How to Reply to Positive & Negative Customer Reviews

It’s clear how important customer reviews are — they’re critical to maintaining and improving your brand reputation and revenue. But what about replying to customer reviews? Maybe you think the reviews themselves are enough or you only have to reply to negative reviews. But you could be missing out on more opportunities to build brand trust and grow your business. 

The Importance of Replying to Customer Reviews

According to studies, replying to customer reviews results in better ratings. That’s because 93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product and 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews. Replying to reviews shows accountability, establishes credibility, and builds consumer trust. 

Another bonus to replying to reviews is a positive impact on search engine results. Search engines recognize when companies respond to reviews and will use that as a signal in their rankings. Some review sites will even make recommendations for brands based on these metrics. 

How to Respond to Customer Reviews

The importance of replying to your customer reviews is clear. However, you don’t have to worry about replying to every single review you get. In fact, you shouldn’t. You should always respond to negative reviews, but not every positive one is worth a reply. Some research has actually shown if you respond to every single review it can negatively impact your brand reputation.

How to choose what customer reviews to reply to:

  • Always reply to negative reviews if they’re credible and specific (i.e. reviews that just say “this place stinks” may not be constructive or worth your time to reply to — and aren’t providing much value to other prospective customers either) 
  • Reply to a positive review if it’s especially long and detailed and provides an opportunity to highlight or promote a particular event or product or make a recommendation for the next time they visit or purchase your product

Other things to keep in mind when replying to a customer review: 

  • Timing: More than half of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week. Ideally, you should reply to a negative review that day. 
  • Personalization: Always address the customer by name in your reply and talk like a real person. Don’t copy and paste the same reply to every review! There are better ways to automate review replies.
  • Appreciation: Always thank the customer for their review, whether it was positive or negative — they’ve taken the time to provide their constructive feedback and that’s noteworthy

You want to consider the aspects above no matter what kind of customer review you’re replying to. But you should also take a different approach to your reply depending on whether the review was positive or negative.

How to Reply to Positive Reviews

You’ve got a positive review, congratulations! Positive reviews should make your day. Consumers are more likely to leave a review based on a negative experience. So if you’re getting positive feedback, you’re really doing something right. 

As mentioned, you shouldn’t reply to every positive customer review — especially if you have a lot. But if you do get an especially notable one, you should acknowledge it. Follow these steps to do so: 

  • Thank them 
  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Use keywords (your company name, location, or product) 
  • Consider giving them something in return

As always, thank your customer for leaving a well-thought-out positive review. But use this as an opportunity to appeal to search engines and other customers. Using keywords is a chance to positively impact search – just don’t force it. 

If customers are going above and beyond leaving you positive reviews, consider offering them a discount or a recommendation for their next purchase. Just be sure if you do, that you keep it consistent or offer it to every positive review that you reply to. This is a valuable tactic to show your appreciation and encourage others to share positive experiences. 

Here are a couple of examples of how to reply to a positive customer review: 

Hi [name], 

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. We’re glad you enjoyed the [product] at our [location] store location. We hope next time you’re in that you try our [additional product] and let us know what you think! 

Thank you,

[company name] 

Hi [name], 

Thanks for your feedback! At [company name], we always strive to provide our customers with the quickest checkout experience possible and are happy you noticed. To show our appreciation, email us at [company email] and we’ll send you a code for an additional 30% off the next time you shop online with us! 

Thank you,

[company name] 

Get 100 review reply templates

How to Reply to Negative Reviews

If only all reviews were positive. Sadly, that’s not the case. At some point, you will get a negative review. The most important thing is to respond to it as quickly as possible. But here is exactly how to reply to negative reviews: 

  • Acknowledge the reviewer: Right away, make sure you apologize, sympathize, and take responsibility for any clear mistakes on your business’s part. 
  • Subtly counter: You never want to deny a claim in a negative review directly — that will only discredit the customer’s experience or feedback. However, you do want to share how you’re better in other ways or how you’re planning to make sure this doesn’t happen again. 
  • Offer to make it right: Offer money back or a discount for them to return so you can change their mind. Again, if you take this approach make sure you keep it consistent and offer everyone this opportunity. 
  • Don’t ask questions: You don’t want to draw more attention to the review than is necessary, so be sure not to ask questions directly in your response — instead, move the conversation offline by providing additional contact information. 

Here are a couple of examples of how to reply to negative reviews: 

Hi [name], 

I’m so sorry to hear you had to wait that long for your food. We usually get our deliveries out within 30 minutes of the order time. We’re looking into what happened the day you ordered and would be happy to provide you with your money back for the inconvenience. Just email us at [company email] and we will make it right! 

Thank you, 

[company name] 

Hi [name], 

I’m sorry you’re having that issue with our [product]. We’d like to learn more about the problem if you can contact our support team at [company email], we’ll look into it right away. Our [product] has a 95% success rate so we’d like to send you a replacement if yours isn’t working. Reviews like this are important to us to ensure we are constantly improving, so we appreciate the feedback. 

Thank you,

[company name] 

What You Can Expect Replying to Customer Reviews

According to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses that don’t. 

A study done by Cornell University researchers that examined thousands of hotel reviews and responses on TripAdvisor found a 12% increase in the number of reviews that came in and an increase in overall ratings when businesses responded to reviews. More specifically, the business experienced a .04 percent increase in revenue for each additional review a hotel earned. Though this exact lift can vary from industry to industry — the evidence is there, responding to reviews increases reviews, and as a result revenue. 

How to Get More Customer Reviews

While replying to reviews will help get more, you have to start somewhere. GatherUp makes it easy for you to gather, listen to, and share customer feedback from reviews to surveys to more. 

Replying to reviews takes time. But it’s an essential part of managing an online reputation. With GatherUp, you can save time replying to reviews. Our SmartReply feature uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze reviews and automatically generate a customized, human-sounding response. You can save time replying to reviews, craft better responses, and improve response time. Request a demo today to learn more. 

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