As an SMB owner, you have a lot on your plate. Sorting sales and orders, dealing with customers and staff, ticking the tax and payroll boxes. It’s not surprising that other jobs, like dealing with online reviews, can slip down the list.
Even if it’s not your highest priority, dealing with reviews is an important part of managing your reputation online. Tracking reviews on various platforms, requesting reviews from customers, responding to negative and positive reviews – it’s all part of building a strong online presence. But as your business grows and more reviews pour in, it can become a time-consuming task.
Need to keep up with reviews without eating into that precious work time? Cut and paste our review templates to make it quick and simple.
Why responding to reviews is vital.
How you respond is almost as important as the review itself. In fact, research shows that 48% of consumers prefer to buy from a business that’s responsive, and value reviews over star ratings.
Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and care about their problems, which helps you strengthen relationships and build trust with your audience. One survey found that 89% of customers were more likely to buy from a company that replies to every review, while 57% commented they were unlikely to buy from a company that doesn’t respond to feedback.
In short, customers notice when you respond to reviews and they care if you don’t. They want to know that a real person is listening to their concerns, that someone will help if they have an issue, and that complaints aren’t just falling into a digital void. It’s also an opportunity to turn a negative perception into a positive one – according to one survey, 56% of consumers have changed their perception of a business after reading a response to a review.
It’s best practice to respond promptly and reply to as many reviews as you can. This is particularly true for negative reviews – if you wait weeks, the original customer is less likely to see your response and the damage is already done.
What makes a great response.
Whether you’re crafting a tactful reply to a nasty, unjustified complaint or responding to glowing feedback from a happy customer, responses should be positive, friendly and solution-focused. Avoid being aggressive or contradicting customer perception directly, instead, try to stay calm, constructive and professional.
Generally, review responses should include these elements:
Thank the customer for taking the time to get in touch.
Include details about the customer’s experience with your business. For example, if they talked about great customer service, mention that in your response. If they are complaining about a specific aspect of your product, refer to that with an apology.
At this stage, responses diverge. If you’re dealing with a positive review, use this space to invite the customer to call or email if they’d like more information about your business. For negative reviews, this is where you offer a solution – a refund, discount, replacement or freebie. You can also invite them to get in touch via email or DM to discuss the issue in more detail.
Your review toolkit.
If you’re spending far too much time coming up with appropriate responses to reviews, templates can be a lifesaver. Keep them handy, then copy, paste, and tweak to fit the specific instance you’re dealing with.
We’ve come up with some boilerplate responses to common types of review below to get you started:
Inaccurate or unfair review.
What happens if you get a low rating along with completely inaccurate or unfair feedback? While it’s tempting to respond with anger or snark, it’s important to stay calm – remember, your other customers could be reading, too.
Thanks for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry to hear about your experience with our [product, service or location]. It sounds like [explanation or rebuttal of details – for example, the location wasn’t open at the time].
We’d love to talk more about your issue. Get in touch on [contact details] and we’d be happy to chat.
Accurate but negative review.
Sometimes, customers will have a legitimately negative experience with your business. It’s not fun to get these reviews, but they’re a good chance to apologise, offer a solution and potentially repair your relationship with the disgruntled customer.
Thanks for reaching out to share your experience. We’re sorry to hear that [details of issue here] didn’t live up to your expectations. We’d like to offer you a [refund/redelivery/voucher] to make it up to you – please get in touch on [contact details] so we can make that happen.
Thank you again for letting us know about your issue. Your feedback helps us improve our services and do better by our customers. We hope you’ll give us another chance sometime!
Positive ‘but’ review.
It’s a bit frustrating to get a mostly positive review with a lower rating thanks to a minor issue. A customer might rave about your hotel rooms, for example, but dock points because your lift was out of service. It can feel as if customers look for tiny issues to pick on.
However, these reviews can be a chance to play up the positives and minimise the negatives. If you can offer a solution to the problem – for example, if the broken lift is now fixed or the delivery delays have been resolved, make sure to mention that as well.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your feedback. We’re so glad to hear that you enjoyed our [details of positive experiences here]. We’re sorry to hear about the [negative issue] and we hope it didn’t affect your experience too much. We’ll be looking into it and it should be resolved next time we see you.
Intensely detailed review.
You’ll probably come across some ‘professional reviewer’ reviews. Written by influencers or people who fancy themselves as pro reviewers, these often include bullet point lists of pros and cons and tend to be fairly balanced overall. When a reviewer has made the effort to write a long, detailed review, it’s only fair to respond with an equally thoughtful and detailed response.
Thank you for taking the time to give us such detailed feedback. We’re thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the [positive details here].
Of course, we’re also happy to hear about what we can do better. Thanks for letting us know about your experience with [negative/less positive detail] – this sort of feedback is helpful as we work to improve our [service or product] even further.
We hope to see you again soon.
Short but sweet review.
Finally, we get to the positive reviews. Often, customers won’t have as much to say when they’re happy with your service. Many will leave a five-star review along with a couple of words or a single sentence about your business.
The good news? Replying to these short-but-sweet reviews is simple.
Thanks for your feedback. We’re thrilled to hear that you had a great experience with [business or location name].
We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Everyone loves a glowing five-star review with plenty of detail. These reviews are a valuable asset, giving potential customers insight into your business as well as upping your star rating.
Here’s how to respond.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. We’re so glad to hear that you enjoyed [detail from review] and [detail from review]. If you’d like to let us know more, please feel free to get in touch at [contact details].
We look forward to welcoming you back soon.
Asking for feedback.
The value of reviews is clear, but how do you encourage customers to write them? Many of your happy customers won’t think to leave a review, while unhappy customers may be more motivated to offer their feedback. One simple strategy that can help boost your positive reviews? Asking.
Make review requests part of your post-sale strategy and make leaving a review as simple as possible.
Add a line asking for a review at the end of each sales email.
Thanks for choosing [business name] for your [details of product/service]. We love to hear from our customers, so please leave a review letting us know about your experience.
To make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review, include a link to your website or most-used review site. You could also incentivise reviews with a prize draw or discount code.
Review management made easy.
As we’ve seen, responding to reviews can make a major difference to how you’re perceived online and can even be a chance to turn a negative perception around. For small business owners who need every bit of positive attention they can get, they’re marketing gold. Unfortunately, tracking and responding to reviews can be a time-consuming process.
Ready to supercharge your review responses? Use our templates to create your cut-and-paste review kit and you’ll be powering through your weekly reviews in no time.
Want to know more about maximising the value of online reviews? Download our free eBook: The complete guide to online review sites.Download eBook