How to Respond to Online Customer Reviews (With Templates!)
You are a dedicated business owner who works tirelessly to provide your customers with the very best experiences. Every day, you put in the work to ensure that your business is nothing short of excellent. You expect all of this time and effort to reflect in the online reviews of customers, and oftentimes it does. And then you receive that one negative review.
Feeling angry and confused, you are probably ready to respond to the bad review and set them straight. There is no way they had a bad experience with my business! Right?
The truth is, it does not matter how you feel in this situation. Customers are entitled to their opinions regardless of the work that you put in. What matters is that you remain professional and courteous in your reply, otherwise you risk damaging the reputation of your business even further.
The good news is that, if done correctly, your response can work in your favor regardless of the review itself. Thoughtfully replying to customer reviews (good and bad) is a crucial part of customer service in today’s online world. That is why learning how to properly craft responses is such a valuable skill to master.
This guide will help you perfect the skill of responding to online reviews, and provide you with some templates to use as a starting point.
Why Are Reviews so Important?
You may be wondering why reviews and their subsequent responses are so important anyway. The fact of the matter is that the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. This is already a lot, but consider that some read even more. 8% of consumers read more than 20 reviews! With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a negative review could lead your potential consumers to perceive your business as untrustworthy and decide to go somewhere else.
Fortunately, according to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7X more trustworthy. This means that a professional response to any review will undoubtedly help potential customers trust you more and be confident in knowing that your products and/or services will be satisfactory.
Beyond reputation management, reviews are also helpful in other ways. Positive reviews can be turned into powerful marketing for your brand, and your responses to them can help strengthen the loyalty of the customers who leave them. Negative reviews can be insightful feedback for you and your team, and your response to them can turn an unhappy customer into a customer who gives your business a second chance!
How to Respond to Negative Reviews:
Now that you can recognize the importance of properly responding to a negative review, let’s talk about how to do it effectively. As we’ve discussed, the most important thing to remember is to remain professional and objective. Leave your emotions out of it and follow these steps:
This may feel counterintuitive in the moment, but it’s important to thank the customer for their review. A simple “Thanks for taking the time to tell us how you feel” can go a long way, and shows the customer that you genuinely value their feedback.
Believe and Sympathize
Approach all reviews with the belief that they are being honest. Never accuse the customer of lying or exaggerating unless you have indisputable proof that this is the case. Furthermore, it is important to sympathize with the customer to let them know their concerns are valid and you are listening to them.
If you or someone on your team made a mistake, now is the time to apologize for the mishap. Everyone makes mistakes, and customers appreciate it when you can acknowledge yours and say sorry. However, as recommended by Google, it is also important that you don’t take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. If you genuinely believe your business made no mistakes, try saying “I’m sorry you had a bad experience” instead of accepting blame for something you did not do.
Provide a Brief Explanation
Sometimes, an explanation of what went wrong may allow the customer to empathize with you. If there was a very clear reason why something went wrong, (Your credit card system went down unexpectedly, there was a brand new employee taking orders, etc) then you can let the customer know. However, what’s even more important is that you let the customer know what you will be changing to prevent the issue in the future. Do not use this as an opportunity to simply list excuses. Instead, show the customer that things will be different next time.
Reiterate the Positive Points
Sometimes negative reviews aren’t all bad. Say you received a 1-star review from a customer who had a lovely meal at your restaurant but says that your bathroom was gross and unsanitary. Apologize about the bathroom experience, but also be sure to restate the fact that they really enjoyed their meal! Ex: “Dear (customer), we are so happy to hear that you enjoyed a delicious meal today. However, we understand that your experience in our bathroom was not up to our regular standards. We are so sorry about this and…”
Move the Conversation Offline if Necessary
At this point, you can decide if you want to offer more to the customer who left the review. This could look like a full refund for a product they purchased, or maybe a discount on future purchases. Whatever it is, it is best to move the rest of the conversation offline. Your public response should be as short and sweet as possible. If you need to discuss specifics in further detail, provide the customer with a way to reach you to continue the conversation.
Negative Review Response Template:
Dear (insert customer name),
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us some valuable feedback. We understand that (insert problem here), and we are truly sorry that this happened. Unfortunately, (insert brief explanation here), which is why we were unable to provide you with our typical high-quality experience.
Of course, this does not excuse the fact that (insert problem here) happened, so we want to make it up to you. Please reach out to us at (insert contact information) so we can discuss the situation and fix the problem for you!
(insert your name)
Removing Negative Reviews:
In most situations, a thoughtful reply is the most effective way to deal with a negative online review. However, there are certain situations in which you can pursue the removal of a negative review altogether. This will only work for reviews that are completely false or inappropriate. On some of the most popular review sites (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.) you can flag and report reviews if they:
- Use explicit language or derogatory content
- Were written by a competitor or past employee who did not use your services
- Are not on record as ever being a customer of yours
- Contain spam
If your business receives any of these types of fake or inappropriate reviews, it may be possible for you to report them and get them removed.
How to Respond to Positive Reviews:
Responding to positive reviews is an excellent way to build strong relationships with current customers, and also help future customers feel like they can trust you more. Here is how to effectively respond to a positive review:
Again, it is so important to thank the customer for taking time out of their day to provide you with a review. Show them that you value their feedback!
Take the Opportunity for Marketing
If the customer had a satisfactory experience with your business, take the time to explain to them what made it so great. Were they impressed with the quality of one of your products? Tell them some of the ingredients that make it so great. Were they satisfied with the atmosphere in your building? Explain the steps you took to make it that way!
Provide Incentive for Them To Come Back
You want this happy customer to keep coming back. Don’t just invite them, give them a reason to come back! Use this opportunity to provide a personalized incentive based on the experience they had. Ex: “We’re so glad you were satisfied with the shampoo you purchased, next time you stop by we will provide you with a free sample of the conditioner as well!”
Share the Review With Others
Really positive reviews make for great marketing material. Take this positive review and share it on your social media! This will provide potential future customers with some great social proof that they can trust you and your brand.
Positive Review Response Template:
Dear (insert customer name),
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us some valuable feedback. We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed (insert product or service). Did you know that (insert fun fact about product or service)?
Because you were so happy with your (insert product or service), we want to give you the opportunity to enjoy a (insert complimentary product or service here) as well! Next time you visit, ask for (insert employee name here) and we will provide you with (insert incentive here)!
(insert your name)
By now, you understand that the way that you respond to your customers online directly affects the reputation of your business. We hope this guide helps you write effective responses to online reviews and build stronger relationships with all of your customers!