How to Reply to Online Reviews as a Business or Brand
Posted by: Derek Szyszka
Last Updated: May 4, 2021
Why are people looking at reviews? People are social creatures, and therefore we are strongly influenced by the choices our peers make. For example, if you’re trying to decide between two restaurants and one is busy, while the other one is empty, you will likely choose the busy one. It doesn’t matter if the food is actually “better” or not, we typically assume the restaurant with more patrons is the better choice.
This is the power of social proof.
Social proof comes in many forms, including testimonials, statistics, and reviews. While testimonials and statistics can be handled relatively easily, online reviews can be more complicated to deal with. Replying to online reviews is one of the most important ways to engage and support the community around your business. Reviews will show your new customers what they can expect when making a purchase or doing business with you. It is crucial to handle these reviews (good or bad) in a professional, understanding tone that will satisfy the customer who left the initial review and impress future customers that see your response.
The following tips will improve your ability to interact with customers leaving reviews online. Over time this should increase your customer ratings from online review sites like Google MyBusiness, Facebook, or Yelp.
How to reply to positive reviews
Positive reviews showcase the promoters behind any business, and it is important to acknowledge their positive feedback.
Respond quickly to positive reviews
Thank the reviewer
Keep it short
Be authentic and personal
Use your companies name if you can
Invite the reviewer for further engagement
Note: The last step is very contextual to the type of review, but it can be as simple as:
Let them know you look forward to their next visit
Invite them to like your business on social media
Ask them to share their experience with a friend/family member
How to reply to negative reviews
Negative reviews can seem discouraging and can be crippling to a business’s online reputation. Dealing with negative reviews doesn’t have to be hard. In some cases, they can be leveraged as a marketing tool to show that despite a bad experience, your business cares and will do what it takes to make the situation right.
Be sympathetic and apologize
Explain what went wrong and how the experience should have gone – This step is optional based on the negative review as you do not want to risk escalating the situation
Keep the reply short and simple – Don’t go into too much detail and don’t ask any questions publicly
It’s always a good idea to try and move the conversation offline – Providing multiple forms of contact will show the customer and other users reading the review that you are taking the initiative to correct the problem
Note: Do not use your business name or names of your staff in negative review replies as you do not want these keywords coming up in future online searches.
How to reply to troll reviews
Trolls want attention, plain and simple. Their only goal is to get you angry and frustrated, which can sometimes make responders say or do unprofessional things.
To deal with troll reviews…
Understand what they are trying to say – Some people just like to complain
Don’t ignore them, but don’t give in and make the situation worse. Stay professional and authentic in your response – Ignoring them can appear to be confirmation that the statement they made is true.
Try to make light of the situation
Do some research, once a troll, always a troll – Searching the trolls name may turn up a pile of negative reviews you may able to use as a defence
The world is still run by humans, and humans make mistakes – Apologize for any mistakes (even small ones) that may have occurred, but do not get baited into apologizing for something that did not happen
Correct any spelling mistakes in your response – Unfortunately, trolls tend to pounce on small spelling or grammatical errors, so try and avoid them in your response
As a last resort, on certain services like Google My Business you can mark troll reviews as inappropriate, so they are not publicly accessible
Note: This is another case where you do not want to use your business name or names of your staff in replies as you do not want these keywords coming up in online searches around your business.
Turning customers into fans
Whether it’s a good review, a bad review, or even a troll review, it is crucial to be tactful, compassionate and understanding when dealing with your customers online. Be honest about the situation and always remain calm. If you find yourself stuck and at a loss for the words, try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Imagine what YOU would like to see in a response and how the situation should be handled from their perspective.