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Learn 10 Ways to Respond to Customer Reviews: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Congratulations, your business is booming, and you have new customers coming in every day! But with more customers comes more reviews for your business. 

Unfortunately, it’s not enough for your business to simply establish your Google My Business local listing on sites like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and social media sites like Facebook. Your brand must also engage with your customers and their reviews to build trust and boost your online reputation.

Responding to Customer Reviews:

Whether your company is large or small, you still need to respond to customer reviews. Responses to reviews can make all the difference in how customers view your brand. 

Respond to ALL of your customer reviews. When responding, it is important to keep a couple of things in mind: 

  1. Personalize every response.
  2. Genuinely appreciate the feedback that is given.
  3. Recognize and apologize when necessary.
  4. Respond and resolve the issue.

     

Engaging with the customer and caring about what they have to say demonstrates that you value their opinion. As an added benefit, future customers on the internet reading your response can see that you actually take the time to invest in your customers. 

It isn’t just negative reviews that need a response; positive reviews also deserve attention. Regardless of whether it is a positive or negative review, a reply shows that your business values customer feedback.  

Now that you know the importance of responding to online reviews, you may be wondering what the best way to respond is. What do you say to an unhappy customer? And how do you deal with fake reviews?

Listed below are reviews left for an espresso bar/restaurant and examples of appropriate responses to the reviews. You can translate the responses below across all types of industries. 

man holding large grinning face with big eyes emoji

3 Examples of Positive Reviews and How to Respond

Positive feedback and responses should be used to gain maximum value for your business. Your response can enhance customer interactions and be used to increase your SEO and marketing efforts. 

Follow this basic structure to respond to positive reviews:

  • Acknowledge the positive experience of the happy customer and thank the reviewer for their input.
  • Be friendly and personal. Use the reviewer’s name in the response. 
  • Repeat the positive content of the positive review.
  • Repeat the name of the business and location for SEO value.
  • Write the response to essentially close the conversation.

5-star review about the product:

“[Business] has my favourite pizza in the GTA. With a wood-burning oven hand-built from a Sicilian master, there is a brilliant, rustic excellence about the food here. High-end flour imported from Italy and carefully filtered water make this a Napoletana style pizza not to be missed!”

Response:

Thank you [reviewer’s name] for taking the time to share your experience at [business]. We are so happy to hear you found our pizza to your liking! We hope to see you again soon.

5-star review about the customer service:

“Amazing staff, they are incredibly nice and helpful. The coffee bar has top-quality coffee, and the pizza and beer selection is good, not overpriced! Also, they welcome children, which I think is great! I love this place.”

Response:

Thank you [reviewer’s name] for sharing a review of your recent experience. Our team here at

[business] is always committed to providing high-quality customer service for all ages, and we’re absolutely thrilled to hear that our staff made a good impression on you. We hope you’ll visit us again soon!

4-star review about the general experience:

“Looks like a coffee shop, but they also sell delicious oven-baked pizzas. Watch for great specials on their pizza throughout the week. Coffee is excellent too.”

Response: 

Thank you [reviewer’s name] for choosing us and enjoying our delicious coffee and pizza. We’re glad to hear that you were happy with your experience. We look forward to welcoming you back to [business] in the near future.

man holding large neutral face emoji

2 Examples of Mixed Reviews and How to Respond

Mixed reviews can be the hardest to respond to. Ultimately, the goal is to maximize customer satisfaction while also addressing the negatives in a constructive way. 

Follow this basic structure when responding to mixed reviews:

  • Acknowledge both the positive and negative parts of the review. 
  • Be professional, but also personalize the response to show that you are taking what they say to heart.
  • If the review is more negative than positive, work to continue the conversation offline. 
  • Write a well thought out response to close the conversation.

3-star review about customer service

“I’ll go back, but I hope they train the staff to be a little more customer-focused. Food and atmosphere were great.”

Response:

Hi, [reviewer’s name]. We are so glad to hear that you enjoyed the food and atmosphere of [business]. But we regret that we did not deliver our usual standard of service. Our team is committed to providing high-quality customer service to all of our guests. We hope

to see you again soon.

3-star review about the general experience

“Great pizza, good wine, delicious coffee and nice staff. Wish the food menu was bigger.”

Response:

Thank you [reviewer’s name] for leaving a review. We’re so glad you were able to visit us at [business] and enjoyed your time! Our team is always working to offer the best selection of food to our guests, and we appreciate your recommendation. We hope you’ll have a chance to come back soon!

woman holding large red angry face emoji

3 Examples of Negative Reviews and How to Respond

Responding to an online customer review isn’t enjoyable and, in fact, can sometimes be painful. Unfortunately, the cost of not answering a bad review can be detrimental to your business. Protect your business’ reputation and respond to any negative feedback. 

Sometimes the customer’s online review is unreasonable, but other times their reviews can accurately describe how you or your team didn’t meet their expectations. 

Follow this basic structure to limit the damage of a negative customer review:

  • Acknowledge and apologize, no matter who is at fault.
  • Keep professional without being confrontational or argumentative.
  • Do not include the names of the business, location, or any people involved.
  • Try to bring the conversation offline and do not engage in an argument. 

1-star review about customer service or ownership

“I used to like coming here, but the place is not the same since they changed the owners. Unfortunately. I feel sad. Horrible service and the food is not the same. Very disappointed.”

Response:

We’re so sorry to hear about your less than ideal experience with our staff. We have shared your feedback with our team in order to improve our service. We hope to have the chance to welcome you back again, and we do encourage you to contact [staff name], our [staff title], at [contact info] to discuss your experience in more detail.

1-star review about low-quality product or service

“Just tried to get an espresso and was told they had “shut down the espresso machine.” I will acknowledge it was 20 minutes before close, but you’re not a restaurant that serves espresso, you’re an espresso bar. Incredible.”

Response:

Thank you [reviewer’s name] for your valuable feedback. We’re so sorry to hear about

your recent experience. We recognize that this is not the standard of service that our customers deserve, and we hope you’ll give us the chance to make this right. Please contact me at [contact info] so that I can personally make this up to you.

1-star review about overpriced product or service

“Really overpriced. $7 for avocado toast which is literally a very small slice of bread with sliced avocado and nothing else. Plus, when you order a coffee at the table, they don’t bring any milk and sugar to your table, once your coffee arrives, you have to take your full mug back over to the milk/sugar station near the counter to sort out your milk and sugar as if you’re getting a take-out coffee.”

Response:

Thank you [reviewer’s name] for taking the time to write a review. We appreciate your comments and so sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the value of our food. We always strive to deliver an experience that meets your expectations and will keep your comments in consideration. We hope to see you again in the near future.

man holding a large woozy faceemoji

2 Examples of Fake & Mistake Reviews and How to Respond

Fake reviews are always frustrating, and it should be fairly obvious whether a review is fake or a mistake. Responses to fake reviews are written mostly for the benefit of future customers and your business (not the original reviewer.) If you believe a review is fake and have evidence to prove it, you can contact the site that posted the review with your proof to potentially have it taken down. 

The basic structure for fake or mistake reviews are:

  • Acknowledge the review.
  • Highlight a commitment to exceptional service.
  • Plants seeds of doubt by highlighting the parts that don’t make sense. 
  • Offer contact information.
  • Since fake reviews are almost always negative online reviews, do not repeat business names, locations, or any people mentioned.

1-star fake negative review about the product or service

“They cook the food in the morning and then leave it out all day on the counter. It is disgusting!”

Response:

We are committed to providing each and every customer with a positive experience. We are proud of our commitment to safety and our track record in offering high-quality food and beverages. However, it seems we failed to meet your expectations. We apologize for this issue and hope you’ll reach out to [staff name], our [staff title], at [contact info] to make this right.

1-star review for a different business

“Worst cleaning service EVER!” (Mistaken identity)

Response: 

We are so sorry you had a negative experience with your cleaning service. Unfortunately, it looks like you meant to post this on another business’ site. We are [business] an espresso bar that does not run a cleaning service. If you are looking for good coffee and pizza in [town], we would love for you to stop in and try us out!

Reviews are the cornerstone of a company’s online reputation, and there is no hiding from online reviews. Consumers are increasingly trusting online reviews and social proof to make decisions while searching for products and services. Your business has to respond strategically to protect your brand and reputation. 

While it’s sometimes possible to remove or have someone change a negative or fake review, your company can’t improve its online reputation unless you actively engage with customers and ask them to leave reviews. The more reviews you have helps to paint a clearer picture of your company and how the general public perceives it.

It may be true that online reviews can really affect your brand reputation and success, but it’s also true that there are genuine methods to keep your company’s online reputation intact. If you stand by your company’s products or services, you shouldn’t be afraid to hear what your customers have to say. The upside is you will build customer loyalty and show that your customer’s experience is important to your business. 

Celebrate the good reviews and learn from the negative reviews.

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