How to Respond to Positive and Negative Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are an important tool for both businesses and consumers. Businesses rely on valuable feedback to improve their service and better serve their customers. At the same time, consumers admit that their purchasing decisions are often influenced by customer reviews. In addition to the reviews themselves, businesses need to be mindful of how they respond to these reviews. Responding to online reviews is critical for building a positive online presence. After all, a great response can mean the difference between an angry customer and a loyal one. It is important that businesses know how to respond appropriately to all reviews, both positive and negative. Here are some tips for responding to reviews in a way that fosters a strong brand reputation. 

Responding to Positive Reviews

A positive review surely won’t drive customers away so you may be wondering if it even requires a response at all. The answer is a resounding “yes!” A positive review equals the chance to seize an opportunity. Responding to positive reviews is an easy way to engage with happy customers. This helps establish a stronger brand identity while also building a more personal relationship with the customer. In addition, online reviews are public so this public conversation can be great for your business. Here’s how to respond to a positive review:

Thank the customer and be specific

You want the customer to know there is a real person behind the reply and that it is not simply an automated response. You can do this by mentioning the specifics of the review such as, “Thank you for your kind response regarding our barista Jennifer. She is a great addition to our family.” Acknowledge the customer and let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to give you a review. Showing gratitude is just another way to demonstrate excellent customer service. 

Use the business name and keywords in your response

It is important to include your business name, location, and a few keywords in your response, as this will help your positive review appear in search results. For example, “The team here at (Business name) is pleased to hear your positive feedback and we are proud to be one of the best (coffee shops) in (city). This positive review is more than just an accolade. It’s a chance to boost your online reputation and increase your brand awareness. 


Incentivize them to come back

You want to make these happy customers feel excited about coming back by extending an invitation to return to your business. This is a great time to do some marketing and include information about a current promotion. For example, “Are you familiar with our free coffee card?” Reward the customer by providing an incentive for them to return. This is also a great opportunity to mention other products or services. For example, “We are glad you loved our latte. Next time you should try one of our homemade pastries.” 

Responding to Negative Reviews

Though not as much fun as responding to a positive review, it is important to provide a polite and timely response to a negative review. No matter how great your business is, you are bound to get a negative review from time to time. While it can feel frustrating and discouraging, use these negative reviews as a way to show off your excellent customer service. The right response might just resolve the problem while also improving the customer’s opinion. Here are a few ways to respond to negative reviews:

Start with a thank-you

Even though the review is negative, you always want to start by thanking them for providing feedback. Keep in mind that every piece of feedback can help you take steps toward growing your business. 

Address the reviewer personally

Your customers want to be heard and they want to feel acknowledged. Therefore avoid a generic “Dear guest” and instead address them by name. Taking the time to personalize your response will let the customer know you value their feedback. 

Apologize and sympathize

Saying you are sorry lets the customer know that you are humble enough to admit your mistakes. Even if it’s not your fault, apologize anyway. Keep the apology simple and let them know you are genuinely sorry for their inconvenience. A genuine apology can help to build trust between your brand and the customer. 

Take responsibility

Never make excuses. Even if the incident was isolated, you never want your customer to feel as though their feelings are not valid. Rather, acknowledge the complaint and reassure the customer that you hold your company to higher standards. For example, “We aim to deliver great service and we apologize that we did not meet your expectations.” 

Make things right

Try to avoid cookie-cutter responses and address the specifics of the problem. Then, offer a solution or communicate any changes that you have made or will make as a result of their feedback. For example, you may offer a complimentary menu item to encourage the customer to give you another chance. Or perhaps you can invite them to return to your business and enjoy a discount on their next service. Take ownership and promise to make things right in the future.