How Do I Respond To An Online Review [A Guide]

Table of Contents

    Oh No! It happened. You got a bad review and it’s not a 4 or even a 3 star. It’s a 1 star! It’s heartbreaking, I know. You work very hard and you understand that you can’t please everybody all of the time and you’ll run into it every now and then.

    But to see it in black and white for all to see is disheartening. As a business owner, it can hurt.

    Yeah, we know, we can’t take it personally. But we are close to our work and customers so to see this can ruin a morning.

    Table of Contents

    1. How To Managing Your Reviews
    2. Examples of How to Respond to Reviews
    3. How To Draft A Review Response
    4. Online Review Policies and How To Remove Them

    Reputation Management Video Playlist

    How To Managing Your Reviews

    Step 1. Don’t panic.

    Respond to any bad online review calmly and professionally. This will show how your company is determined to rectify the issue while showcasing your business in a better and more productive light.

    You can’t ignore the review, and you can’t return fire.

    As the above stats highlight, people want to hear from you; the good and the bad. It’s about that trust factor that is all so important these days. It’s about the personal touch that can be missing with automation, technology, and mass marketing. Follow the rules, yes. But know that there are people in the equation with emotions and history and baggage. You can’t control that.

    In most cases, you can’t delete the review either.

    Not everyone is going to think glowingly about your business. It is impossible if you are growing and successful.

    In fact, one or two bad reviews will give your business some legitimacy. If social media users see nothing but positive comments, they’ll assume your company is deleting the bad comments or, worse, faking the good.

    How to delete a Google Review.

    Step 2. Take a moment and do a little research.

    So what do we say now? Well, before you respond take a moment, or, rather a few moments, and reflect. Don’t immediately start writing something in response. The worst thing you can do is to reply quickly. Find out who the person might be. Find out if they are a valid customer and was there a positive resolution before the review. What was the issue and who was involved?

    Does the review have to do with an employee? If so, there are always two sides so before you accuse, get some facts and ask your employee for history without emotion.

    Is the complaint legitimate? Companies should consider when trying to respond to a negative review, how credible that commentary is. Is the review repeated 3 and 4 times, can you see the reviewer’s past comments, are they consistent and make sense? If not, you have recourse and can contact the website’s owners. See below for some links that can help. If this is a review from a customer that you cannot verify, respond truthfully by acknowledging that you can’t find them in your records but don’t accuse them.

    How to Manage Your Reputation

    Step 3. Consider that the person might have a valid point.

    Consider that the review might have some valuable feedback or insight into a situation that you might not be aware of. If so, what sort of remedy might you provide? Will this begin a new process to make sure it does not happen again? Will it provide an opportunity for better customer relations? If so, let them know.

    Example of a Good Comment to a Bad Review

    Step 4. Don’t apologize immediately.

    At the same time, do not be too defensive and immediately offer an apology to the customer or client in question. The power of words simply goes a long way.  According to industry critics, a quick and professional response

    example of online review

    can restore your trust in existing and potential customers. It can also earn you some ardent online supporters along the way.

    Step 5. Respond no matter the review.

    You should respond to any review whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral feedback. Send a thank you via a private message or publicly on the review website. When customers are directly contacted, they feel business owners are going that extra mile to assist them. Here is an example of someone that didn’t even use the service but still reviewed. Notice how she mentions that she got a personal note from the owner.

    example of online review

    Step 6. What about abusive or hostile reviews?

    Depending on the type of business you run, some reviews may not be directly related to your products and services and will come across as hostile or attack you personally.

    How you handle those is ultimately up to you and will depend on your brand’s values.

    If you find a certain person is being blatantly hostile, you can ban them. It’s the last resort but sometimes necessary. You, your staff, as well as your customers do not deserve that type of language or behavior. If you rectify it by noting what happened and what you did to resolve it can help later. See our list below to the various review websites and their removal policies.

    Step 7. Will A Phone Call Help?

    If the review is so damaging, like a hotel review about a room having bed bugs, experts would say that you should call the person, if you can, rectify the situation offline and ask that the review remove the posting. Doing this by phone lends a personal touch and shows the level of customer service you believe in. If they refuse to answer or it fails to get resolved. You can note this in your comment back on the review.

    Step 8. Don’t Post Fake Reviews.

    Do not get your friends or employees or hire reviewers to spam the board with fake or generic reviews. Always assume your internet audience is smart and can easily distinguish between authentic and artificial reviews. It may temporarily boost your rating, but you can incur penalties from Google, ie. your Google Places listing might be. Please avoid this band-aid solution at all costs.

    Tell-tale signs you have fake reviews.

    • There is a spike in reviews during a short period of time.
    • Too much usage of I and Me.
    • Too much detail about the circumstances.
    • Profiles have no photos or their name is genderless.

    More on how you can tell if a review is fake.

    Step 9. Always Be Proactive and Request Online Reviews.

    Be proactive and request reviews. It is up to you and your salespeople to solicit your customers to submit their positive reviews. This can help mitigate one or two bad responses. You can encourage reviews with:

    1. Coupons
    2. Reciprocate with a shared review
    3. Post signs with QR codes to the web page you’d like to solicit reviews.
    4. Post reviews you received on your website or business and tell them where they can do the same.
    5. Request with a link on your email newsletter.

    Step 10. Monitor Your Online Reputation

    To help preserve your online reputation, be sure to check and follow the various review platforms. You need to be monitoring your online reviews as often as possible. Some sites will let you choose an option that will email you when a new review has been created. You can set up Google Alerts to notify you about new posts or reviews. In fact, the quicker you tackle these reviews, the better your company can compete in this challenging and diverse market. I can’t tell you how often, during a consultation, that I point out some very bad reviews to clients and they are completely surprised.

    Setup a Google Alert:

    How To Draft A Review Response

    Get any feelings of dread or anger out by scribbling something on a notepad. Then delete or throw it away and rewrite it professionally with positive words and an encouraging, sympathetic tone. Remember, any response you provide is the same as if you were standing in front of them, face-to-face.

    1. Address the person. Your customers want to be heard individually and addressed personally. Include a salutation and, if possible, avoid the generic “Dear guest,” or “Dear customer.” Because of social media, you can usually get a first name for the reviewer.

    2. Keep your responses as professional as possible. Try not to accuse, refute, or blame. In fact, industry experts recommend that you simply restate the company policies and speak to how you will right the wrong. No matter how offensive the review is, always assume that the customer might be right. (For the record, I don’t believe that the customer is always right.)

    For example, if a customer is upset about shipping times on a certain product, you can repeat the shipping policy, send a link and comment that delays can be expected at times. You can also add how committed your company is to their customers and work hard to make sure shipments are made on time and accurately. An option might be to offer the customer free shipping on his or her next order. This may calm the situation but can also let other customers know that you are serious in meeting customer demands within time and budget. You might even have the customer change their rating from 2 or 3 stars to hopefully 4 or 5.

    3. Apologies & Resolutions. Your response should be apologetic as well as helpful. Don’t defend yourself. Any resolution that you include will go a long way. Usually, customers want to know that they’ve been heard and that you and the people in your company will make things right. You don’t need to be a pushover but be authentic when you respond. A clear template response copy/pasted over and over will be viewed negatively.

    4. Take Some Responsibility. Don’t make excuses. Even if what happened was a rare situation or an unfortunate incident — recognize the experience of the customer. Provide reassurance at the same moment that you are keeping to high standards.

    5. Say Thank You. Show -customers that your business appreciates and values candid feedback, and always remember to say thank you in responses to reviews (even the bad ones).

    Good Examples of How To Respond to Reviews:

    Not a customer?

    Hello, [Customer]. We were sorry to hear about your experience and that your review was not a happy one. At this point, we cannot verify that you were a customer at our [store, restaurant, etc]. We would love to speak to you in person so we can resolve the issue. Please call [Phone Number] so we can see how we can help.

    Hello, [Customer]. Your review is very concerning to us. We would appreciate if you would contact our customer care team by calling [Phone Number] to speak with one of our representatives about your recent experience.

    Too expensive?

    Hello [Customer], We acknowledge that our prices might seem high but our greatest asset is our experienced and friendly team. We only hire those with true craftsmanship and a genuine interest in customer service. We are more than happy to help you in any way. Please email or call us to see how we can help you.

    Service Was Really, Really Bad?

    Hello [Customer], Thank you very much for taking the time to review our [product or service]. Your input, and the feedback from all of our [customers, guests, clients] is vitally important to us and we always want your expectations to be met. Per your comments, we have [whatever improvements/changes were made] to ensure that future [customers, travelers] are made aware of the [policy, change, etc.]. Please know that your [comfort, home, car, pet, etc.] are our top priorities. We sincerely apologize. We hope to see you again in the future and you can reach us directly at [Phone Number] if we can be of any assistance.

    We always aim to deliver a great experience. We are gutted when we miss the mark! Thanks for taking the time to bring this to our attention. We will use the feedback to make us better and to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

    Thank you for your review, [Customer]. I’m sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience, but I appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. We will try to do better. If there is anything we can do to help make it right, please call use [Phone Number] and ask for [Your Name].

    Service Not What They Expected?

    Oh no! We are sorry you had this experience, [Customer]. We will take your review into account and see how we make some improvements. Please call or email us to see how we can keep you as a valuable customer. Regards, [Name, Job Title, Email Address and/or Phone Number]

    Thank you for posting a review, [Customer], and we’re sorry to hear that your experience was not of the quality you expected. We would like the opportunity to investigate your feedback further.

    I’m so sorry, [Customer]. We’re normally known for our exceptional attention to detail, and we regret that we missed the mark.

    Customer At Fault?

    We’re really sorry to hear about what happened. I’d like to make sure mistakes like these don’t happen again. If you can contact me directly at [Email, Phone Number] I will personally make sure this situation is made right. Regards, [Name, Job Title, Email Address and/or Phone Number]

    Here are more examples:

    Online Review Policies How To Remove Them:


    How to manage Google reviews
    Google Review Policies
    How to delete a Google review


    How To Manage Facebook Reviews
    Facebook Policies


    How to manage Yelp reviews
    Yelp Policies


    How to manage Glassdoor reviews

    Better Business Bureau:

    How to manage Better Business Bureau reviews
    Video – How to respond and remove BBB complaints


    How to manage Amazon reviews
    Amazon Policies


    How to manage TripAdvisor reviews
    TripAdvisor policies

    Angies List:

    How to manage Angie’s List reviews/
    Angie’s List policies

    We Are All Human.

    Just remember that mistakes happen. We are all human. Customers get upset and complain. Think of this as an opportunity to show how your company listens and responds to all feedback. It can only help.

    For any business to thrive, it must be able to accept constructive criticism. Online reviews can give help spot problem areas and provide an incentive to improve. This includes better customer service, along with enhanced employee training. I hope this will be helpful.

    What are some of your examples of how you responded to reviews? I would love to hear it in the comments below!

    How To Respond To Online Reviews

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    Christina Hawkins

    Christina Hawkins is CEO of GlobalSpex, Inc. and a Fractional CMO for her clients. A seasoned digital marketer since 1999, Christina has designed and built exceptional websites partnering with small businesses to help them grow and increase revenue. She understands that digital marketing is a constantly evolving technology and works to stay on top of the latest changes. She is always looking for the best route for clients' lead generation needs and revenue. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina is a coach and mentor with Agency Mavericks to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is also a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup.

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