Guide: Responding to Negative and Positive Reviews

Good. Glowing. Negative. Unfair. Online reviews take on all shapes and sizes. But, regardless of their tone, replying to reviews benefits your business in a big way. Let’s look at the why, the wins, and the how of review responses done right for both negative and positive reviews.

The Benefits of Replying to Reviews

Exceed customer expectations

If you’re not replying to reviews, you’re falling short of your customers expectations. 86% of users who complain expect a response within 3 days. Putting a process in place for your business to reply to customers will help you to meet, or even better, exceed their expectations.

Seize an opportunity to influence

Review replies present an opportunity for a business to add comments that provide context, offer perspective, and support the reviewer. These responses do double-duty. They influence future shoppers reading reviews to turn them into your future customer.

Make a connection

Humans are social creatures. Especially those who reach out to your business by leaving a review. Replying to reviews validates your customer, their effort, and creates a feel-good connection. Google now sends an email alert to a reviewer when you respond to their Google review, giving them an instant rush and you another impression of your brand.

Get better ratings

A study from Harvard Business Review showed businesses who replied to customer reviews experienced 12% more reviews. Ratings also increased an average of 0.12 stars which could mean an addition of a 1/2 star to your rating.

How To Prioritize Review Responses

Should I respond to reviews? Which reviews do I respond to? The answer to these common questions is, all of them. If you have the resources to respond to the volume of reviews you receive, respond to all reviews. You earned them. Good and bad they are yours to benefit from.

If you don’t have the resources to respond to all reviews, we have a plan for that too. Follow this outline on how to prioritize what reviews you respond to.

#1 Respond to all negative reviews

If you do nothing else, make responding to all negative to neutral reviews your top priority. To do this well, ensure the person replying to reviews has the authority to solve problems and offer solutions. Showing empathy for the situation and being respectful is vital to successful response management, but providing action is at the core of what the customer wants.

I will outline below some of the best practices to follow when responding to negative reviews.

#2 Respond to direct feedback from 1st-party reviews

No matter the sentiment of a 1st-party review, it’s like a text from your BFF. Don’t leave them hanging. If they care enough to reach out, show them some love. Good communication is what lasting relationships are made of.

GatherUp allows you the option to respond to your customers either publicly or privately. If you choose private, your response is only emailed to them and then saved in their customer profile. If you choose to publicly respond, your reply is posted to your Review Widget on your website as well as emailed to the customer and saved to their profile.

Here is an example of a public reply in our review widget to a 1st-party review.

#3 Replying to Google Reviews gives your response reach

Google is the world’s most popular search engine and you’ll notice it’s serving reviews with almost every search in many of it’s results.

Responding to Google reviews has many benefits. It shows consumers you value reviews and the time they took to write one. This may encourage others to leave one which increases the number of reviews and improves your local search rankings.

Google also emails your response to the customer when you reply giving you an additional touchpoint with your customer. Use GatherUp to respond to Google reviews directly. With little effort, you can use Google’s reach to give your reply extra lives.

Google review reply

#4 Be social with replies to Facebook Recommendations

Facebook is a social platform providing opportunity for engagement and conversation. The switch from reviews to recommendations introduced a text modal to the recommendation process. The change prompts more review content to be posted by users, inviting business replies.

The example Facebook Recommendation reply from Evelyn’s Wine Bar below shows great personalization as the staff remembered the customer came in with her daughters, that’s a level of service customers seek out.

#5 Respond to reviews left on industry review sites to create conversation

There are many niche review platforms for industries. We monitor over 40 of them. Responding to reviews in industry platforms meets your customers where they are and makes you a part of the conversation, leaving a trail back to your business.

Depending on your industry, these sites can be really important. If you are a hotel or bed and breakfast, then responding to your TripAdvisor reviews is a must. Make sure you know where your customers are talking about you and reviewing you so you can take part.

Best Practices for how to Respond to Negative Reviews

Negative reviews can be hard to receive, but often they can be a buying signal that a customer wants to continue to do business with you, however, they are feeling so much pain they are not sure they can.

Replying to a negative review may be daunting but the complaint may be an attempt to reconcile their feelings so that they can maintain their relationship with your business. So, take a deep breath and follow these tips for responding to negative reviews.

Prepare an educated response and solution

  • Process the negative review content. Thoroughly read the review and use information provided to research the issue internally. Follow process, get the right people involved, and verify what solutions you are able to offer.

Respond promptly and publicly

  • Over 55% of consumers expect a business to reply to a review within 1 day and over 30% expect a response within 3 days. Negative reviews especially demand a swift reply and resolution to show care and action from the business. When the review is left publicly, respond publicly. It’s an opportunity to show consumers you’re capable and willing to right a wrong.

Show gratitude, take responsibility, be empathetic, and apologize

  • Thank the reviewer for their time bringing this matter to your attention. Acknowledge what happened and resulted and take responsibility. Empathize with the customers feelings and apologize for what took place. Extend an invitation to engage in further discussion.

Offer a solution, unique to the issue

  • Show effort and commitment to the reviewer by offering a solution that solves the issue at hand. A 5% discount on your next order may not be an adequate amend to failing a customer today. 

Here is a great negative review reply example from Austin Bike Tours. Their response to a 2-star review showed empathy, a solution and they owned the problem. They have a great reputation with a 4.8 rating over 49 reviews, but this response shows they care and will make things right when they do fall short (which appears to be rarely).

Tips for how to Respond to Positive Reviews

Responding to positive reviews is a great opportunity to build a connection to your brand and make people feel good about being a part of it. Many businesses skip this or overlook it, but you can build a lot of goodwill with your brand fans by responding.

Think of it this way… You’ve invited all these people to your party, and this person showed up. Welcome them! Nobody likes to be left standing awkwardly wondering where to set down the casserole. Follow these tips to write an inviting reply to a positive review.

Be welcoming and grateful

  • Greet and thank the reviewer by name. Be enthusiastic and use a conversational tone that aligns with your brand

Show genuine interest

  • To show you’re engaged in the conversation, comment on a detail from the review. This is an easy way to add variety to your review replies and show your customer you’re interested in what they have to say.

Be of service to add value

  • Based on the review, provide information the reviewer may be interested in. Let them know about a new menu item coming soon or give a reminder of an important date. Preview an upcoming offer, sale, or event and invite them to participate. Being of service adds value on top of a positive customer experience, and gives future customers insight into how you do business.

Seattle Boat Company does a great job in the example below of responding to their happy customer’s 5-star review. They took the time, it’s a personalized response, and they even reinforced some of their company values for future prospects to read.

Looking to reply to your reviews and customers? We can Help.

GatherUp offers review monitoring, notifications, and in-app response tools to connect you to your online reviews so you can easily respond to your customers. Don’t ignore this valuable touchpoint and marketing opportunity. Schedule your demo today.

About The Author

Liezen Van Loh is the Product & Content Marketer at GatherUp, a customer feedback and online review platform. Liezen is incredibly curious and a digital enthusiast. Her mission, to help make customer experience the backbone of your business through feedback and reviews.

2 Replies to “Guide: Responding to Negative and Positive Reviews”

  1. We all strive to meet each of our customer’s expectations and make them happy. However, it is always impossible to make them all happy every time. But whatever their experience with our company is, it is always important that we should take time to reply to their online reviews. Replying to bad reviews will show that we care about them and it will help other customers see that we are trustworthy.

    1. Exactly! You’re right Olivia. When businesses genuinely care about customers, replying to reviews is a great way to show it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *