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Responding to Reviews: Why, When, and How

Whether you pay attention to them or not, reviews are now a key element of your brand’s reputation and online success. Customers head to the internet to tell the world what they think about your website experience, product, and customer service, and shoppers use those reviews to determine where they will buy, and who they will avoid...

How to Respond to Reviews

  1. Greet the customer
  2. Thank the person for their feedback
  3. Reiterate something positive that the customer said in their review
  4. Address the concerns the customer had and share your company values
  5. Invite the customer to contact you offline and/or share how you want to make the situation right

Whether you pay attention to them or not, reviews are now a key element of your brand’s reputation and online success. Customers head to the internet to tell the world what they think about your website experience, product, and customer service, and shoppers use those reviews to determine where they will buy, and who they will avoid.

This means that responding to reviews is a huge opportunity to connect with your customers and show how much you care about their experience with your brand. You may grumble and moan about the effort it takes to deal with negative reviews (or to try and get new reviews), but these online reviews are really an incredible asset to your business. Never before have companies had such a powerful tool that allows their product to be talked about all over the world.

Still, managing online reviews requires a delicate balance. It can be difficult to know exactly what to say in response or when to leave a response. If you’re wondering how to respond to negative or positive reviews—or still wondering why you should care about online reviews—you’ll soon find out! We’ll teach you everything you need to know about responding to reviews, plus give you examples of how to respond.

Why Should You Respond to Reviews?

Before we get into the details of how to respond to reviews, let’s talk more about why you should respond to reviews. There are a wealth of benefits that can come from responding to your customer’s reviews. Think of these reviews as an open letter to your business. These customers aren’t talking to you directly, but they are addressing your business. If you don’t respond, you’ll communicate that you don’t care about their opinion, feedback, or concerns. Here are the top reasons you should care about responding to negative reviews and positive reviews.

Show Customers You Value Their Feedback

The most important reason to respond to reviews is that it shows customers you value their feedback, you are approachable, that you want a dialog, and that you care about them. You’ll be demonstrating this to the customer you respond to, but also to all other customers, prospects, and stakeholders who read your exchange. You’ll bring in new customers by showing that you invest in customer service and will do what it takes to make things right. Showing that you value customer feedback will build relationships and create a more loyal customer base.

Creating a dialog, and being timely, responsive, authentic, and transparent also creates one of the most valuable assets of all--trust. 

Stay On Top of Trends

As you take the time to respond to reviews, you’ll likely start to notice trends arising in those reviews. Whether those trends are positive or negative, staying on top of reviews will also allow you to stay on top of those trends and steer your business in the right direction. For example, if many customers are leaving reviews that say your prices are too high, you may consider lowering costs. And, if customers say they love the way your products are packaged, you’ll know to keep the packaging.

Retain Customers

Bringing in new customers costs your business way more money than it takes to retain an old customer. Often 5 to 7 times more. This is one of the main incentives to respond to negative reviews. By responding to an upset customer, you’ll have a chance to make things right and turn the upset customer into a happy, repeat customer. They’ll tell their friends about the experience and just may become a brand ambassador for your business. 

Improve Your Ratings

Responding to online reviews can actually raise your ratings. Customers who left a negative review might come back and leave a better review after you set things right. And other customers who read your responses to reviews may be influenced to leave a better review. This cycle will help you increase your ratings and your sales.

When Should You Respond to Reviews?

Are you wondering if there’s a special science to knowing when to respond to a review? Whether the review is positive or negative, you don’t want to respond immediately after the customer leaves the review—that would just seem creepy. But you also don’t want to take too long to respond, because then you’ll come off as negligent. Overall, the best time to respond to reviews is within 30 minutes to a few hours of the customer posting the review. At the latest, try to respond within 24 hours.

It’s best to respond to about 70-80% of online reviews, but that may be unrealistic for some businesses. If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of responding to so many reviews, set a goal of responding to 50 percent of reviews and then increase your goal from there. Any amount of responses will benefit your business. 

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

So you’ve received that dreaded negative review. It happens to even the best companies, but you may be wondering, what do you do now? In short, your response should convey concern for the customer, without compromising the integrity of your business. Be professional, genuine, and specific in your response. Stay calm and make your response unique to the individual and the situation. You can follow a basic template to ensure you cover all of your bases. Here are a few elements every response should include:

  • Greet the customer.
  • Thank the person for their feedback.
  • Reiterate something positive that the customer said in their review.
  • the concerns the customer had and share your company values.
  • Invite the customer to contact you offline and/or share how you want to make the situation right.

By following the above template, you’ll make customers feel valued and heard. You’ll be able to take the conversation off the internet and find a way to make the customer happy, without sacrificing your reputation or values.

Responding to Negative Reviews Examples

Here are some examples of how to respond to negative reviews:

  • Hello Peter, thank you for taking the time to leave us a meaningful review. We appreciate your feedback and value you as a customer. We’re glad you liked the design of our product and are sorry to hear that one of the pieces broke off within a few days of use. We’d like to make it right by sending you a new product and a coupon to use on a future purchase. Please email us to continue the conversation and ensure we’re able to make things right. Thank you!
  • John, thanks for your review. We’re happy to hear you were helped quickly and would love to address your concerns about the product over the phone. We want all of our customers to get the same amazing quality from our products. Please contact us so we can make the situation right.

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

On the surface, responding to positive reviews may seem easier than responding to negative reviews. You already have a happy customer, and now you just need to express your appreciation for their input.

But, it can be difficult to come off as genuine when you’re trying to respond to each and every review. Here’s a formula to help you craft a unique response for each positive review.

  • Greet the customer.
  • Thank them for the feedback.
  • State your company values.
  • Echo back the customer’s sentiments.
  • Close your response with an invitation.

This is also a good time to use your business name and other keywords relating to your business, which will boost your SEO and give your search results a positive spin. You can also add a marketing message into your response, letting the customer know about new products or about an upcoming sale or event. End with an invitation so the customer is prompted to engage with your business in a new way.

How to Respond to Positive Reviews Examples

Check out the following examples of how to respond to positive reviews:

  • Andrew, thanks for the feedback. We’re all about giving our customers quick and efficient support, so we’re glad to hear you got the speedy service we work so hard to deliver. You’re right about our extended support hours. It’s the best in the business! 

Harness the Power of Reviews

After reading this guide, you’re ready to go forward and start responding to positive and negative reviews alike. By setting the habit of responding to all reviews within 24 hours, you’ll impress your customers, develop greater loyalty, and improve your online ratings.

Here at Shopper Approved we are professionals when it comes to getting more reviews and responding to them. Check out our services for free with no credit card, obligations, or contracts for the first 45 days to see how we can help you with your online reviews!

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Duane “DJ” Sprague is a conversion rate expert, a Certified Behavioral Design Coach by the Online Influence Institute, and a certified expert by the Behavioral Design Academy, the Mindworx Academy, and the Interaction Design Institute. As CMO of a billion-dollar national franchise, he leveraged the power of social proof and online reviews to improve SEO and accelerate growth, as he developed and managed a comprehensive online reputation management strategy that spanned nearly 200 websites. He has written for Forbes, Small Biz Daily, and several industry trade magazines, contributed to several books and university course packs, and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as a subject matter expert. He holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition. Duane is the CMO of Shopper Approved, where he works with thousands of ecommerce websites to improve their SEO and CRO.

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