• Brooke Winter

How You Should be Responding to Online Reviews (positive AND negative)

Yep - there is a "better and best" when it comes to responding to reviews people leave about your business. The positive ones are great! Someone leaving a positive review is like free advertising to bring in even more clients.


Did you know that if you aren't responding, you can seriously discourage that customer from ever reviewing again...? Not to mention, when you let the review go without acknowledgement, you're also forfeiting future positive online business-building. By replying properly (we'll teach you how), you can improve the SEO ranking of the review AND help the review show up in search results.


There are actually right and wrong practices when it comes to handling your reviews. For instance, there are certain words/phases you shouldn't include in a negative review if you don't want this comment to come up in searches (no one needs that negativity circling around - you're better than that!).


We've broken it all down for you in this guide we created as a quick reference to Online Review Responses. Save it. Share it. Help your business friends out.


Reviews can feel scary, but we don't want them to be -- and now they aren't!


Complete Online Review Responses Guide


Positive Reviews


Why respond?

  • If a customer gave you a compliment in real life, you would say thank you. It’s only polite. And with an online review, the compliment is public.

  • Replying to the review is a chance to speak to these people too, and do some subtle marketing

  • It affects search rankings. By replying properly, you can improve the SEO ranking of the review, and help the review show up in search results for a business

Step 1: Thank the customer for the positive review and be specific.


Step 2: Use the business name and keywords in your review response to the good review.

Using the business name, category and location in your response will help the positive review appear in search results.


“The team here at [Business Name] is thrilled to hear such good feedback, and we’re proud to be one of the coziest [coffee shops] in [city name]."


Step 3: Add a little marketing to your review response.

Your reply is public and will be read by others, including future customers, so throw in some marketing! Mention a behind-the-scenes reason they had a great experience, or a new feature or promotion.


“Did you know we just started a free coffee card?”


Step 4: Invite customers to do something in your response.

Ask the customer to return, use another service, or spread the word.


“Next time you’re here, you should try the [insert product here]!” “We hope to see you again soon, and bring a friend!”


Positive Review Response


Dear [NAME OF CUSTOMER], thanks for leaving us such a wonderful review. We are thrilled that you loved your experience; our staff will definitely be happy to read what you wrote. We put customer experience and satisfaction as our priority, and your review reaffirms the hard work we put in every day. So thanks for your kind words and we look forward to seeing you again.


How to get more positive reviews

  • A great way to build trust and visibility with your business online is to cultivate a strong, positive online presence. How? Through positive reviews!

  • The more positive reviews you have, the less detrimental negative feedback will be on your brand when you do receive it.


Negative Reviews


Why respond?

  • You're not just replying to just the one reviewer. You're speaking to everyone who reads this review, including potential future customers.

  • Replying is your opportunity to make things right. If a customer brought a complaint to you in person, you would try to make it right. The same goes for online reviews—despite the impersonal nature of online reviews.

  • Replying shows other readers you are not shady or neglectful to feedback, and have taken steps to ensure this problem won't happen to the next customer.

Step 1: Apologize and sympathize in your response to the negative review.

Acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Even if they are unfounded, show sympathy that they had a bad experience.


“I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience.”


Step 2: Insert a little marketing in your response to the bad review.

Explain what your customers usually experience.


“We’re normally known for our exceptional attention to detail, and we regret that we missed the mark.”


Step 3: Move the conversation offline.

Provide contact info with someone at the business so they can discuss the problem in person.


“My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].”


Step 4: Keep your response simple, short and sweet.

Don't go into too much detail or ask any questions. This will prevent saying something that might cause the upset customer to add more negative feedback by replying to the review. Three sentences for your whole reply is a good rule of thumb.


***BONUS: Don't include the business name or relevant search keywords.

You don’t want this review showing up in search results!


Negative Review Response


Dear [NAME OF REVIEWER], thanks for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations. It was an uncommon instance and we’ll do better in the future.


Please feel free reach out to [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION] with any further comments, concerns, or suggestions you wish to share. We would love to make things right if you give us another chance.