How to Respond to Your Online Reviews

When it comes to your online reputation, nothing is as impactful as the reviews left by your customers. There are many different types of reviews a business can receive. There are of course positive reviews left by satisfied customers as well as negative reviews left by those who may not have had a great experience for one reason or another. Sometimes we even receive spam reviews or fake reviews left by competitors, past employees, or someone who has a personal grudge against someone who works at the business. We even have to deal with reviews that were meant for a different company entirely.  

As a business owner, you have the ability to respond to reviews left about your company. You can also take action against fake reviews and spam reviews that violate the review policies of the many different review sites such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook. While we can try our best to prevent negative reviews, they are likely to happen at some time or another. How you respond to these reviews is crucial for managing your online reputation. Not only should you be responding to negative reviews, but you should also be responding to positive reviews as well.  Mortgage, real estate, and insurance professionals receive reviews based on the service that they provide. Your response to both positive and negative reviews will give potential customers valuable insight into how you conduct yourself and your business. This week we are going to take a look at some of the most common types of reviews you can receive and how to respond to each.  

5-Star Reviews 

People often ask if they should be responding to their positive reviews. The answer is a definitive yes. We have mentioned the importance of engagement on social media numerous times in recent articles. This is true for review management as well. It is important to acknowledge and engage with your satisfied customers. Not only do does it further solidify your reputation with those clients, but it also shows potential clients that you appreciate and value your customers. Hopefully your business is receiving mostly positive reviews. When this is the case, it can often be a bit time-consuming to respond to all of them. Do your best to respond to each positive review, even if it takes a bit of time. 

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  • Never use a templated message that you copy and paste into each review response.  
  • Respond to each review by mentioning the client by name or mentioning something specific that they brought up about your business or their personal experience. This shows you are taking the time to read their reviews and that you are not simply using templated messages. 
  • Your responses do not have to be lengthy, especially if you have many reviews.  

3-star Reviews 

3-star reviews are some of the most important reviews you can receive. When someone leaves a 3-star review, it means they are on the fence about your business. During their previous experience, there are likely some things they were happy with, and some things they were unhappy with. You can often get the most feedback from these types of reviews as they will go into detail about what was good, and what needed to be improved for them to consider a higher rating. Since these customers are generally on the fence about your business, you have the greatest chance of turning these reviews into 4- and 5-star reviews, so handle them with extra care. 

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  • Respond specifically to their complaints with your plan of action for correcting them. This could be an offer directly to the customer such as a coupon or discount for a future purchase. It could also be a specific plan of action that you are going to take in order to improve in the future. 
  • Never attempt to shift blame to the customer, or even specific employees, regardless of what their complaint may be. Potential customers will see that you take ownership of problems and are willing to correct them. 
  • Be thorough in your responses to these reviews. A brief review may make the customer feel as if you aren’t really concerned about the issues that they had.  

1-Star Reviews 

Negative reviews are the hardest reviews to receive and to handle. They are often harshly written and there is very little chance of turning these individuals into repeat customers. However, as a business owner, you still want to respond to these reviews. They can be some of the most important reviews you receive because your response . While you may never make things right with these customers, the effort you put into these reviews will again show potential future customers how you conduct yourself and your business.  

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  • You will want to handle these reviews much like 3-star reviews. 
  • Start by acknowledging the client’s issues and apologizing for the bad experience they had.  
  • Take ownership of the problem and again, do not attempt to shift blame to the customer, or to other employees.  
  • Respond to the client’s specific complaints along with your plan of action for correcting them. While it may never be used, make an offer directly to the customer. 
  • Be very thorough in your response. Potential clients will certainly see negative reviews so your response to these reviews is very important.  

Fake Reviews 

If you have been in business long enough, you have certainly encountered a fake review in some form or another. This could be a review from a competitor, a past employee, someone who has a personal grudge against someone working at your company, or anyone else who isn’t an actual customer. Unlike the other types of reviews in this article, you do not need to bother responding to these reviews right away. If you know the review is fake, follow the procedures of the review site you are on to have the review removed. Unfortunately, this process can take a bit of time so do not get discouraged if the review is still visible for a week or more. You may even have to follow up on the review more than once. Hopefully once the process is complete the review will have been removed. Occasionally the review will not be able to be removed for one reason or another. Here is a bonus tip for when this unfortunate situation occurs. 

Bonus Tip: 

  • Post the fake review on social media! 
  • This won’t do anything to get the review taken down, but you will often find that loyal customers will stand up for a business they believe in. 
  • Many times they will leave 5-star reviews of their own in response to the fake review you posted. 
  • If the fake review is eventually removed, you have not only taken care of the problem, but you have gained a handful of 5-star reviews from real customers! 

Reviews are incredibly important in the online marketing world. Potential customers use the reviews of past customers to evaluate and form an opinion of your company before every speaking to you. Your responses to these reviews are critical as they provide insight into how you handle feedback, both positive and negative. If you have not been responding to the reviews you receive, it is time to start!