5 Rules for Responding To Online Reviews

Did you know that 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses? Reviews can significantly impact purchasing decisions and determine whether or not someone trusts your business.

Take a minute to think about your own online reviews. This may be on social media channels such as Facebook, or popular review sites such as TripAdvisor or when people Google your business and your Google My Business listing shows up.

Are they mostly positive, negative or a mix of both?

Online reviews can be a great opportunity to promote your business, learn from customer feedback or rectify an issue.


Here are our 5 rules when responding to online reviews.


1. Don’t Take it Personally

Yes, we get it. Every day you endeavour to deliver your best products and services so your customers are happy, but what happens if you have an unhappy customer who has written a scathing review?

Take a minute and pause.

Yes, we know it’s hard but don’t react and start an online war! Take a moment and seek to understand and empathise with the person (AKA look at it from their point of view). Maybe they had an unsatisfying experience and have highlighted a customer service issue? If this is the case, they have done you a favour. The alternative is them walking away and telling their friends and family about their poor experience without you knowing about it.

Take an objective stance and think “If I was someone reading this review, what would the most professional approach be?” Take your time to clarify, rectify and respond to the review in a professional manner – and if you can, get someone else’s opinion that isn’t directly involved with the situation and have them review and proofread your response. Why? To prevent writing something in the heat of the moment that you may regret, and an independent observer may be able to assist in an objective approach.


2. Respond in a Timely Manner

We see this all the time – either reviews or replies that were ignored or responded to months down the track. Don’t wait until months later to reply… during that time you may have missed your opportunity to either thank the customer or rectify the issue when it truly mattered.

We recommend responding quickly (within 24-48 hours), or even better, reply to a positive review immediately to show your appreciation straight away!

To make sure you don’t miss any reviews, set up notifications from various sites so you are notified when someone has left a review.


3. Be Authentic

Regardless of whether the review was positive or negative, now is the time to really show the authentic side to your brand. People want to feel like they’re truly being listened to, so make sure you keep your response real, honest and conversational. Don’t forget to maintain a level of professionalism as future customers may see how you reacted to the situation.


4. Take It Offline

Once you have provided an authentic, sincere response make sure you provide a way for the customer to directly contact you offline. There are two major reasons for this:

So you don’t get trapped in a long, drawn-out discussion between a dissatisfied customer and the business.
It gives you the opportunity to go the extra mile to either rectify an issue or to thank a customer.

How do you do this? After you have crafted a short, but considerate reply add “If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number or email address].”


5. Be Wary of ‘Fake Reviews’ or Violations to Guidelines

Unfortunately, some reviews can cross the line or may be completely false. If you find yourself in this circumstance there are ways for you to have the review removed. If the review has breached a guideline this will give you the ability to have the review taken down.

What would be considered a breach? For example spam, offensive or sexually explicit content can violate many platforms such as Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor.


Here are some handy links if you do have to go down this avenue:

Google Content Guidelines

Facebook Community Standards

TripAdvisor Review Guidelines

There you have it! Reviews are a part of the online experience, and the reality is that almost anyone can review your business – so make sure you’re prepared! To help you out we’ve created a free template for you on how to reply to reviews.

Let us know if you have had an interesting online review left for your business in the comments below!

Download our Online Review Response Templates here.



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