize responding to as many reviews as possible! You know your business and customers best, so you can confidently respond professionally and in a way that builds relationships.

We understand things get busy, and responding to reviews can fall to the wayside. RevLocal offers review marketing services that collect new reviews and manage your current reviews! To learn more about this service, check out our review marketing service! RevLocal also offers other digital marketing services like paid advertising, website services, social media, data analytics and more. Contact us today to see how we can help your small business or multi-location brand.

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