How to respond to Reviews in general? Why is it important to do? How to respond to Google Reviews?

Author: Victoria Csiga

Google reviews can be a hugely important tool for growth for your business.

If you don’t yet have a GMB (Google My Business) page or you simply don’t take the time out to engage with your existing reviews, then you could be missing out on a lot of business.

Why are Google Reviews important?

The majority of consumers these days base their purchase decisions on reviews they read online, which makes Google reviews one of the best forms of free marketing for companies.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive marketing campaigns when you have the untapped resource of Google reviews right in front of you.

To capitalize on the benefits of Google reviews, you need to be proactive and interact with as many reviews as possible.

If you don’t have many, then your goal should be to collect as many as possible by reaching out to customers through email, or asking them to leave a review in-store.

It’s rare that a business in this day and age will be wildly successful if it has a poor star rating on Google or if it has few to no reviews. As such, it’s in your best interests to get as many as possible and keep customer loyalty by responding to them regularly.

Why should you always respond to Google Reviews? 

Think about it:

  • 94% of customers were made unsure about purchasing after they read negative reviews about a company
  • 53% of costumers expect a company to reply to negative feedback one week after posting it
  • 63% of them say they never got a response to their review
  • 45% says they would be more keen on giving a second chance to businesses that react to their negative feedback

The point is: it’s better to respond to your reviews, before they scare off potential customers in the future.

How to respond to positive Google reviews? 

If you receive a lot of positive Google reviews, it’s easy to rest on your laurels and feel like the work is done.

Yet you could extract even more value from every positive review you receive.

How?

By being proactive and responding to them.

You don’t have to write an essay in response to each positive comment, all you have to do is be courteous and thank the customer for their input.

That’s it.

Here’s a step by step guide on how you can respond to Google reviews:

  1.   First, head to your GMB page and click on the ‘reviews’ tab.
  1.  Next, simply find the review you wish to respond to and there will be a ‘respond’ prompt, which you can click to submit a response.

How to respond to negative reviews?

Reacting to negative feedback can be difficult. Words of your customers can often be hurtful, even cruel sometimes.

Your natural reaction would be getting angry – but before you get yourself worked up, the best action to take in this situation is to step away from the keyboard for a bit. Emotions can’t play a role in your professional response to a negative review.

Here’s an example:

„Dear (reviewer), thank you for sharing your review. We’re sorry your experience didn’t live up to your expectations. It was an uncommon occurrence and we promise we’ll do better.

Please feel free reach out to [contact information] with any further concerns, or suggestions you wish to share with us. It would mean a great deal to us if you’d give our company another chance to make things right.”

Think of the example above as a universal response. It’s obvious that your response should always depend on the situation. But if you examine how other highly-rated businesses reply to their reviews, you would notice that this example uses the very best methods in their response.

When responding to negative feedback, a company’s main focus should be on coming across as genuine and persona las they  can with the reviewer – show them how willing you are to understand them and sympathize with their experience. You should always offer direct contact information as well to provide the opportinuty to give further feedback if they wish so.

You can also see that the apology itself doesn’t take up much of the response either – 13% to be exact. And that’s how it should be done since if you’re overly apologetic it will come across as unproferssional.

To respond to negative reviews, the process will be exactly the same:

  1.   Login to your GMB page and scroll down to ‘reviews’.
  1.   Now single out any particularly negative comments, think up a polite response, and go ahead and submit it.

Are your customers receiving notifications of your response?  

You need to make sure that if you’re reaching out to customers and writing out responses to their reviews that they are able to see them.

Fortunately, Google will send them an automatic notification so that they should be aware of your response soon after you submit it.

While the response will become public straight away, there is a short five minute delay before they receive a notification so that you can jump in and correct any errors if you need to.

What are the most important things to take care of when you respond?

When responding to a user Google review, you want to make sure you do so correctly.

While there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to respond, there are some general rules that you should follow to ensure a positive reaction.

If you come across as hostile or impolite to a reviewer that left a scathing comment, it won’t just be that one person who feels attacked, but other customers will pick up on your distasteful response.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to respond in style:

  •  Address the feedback 

The number one priority for responding to reviews should be to address the customer’s feedback.

The worst thing you can do is tell a customer that you’ll sort the problem when you haven’t actually mentioned what the problem is. While it may seem tedious, it’s important to the customer to feel like you fully understand what the issue is so that they can be confident that you will resolve it.

  •  Ask questions

If the comment left in a review seems vague, such as ‘the facilities were bad’ then it’s worth asking a few follow-up questions to get to the root of the issue.

Otherwise, you’re not going to know how to take their criticism on board in a productive way.

  •  Be transparent

One of the top gripes many customers have with businesses is that they will try and get away with things and hide information.

Don’t be like that.

Instead, be transparent with your customers about what might have caused the issue they raised so that they can be sympathetic to your reasoning. 

  •  Ask them to update their review

Once you have successfully resolved a customer’s complaint, the best thing that can happen for your business is that they update their review.

If there’s anything better than a glowing five-star review, it’s a negative review that has been updated to reflect the steps you took to solve the issue.

How to respond to reviews in general?

Now that you understand the importance of reviews, we will show you what to take care of when responding to them in general.

7 steps to giving the perfect response – Negative reviews

1. Address the reviewer

Customers want to be heard and and addressed personally. So make sure to never forget to start with a greeting and avoid the generic „Dear customer”. 76% of reviews come from Google or Facebook so you are able to access most if not all of your customers names.

2. Say thank you

Show how much your company appreciates your customers honest feedback and thank everyone for sending their review– even the negative ones.

Some things you could say:

„Thank you for sharing your feedback. I am sorry that you had such a frustrating experience,  but we really do appreciate that you’ve brought this problem to our attention. ”

„Thank you for letting us know. We are deeply sorry that you had a negative experience with us. We strive to do better in the future.”

„Thank you for bringing this instance to our attention. Your experience helps us in progressing to be a better business for our customers. We will look into this situation and we will offer you a quick and approriate solution.”

3. Apologize

Saying you’re sorry shows others that you care about your customers and you aren’t too proud to take responibility for your mistakes.

Even when they’re not yours – and this will happen from timet o time – you should always apologize. People don’t like it when a business seems too proud or too perfect to apologize.

Your apology should be short and polite such as:

„We are sorry to hear that our services did not meet up with your expectations.”

„We apologize that your experiences didn’t meet up with your expectations. It is our fault.”

„We have always set a high standard for our company and we are sorry that it didn’t reflect in your experience with us.”

4. Take responsibility

Don’t look for exxcuses. Even if it was just a secluded incident, an unfortunate instance, acknowledge your customer’s experience. At the same time you should reassure them and let them know that you hold your company to high standards.

Some examples you may use:

„I am sorry. In general our company pays great attention to every detail and we regret that in this instance we missed the mark.”

„Our goal in every situation is to offer a great experience to our customers. We are sorry that we couldn’t do the same for you this time. Thank you for taking your timet o le tus know about it. We will use your experience as a tool for progression and making sure that nothing like this will ever happen again.”

„Thank you for your review and our apologies for the experience you had with us. We would like to investigate this matter further.”

5. Make things right

Avoid generic responses that doesn’t offer a solution to any of the problems the reviewer mentioned specifically. Make sure your reply is personalized and let he customer know how you’re determined to make changes about the issues they raised and how it will improve your business.

If there isn’t anything specific you can do to fix those problems here’s a convincing response that takes ownership and promises improvement:

„We would like to apologize to you on behalf of the whole (company’s name) team. This situation was an isolated incident. As you can see from all our other reviews we are known for our deep respect and compassion towards our customers. We can’t change the past but we can make a personal promise to you that we will fix this and we will improve. In the meantime, please accept my sincerest apologies on behalf of our entire staff.”

6. Take the matter offline

The best case scenario is if you can communicate directly with the customer offline. This is the purpose of providing them with direct contact information in the response.

Some things you could say:

„We would like to investigate this matter thoroughly. Please contact me at (e-mail) or call our team at (phone number).  We want to solve this problem as promptly as possible.”

„We are sorry to hear that your experiences at (company’s name) didn’t meet your expectations. We would like to know further details about the cause so we may deliver a better experience next time. You may reach us anytime it is convenient for you at (e-mail) or (phone number). Thank you for your review.”

7. Ask for a second chance

The best thing to do is keeping your cool when it comes to handling the customers. Instead make sure tol et them know they are more than welcome to come back to your business and when they do, welcome them with open arms. This will not only create an opportunity to change the tone of the conversation but also showcase your confidence in your company and your ability to offer a better experience for them.

Here’s an example:

„Thank you for letting us know about this. We are very sorry your experiences didn’t match your expectations. Please contact us at (phone number) or ask for me personally the next time you are at (company’s name).”

Tips for answering rating-only reviews

Before we look at some examples, let’s talk about a more and more popular trend: rating only reviews.

With this type of feedback there’s no text, just a star-rating. And giving a response to a blank, 1-star rating can be challenging. The best course to take is to keep the reply short and to the point. Ask your customer to elaborate on the issue in a private message and provide contact information like this:

„Please contact us at (e-mail) so we can discuss your personal experiences with our company. Thank you.”

„We are sorry to see that you didn’t have a great experience at (company’s name). You deserve better. Please reach us anytime at (e-mail, phone number). We would like to make things right.”

Examples: How to respond to negative reviews?

Responding to a negative restaurant review

Restaurant owners know that a plate of delicious food doesn’t always guarantee a 5-star rating in every case.Let’s examine the following reply to a review that raises issues not only related to the food.

Why this works?

The owner in their response expresses their apologies while acknowledging the fact that the customers experience could have been better. They also offer numerous ways for a better, more satisfactory experience in the future, while being professional and polite.

Responding to a negative hotel review

When a returning customer expresses their disappointment in relation to a hotel, the executive assistant manager delivers a great reaction to the situation:

Why this works?

The response starts with a greeting and a thanks. Besides, the manager was very specific regarding the customer’s experience and provided information about how the business plans to eliminate the mentioned issues.

Responding to a negative financial services review

Negative feedback can be given to banks and other kind of financial service providers. If you respond as soon as possible you can minimize the possibility of these reviews scaring away other, potential clients.

Examples:

„We are sorry to hear that you didn’t feel like you’ve received a 5-star experience at (company’s name). We would love to know more about it so please contact us at (e-mail).”

„We greatly appreciate the you chose our services and we’re deeply sorry that we let you down. We’d like to discuss further details about this situation so we would know how we could improve. Please contact us at (e-mail).”

Why this works?

These responses feel sincere, not defensive. Sometimes a simple thank you and a sorry is enough. Also take note of how you should always provide contact information in these situations.

Responding to negative travel and hospitality reviews

The JetBlue Airways’ twitter account serves as their main customer service tool. In this instance, a customer complaing about a faulty TV and the company didn’t hesitate to address the issue almost immediately.

Why this works?

JetBlue’s swift response is quite impressive. Although it is not an official review but a twitter-reply, the short response showed sympathy towards the customer while offering a solution to the issue as well.

The best methods to use when responding to negative feedback

Respond in a timely manner

As we’ve mentioned before, more than 50% of reviewers expect a company to reply to their feedback within the first  7 days of posting it.

One out of four has an even lower toleance and expect an answer within 3 days.

That’s why you should set notifications for reviews, so you can know about all of your new reviews. It wouldn’t be too convenient to log in and out every time – so a review responding tool should come in handy when you’re dealing withh multiple reveiw platforms for your business.

Don’t forget: the clock starts ticking the moment a customer posts their review, and they are waiting for your reply.

Assign responsibility of answering

It’s be very important to have someone specifically assigned to this task within your company who’d be responsible of replying to negative feedback. And this is actually a pretty complicated thing to do because reviews could fall under marketing, operations, customer service and social media too.

Generally speaking, branch managers, social media teams, marketing staff or customer service teams are your possible options for this type of responsibility.

Specifying this authority is of grave importance – not only because it simplifies the process but at the same time it quickens the time of the reply itself.

Whoever takes ownership of this duty should be very aware of some simple ground rules and guidelines when it comes to review websites. They should be able to transform the collected feedback into valuable information for your company. And most importantly: utilize the most fitting methods for handling customer complaints in order to represent your brand perfectly.

Set the guidelines

Especially when oyur company has multiple locations and branches, most likely there are more than one person responsible for responding to online reviews.

This is why it’s crucial for your business to set an organization-wide policy for the right steps to take  when a new customer review is posted.

These guidelines should cover some fundamental topics such as:

  • the tone of the response
  • the appropriate timeline for getting back to the customers
  • who else should be involved with the reviews
  • when will it become necessary to have someone step in from higher up
  • other details that have an effect on how the company handles reviews

How to respond to positive reviews?

Positive feedback has no negative effect on your company and it certainly doesn’t scare away potential buyers. So why should you care to respond?

The short answer: reacting to  positive reviews equals seizing an opprtunity.

Here’s a universal template which you could use when replying to the  positive:

„Dear (customer’s name), Thank you for the lovely review you gave us. We are delighted to hear that you had such a wonderful experience at out company – our staff will be thrilled when they hear about this. The satisfaction of our customers is our number one priority. Your review just confirmed that our efforts are indeed worth it. So thank you again for the kind words, we appreciate the time you took for posting this review!”

When a customer personally compliments you, your natural reaction is to thank them. You should do the same online as well.

It’s not only a polite reaction but answering positive feedback is a great tool for supporting your company’s marketing strategy – it generates customer trust and calls attention to how great of a customer experience one can have at your business.

5 steps for the perfect response – positive reviews

1. Thank them

Show how grateful you are for the customer who took time out of their day to write nice things about their experience at your business. After all, good reviews and high ratings serve as very powerful social evidence for potential customers and can influence them in their decision making.

One of the most important things is expressing gratitude  towards those who left a poisitve review.

Some things you could say:

„Thank you for taking the time to leave us such a lovely review.”

„We ar every grateful for your kind words. Thank you for sharing them.”

„Your review made our day!”

2. Highlight the good parts

Positive reviews often highlight specific things that the customer enjoyed the most during their experience. Identify them and mention them in your response. This way you’re doing a little bit of marketing for that specific product/service.

3. Pass along the compliment

When the reviewer mentions a staff member by name be sure to pass the compliment along.

For example, if a customer wrote „Our waitress, Jessica, is always very polite and helpful” you should mention something like this in your reply: „We are delighted that you were impressed by Jessica’s service! I’ll make sure to let her know.”

Responding is a great way for sharing the best feedback with your team – always let them know when they did a great job.

4. Tell the customer you’d love to see them back

Make your happy customers feel welcome by inviting them back to your business. This does two things: it converts your regular customer into a returning one and shows to the other online users how much people enjoy your products/services.

5. Mention other products/services

You should be careful with this last step as you wouldn’t want to come off too pushy, as if you want to sell the customer absolutely everything.

However, the best replies always contain some form of suggestion towards another product or service. This type of response should always be specific to your business, but here are some examples:

„We are happy to hear you enjoyed our angus beef hamburger. When you visit us next time, you should definitely try our spanish menu.”

„We are delighted to hear about your wonderful experience. The next time you visit us try the shi tao massage. It’s one of our newest offers.”

Examples for responding to positive reviews

Let’s look at some examples of how you hsould reply to positive feedback.

Responding to a positive hotel review

Why this works?

You can say thank you in many ways and this response utilizes that. It is simple, well-written and personal and shows sincere appreciation towards the reviewer. It highlights how strong of a sense of community this hotel has.

Responding to a positive restaurant review

Here’s another example for an appropriate response to a positive review which showcases just how commited the employees are to their customers.

 Why this works?

Positive feedback has an obviously great effect on your company’s reputation. Besides that it’s the perfect way of boosting your employees’ morale. You can see that well in the example above.  In their response the manager promises to pass the compliment along to the employee and this way the business seems a lot more humane to the customers. He alse ends their monologue by saying he hopes to see the customer again.

Responding to a positive review with neutral feedback

It’s not an uncommon occurence when positive reviews contain some critical feedback as well. Here’s a classic example of this from a Tripadvisor hotel review.

Why this works?

The response starts and ends with saying thank you to the customer. The hotel owner responded in such a way that accepts the criticism and reassures the reviewer (and other potential clients who may see this) that the issues are being investigated.

The best methods to use when responding to positive feedback

Answer publicly

Your response to a good review might be addressed to one customer, however, your response will be read by thousands of users on websites like Google, Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor.

So don’t restrict your answer to be a private ’thank you’ to the customer in question. Seize the opportunity to reinforce the positive aspecccts of the review and show the world how much you care about your reviews – whether they are good or bad.

Share with your team

There’s no better way to share with your team what makes the customers happy than showing them the ratings and reviews. This way you can encourage them to continue with their great behaviour.

This increases the satff morale so definitely share the reviews (and your support) for the success of the team.

Share it with the world

When your business continues to bring in 5-star reviews and dazzling feedback online, don’t hesitate to share them on your social medias.

You can find dozens of review widgets at Trustindex, which allow you to showcase you reviews on your own website, thus increasing your SEO!

Don’t forget: customer-generated content such as reviews are a lot more powerful and effective than any paid promotion.

How to respond to neutral (3-star) reviews?

As expeccted, neutral reviews are usually mixed with both positive and negative feedback – which means you need to use what you can apply from the previous two sections and choose the best course to take when it comes to replying to the given situation.

3 star reviews are often short and lack details. It’s because the customer didn’t have a strong opinion or feeling regarding their experience to elaborate on them.

Here’s an example you can use when replying to neutral reviews:

„Dear (customer’s name), thank you for the review. We would like to hear about your experiences in greater detail so we may use your feedback to offer a better experience next time. Please contact us at (contact information) with further comments or suggestions you would like to share with us. Again, thank you for taking your timet o rate our company!”

4 steps for giving the perfect response – Neutral reviews

1. Always say thank you

Before writing anything, always start with saying thanks to the customer. Show them hor much you appreciates the time they took to give your business a review.

2. Highlight the positives

When a 3-star review contains positive feedback be sure to call attention to it in your response. For example: „I am glad to hear you enjoyed (…).”

Even when the review contains some criticism your response should start with reinforcing its positive aspects. Studies show that reades are more likely to pay attention to the first 100 words of a text.

3. Accept the negatives

When your neutral review comes with negative feedback, acknowledge these specific issues that the reviewer mentions. You could also provide a short explanation and apology for what happened.

4. Make it private

If you ask the customer to provide further details do so by making it clear that you would want to discuss this in a private manner. This way you can investigate the situation on greater details while also preventing the possibility of the negative details going public.

You could say something like: „Your trust means a lot to us so if you have any further comments about your experience, please feel free to contact us at (e-mail).”

Examples for responding to neutral reviews

Responding to a neutral service review

A beauty salon reacted this way when given a neutral review:

Why this works?

The response highlights the positive aspects of the customer’s experience while providing information that could be useful for her since she didn’t understand the high prices of the salon. This reply shows the great lenghts this business goes to make sure they provide quality services and products to their clients.

Responding to a neutral restaurant review

A restaurant in Chicago was given this 3-star review on Yelp and was followed up with an ideal response from the place’s manager.

Why this works?

Just like the review, the reply is short and simple. The manager thanks the customer’s honesty while expressing their desire towards investigating the details of the situation so that the restaurant could deliver a better dining experience next time.

Responding to a neutral retail review

Here’s another good example on how you should handle mixed or neutral reviews.

Why this works?

In their response the business owner takes responsibility for the incident in which the customer received a flower arrangement that differed from the one on the business’ website.

The owner is also quick to apologize for the order not being up to the company’s usual standards. Then he closed the reply with an invitation for private discussion and also offered to send a new, better quality replacement for the flower arrangement, free of charge.

How to respond to employee reviews

The ability to attract and retain the best talent is an invaluable fact for success and progression for any organization. This is why it’s cruital for the upper management and HR to embrace online reviews and public employee feedback on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed.

Think about this:

  • 83% of candidates will research a company’s employee reviews and feedback when deciding on a job
  • Besides, 84% of them says the company’s reputation is a very important factor when looking for a job

By responding, you can increase engagement with the employees as well as improve the overall employee experience.

Businesses that reply to these reviews provide extra reassureance for their applicants, especially when they see that you – as the employer – are active on these employee review sites.

So don’t miss the opportunity to show your current and future employees that your company is open and grateful for feedback, appreciates employee’s experiences and is continuously strives to make the workplace better.

The best methods to use when responding to employee reviews

Reply in a timely and organized manner

The first step is having an organized method when it comes to responding to this type of feedback. It’s cruical to be timely – be it once a week or once a month, find a rhythm that works for your whole team.

Show gratitude

When you answer, make sure you start with saying thank you regardless of whether the reviewer is praising you or highlighting areas that need improvement.

Respond professionally and authentically

The most powerful answers to employees are respectful by acknowledging the feedback in a professional and authentic manner.

Take action

Correct any organization-wide issues that is mentioned in the review. You can improve employee experience by utilizing these reviews. This not only strengthens your position as an employer but creates a happier, more productive workplace.

Ask for further details

It could be difficult to ask for more details – especially since sites like Glassdoor are anonymous. You have to respect that anonymity and encourage the reviewer to send private feedback to your HR team instead.

For example, an employee may feel more secure being anonymous on Glassdoor when giving negative feedback about their boss but would feel uncomfortable if they had to do the same in person. Direct them to your HR team, this way you can gain further details about their experience and make them feel comfortable doing it at the same time.

Examples for responding to employee reviews

The best response highlights or reinforces the positives, using the opportunity to show how strong the employer brand is. Let’s look at an example:

Why this works?

As you can see the response elaborates on the positive aspects of the review while acknowledging the reviewer’s worries, but not before thanking them for the feedback.

Here’s another example:

Why this works?

A short and simple response that shows gratitude towards the reviewer taking their timet o send their feedback. This company, DocuSign, does this with every one of their reviews, thus demonstrating how much the company cares about their employees and their work experiences.

The key to an efficient response is acknowledging and understanding the employee’s personal, individual experiences. This is benefitial for the whole organization since it increases employee satisfaction.

Should you reply to every single review?

What would be the ideal response rate? Should your company react to every single review they get?

The short answer is: it depends. There are mutliple factors which need to be considered.

Think about which review website is the most important to your business

Not every one of the review sites will be relevant to your company. Understanding which ones have the most impact on your business will help you decide the real value of reviews.

Hotel ownersand hospitality executives for example, should definitely respond to theis Tripadvisor reviews. Restaurants should reply to their Yelp reviews, while local businesses should pay attention to their Google ratings.

Don’t respond for the sake of responding

By this I mean don’t reply just to send out the same generic ’thank you for your reveiw’ to most of the feedback you receive. Take the timet o personalize your responses and make them unique.

This ensures that your responses will meet every review site’s guidelines.  Some of them, like Booking.com won’t accept the replies if they are completely the same.

When you respond to negative reviews do so for keeping the balance, not for the sake of blaming the customers. Don’t forget: the way you respond to the negative feedback says a lot more about your company than about the review itself.

Take into account the number of reviews you get

If you only have 4 or 5 reviews on your profile, the best thing to do is responding to evey one of them. However, you don’t need to aim for the same 100% response rate if you continuously get dozens or even hundreds of reviews from different websites daily.

Rating only reviews or comments that are about 5-6 words long probably won’t have a deep impact on your online reputation. When deciding which ones to answer, choose the detailed feedbacks that calls for an informative response. You can use these to increase the customers’ engagement with your business while also highlighting your company’s strong suits.

Final thoughts

Online reviews influence the way your business is perceived by consumers.

It’s important to keep in mind that your reputation is not only dependant on what you say about your company, but also what your customers say about it on online review websites.

While it can feel like you have little control over how potential customers perceive your business, you can still take an active role in improving your online reputation. One of the best ways to do that is by responding to reviews.

By replying to negative, positive, neutral and employee reviews – and utilizing the aforementioned best methods there are – you too can have a positive impact on your brand’s online reputation, thus boosting your finances.

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Category: Tips and tricks