Our research has found that 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. But getting more reviews is only the first step. Many small businesses wonder if it’s necessary—or worth the time—to respond to reviews. The simple answer is: yes. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re positive or negative. Here’s why.
Why Responding to Reviews Matters
Every review is an opportunity to form a better connection with your customers. When consumers see a brand respond to an online review, 41% see that as a sign that the brand really cares about its customers.
Responding to a positive review is an opportunity to turn a good customer experience into a great one—and that’s the kind of service that turns one-time purchasers into lifelong customers. Taking the time to respond to positive reviews is a great way to show that your business cares and is proud of the experience they were able to provide.
Responding to a negative review gives you a chance to earn back trust. If a customer sees that you’re making an effort to resolve issues and avoid future problems, they’ll be much more likely to do business with you again.
But whether you’re dealing with a positive or negative review, we know it can be intimidating to post a response. Not only are you talking to the person who left the review but your response will also be viewed by everyone who reads your reviews, including future customers.
The good news is, with enough practice, responding to reviews will start to feel more like a habit and less like a scary task on your to-do list.
Here are a few dos and don’ts to get you started.
Dos for All Reviews
→Do: Respond in a timely manner. Not only will you look better to your customers and search engines like Google, but you’ll also be able to stop any negative comments before they get too much traction.
→Do: Make it personal and meaningful. Address the customer by name and don’t use the same response for every review. Personalize where possible by mentioning the product or service being reviewed.
→Do: Show your gratitude. It’s important to say thank you whether or not the feedback is positive. You want your customers to know you appreciate the time they took to engage with you.
Dos and Don’ts for Negative Reviews
→Do: Apologize. A negative review may seem unfair but it helps to acknowledge a customer’s personal feelings by apologizing for any inconvenience or problems they may have had.
→Do: Take the conversation offline. Invite the customer to contact you so you can discuss the issue privately. Not only is it easier to resolve the issue via a text, an email, or a phone call, but further conversations also won’t be public for anyone to see.
→Don’t be defensive. Even if the criticism seems unfounded or inaccurate, it’s best to acknowledge their concerns in a calm and courteous manner. At the end of the day, it’s about salvaging relationships and learning from mistakes, not about being right. Don’t forget to show sympathy for their experience.
→Don’t let negative reviews get you down. According to a recent study, 70% of respondents said their opinion was changed after a business responded to a review. Even the angriest customer can have a change of heart if the situation is handled correctly.
How to Respond to Reviews on Google
Now that you know the dos and don’ts of responding to reviews, let’s talk about the hows. Knowing what to say can be tricky. We’ll teach you how to come up with the perfect response every time.
Claim Your Google Business Profile
First things first, you can’t respond to reviews if you don’t have any reviews to respond to. The first step you need to take is to claim your Google Business Profile. To do so, follow these steps:
- Sign in to Google Maps.
- Enter your business address in the search bar OR right click the location of your business on the map and click Add your business.
- Follow the instructions on the screen to complete your profile.
How to Respond to a Review
- On your computer or mobile device, go to Google Maps or Google Search.
- Navigate to your Business Profile Account
- Select Reviews.
- Find the review to which you want to respond.
- Next to the review, click Reply.
How to Respond to Positive Reviews
Responding to positive reviews may not be as nerve-wracking as responding to negative ones, but there is still basic etiquette of which you should be aware. Here are a few tips to help you formulate a response:
- Address the reviewer by name.
- Thank the reviewer for leaving a review.
- Let the reviewer know you value their business and are glad they had a good experience.
Positive Review Response Template
Still need a little help getting the wording right? Here’s a review response template you can use next time you get a glowing review.
Thank you for taking the time to leave COMPANY NAME a review. We appreciate your support and are glad to hear you loved PRODUCT OR SERVICE. Hope to see you again soon.
Negative Review Response Template
Responding to a negative review is a bit of a different ballgame. Here is a basic structure you can follow next time you get a negative review:
- Address the reviewer by name
- Apologize for the bad experience
- Offer to take the conversation offline (if necessary)
- Let the reviewer know how you plan to make it right
How to Respond to Neutral Reviews
Ahh, the middle ground—perhaps the most difficult kind of review to respond to. While it’s less nerve-wracking than responding to a negative review, it can be difficult to know what to say when responding to a neutral review. Here’s a basic structure you can follow:
- Address the reviewer by name
- Thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave a review
- Apologize (if they’re upset about the service they received)
- Let the reviewer know you aim to provide 5-star service
- Ask the reviewer how you can do better next time
How to Respond to Employee Reviews
Google’s guidelines specifically prohibit reviews that from reviewers who may represent a conflict of interest. For this reason, businesses should never solicit or encourage their employees to leave reviews.
Make Review Management a Breeze with Podium
Podium makes gathering and responding to reviews a breeze.
Local businesses who use Podium see over double the monthly review volume in less than 60 days. And by having everything on one easy-to-use dashboard, you can automate review invites, manage your reputation across multiple sites, and free up more time to focus on what you do best.