According to a 2023 BrightLocal survey, more than three of four consumers regularly check online ratings and reviews before doing business with a company.
The popularity of online reviews has caused significant stress for small business owners who can live or die by a single positive or negative comment.
All businesses can expect to receive both good and bad reviews. What’s key is how you respond to them. Even the worst reviews can be turned around if the business owner or manager replies with a sincere desire to make things right. It conveys to prospective customers who read the review that you care.
You can also maximize relationships with clients who leave you stellar reviews by expressing appreciation for their business and kind words.
This guide reveals our top tips for answering all types of customer reviews and comments.
View Reviews as an Opportunity to Hear Your Customers
Many business owners stress out over online reviews and comments because they view them as tremendous opportunities or threats.
The truth: It’s better — and less stressful — to think of them as a chance to listen to (and enter a dialogue with) buyers.
People posting comments are doing so to be heard. It’s your job to prove that you're paying attention.
It’s critical to respond to both negative and positive feedback.
For negative reviews, take time to understand the feedback and go beyond a mere apology. Explain what you will do to resolve their issues. It's okay to reveal that you might not have a solution at the moment. If that’s the case, document the steps you are taking to bring the issue to a resolution as soon as possible.
Regarding positive reviews, pay attention to what made the customer’s experience positive. Then come up with ways to take it to the next level. A thoughtful response that goes above and beyond can easily turn a five-star review into an even more powerful asset: customer loyalty. Responding to positive reviews can also increase word of mouth and help you gain additional five-star ratings.
Consider ahead of time how you could respond to positive and negative reviews. Doing so can help relieve the stress of having to handle an emergency in real time.
Put Yourself in The Customer’s Shoes When Responding to Reviews
A review is a great way to start a conversation with your customers. What’s critical is to understand the reviewer’s mindset so you can comment with tact. Extra sensitivity is essential for negative reviews, which are often written by highly irate customers. Respond insensitively, and you can turn a brand brush fire into an inferno.
Similarly, you can diminish a positive client experience if you don’t reply to positive feedback or the response is too muted.
Rather than fearing negative reviews, approach each on an individual basis. Consider this an opportunity to connect with a dissatisfied customer and fix a problem. Think about how you’d respond to them in person if they gave you the feedback. Then do the same but in writing. It may help you win back the customer’s loyalty and demonstrate to prospective buyers that you offer top-tier and responsive service even in the most challenging situations — it may also earn a new positive review from the formerly aggrieved buyer.
Don’t Forget About Social Media Reviews
In many cases, comments on social media can be more powerful than those on standard review sites. Prospective customers must actively visit a review site and scroll through countless comments to see positive and negative ones. On social media, a negative post or comment can show up on anyone's feed. Once a post gets a certain level of engagement, more people see it. A single negative comment could disproportionately influence the public's perception of your brand.
That’s why monitoring social media is critical, looking for positive and negative references to your brand. Leveraging a social listening tool like Brandwatch makes this relatively easy. When you find any good or bad references to your company, address them as you would comments that appear on a traditional rating and review site.
Leverage Positive Reviews as an Opportunity to Promote Your Business
Responding to positive feedback isn’t just the right thing to do from a customer service perspective. It’s also an opportunity to burnish your brand and promote the products and services you offer.
For instance, if the customer compliments the service they received, communicate that it’s the experience everyone can expect. If someone likes a product or service, mention its features or benefits, and suggest a cross-sell or upsell option.
Think of this as a powerful promotional opportunity backed by a customer recommendation.
Acknowledge and Validate the Reviewer’s Feelings
When answering a review (especially a negative one), it’s critical to resolve the issue. However, that’s not enough. You must also address any feelings that are expressed. There's nothing more frustrating than telling someone how you feel about something and having it ignored.
When responding to negative feedback, make it a point to acknowledge and validate your reviewer's experience. Even if you disagree, you can't tell them that how they feel is wrong. It could result in putting gasoline on a customer service fire.
A best practice is to assess, then address. While it's good to respond to feedback promptly, the quality of your answer is more important than the speed.
Your response should start by acknowledging and validating the reviewer’s feelings. Then explain what caused the issue without sounding defensive or making excuses. Finally own up to the mistake and explain how you will solve it.
Responding to Customer Reviews: The Bottom Line
In the end, positive and negative reviews are essentially a matter of how you choose to view them. You can feel frustrated about negative comments and ignore them altogether, or you can view them as constructive feedback and an opportunity to showcase how helpful, responsive, and considerate your company is.
And by addressing positive reviews as well, you can expand their value by promoting your great services, enhancing the customer experience, and maybe even selling more to the reviewers and prospective purchasers.
In either case, it only makes sense to actively monitor and respond to reviews and customer comments.