How To Respond to Both Positive and Negative Reviews

It used to be that if you were buying a product, you either asked your family or friends if they had one or you got yourself a copy of Consumer Reports to look at their reviews for it.   Now, reviews on everything, every product and every service, are at our fingertips 24/7.  Positive or negative, potential customers are going to see them when they search for your company’s name.  Reviews can be powerful.  And they can find a wide audience.

Negative Reviews

How you handle negative reviews is a direct reflection of how you handle your business.  Most sites where consumers can leave reviews also allow businesses to publicly respond to them but before you do, assess the review and research the issue if you can so you can reply specifically to their problem.  Responses should be thoughtful and measured and you should offer a solution that they will be happy with.  Responding to a negative review with action shows that you take it seriously.

Here’s a little secret about your response to a negative review:  it’s not for the person who left it.  It’s for the potential customers that may be reading it.  If they feel comfortable knowing that if there’s a problem, it will be taken seriously and resolved, they’ll be more likely to buy your product or service.  Direct it to the reviewer, of course, but think about the bigger audience.  You want to show you and your company in a positive light.  By thinking about the right way to respond instead of responding too quickly, you’re less likely to come off as defensive and say something that will only anger the customer further.

It may be tempting to respond to the negative review privately but you should do so publicly.  Remember, the response is for potential customers so you want the public to see it.  It’s a way to introduce yourself, and your integrity, and your character to a wide audience.

Admit your mistakes.  People understand that nobody’s perfect.  Taking responsibility for your mistakes is better than denying them.  If the review isn’t specific enough to understand what the exact problem was, ask questions but be respectful.  Tell them that you want to be able to effectively respond to the issue but you need more information.  Then, come up with a way to make things right.

Once you’ve dealt with the problem to the reviewer’s satisfaction, ask them if they would consider updating their review to reflect that.

[Polite greeting, use name],

Thank you for your review regarding our [insert product or service].  I appreciate the feedback and I’m sorry that it was a bad experience for you.  

[State your actions here.  Did you speak with the people involved?  Did you research a technical problem?]  [Recommend a solution.  A replacement of the product?  A free meal?  A technical solution?]

We welcome your input and would love to hear if you have any other suggestions that can help us improve your experience in the future.  

I look forward to your response!

[insert name]

Your response should be sincere and detailed and not sound like it’s a form letter.

Positive Reviews

Responding to good reviews is much more pleasurable than dealing with bad ones.  Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a little praise for a job well done?

Positive reviews are good for business on their own but they shouldn’t be taken for granted.  You should respond to them just as you do the negative ones.

Again, your response should be personal so always address the reviewer by name.

Hello [name],

    Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to share your experience with us.  We work hard to provide our customers with [insert product or service details] and are proud when we hear from our happy customers.

    If you have any suggestions on how we could make it an even better experience, we’d love to hear your suggestions.  In fact, we loved your review so much, we’d like to share it on our website and our social media accounts.  Would you mind if we shared your review?

    Thanks again,

    [insert name]

Again, each response should be personalized and not sound like it’s a form letter.  Share a short, personal story (“When I started this company 18 years ago…”, “That pie crust was my grandmother’s recipe…”), something that makes the reviewer, and anyone else reading the review, feel like you’re talking directly to them.

Both good and bad reviews should be viewed as gifts.  They’re opportunities to show potential customers that people enjoy your company and that when a problem pops up, you can rise to the occasion and save the day.