Impact Insights Blog

Responding to Online Reviews: A Guide to Handling Positive and Negative Feedback

August 19, 2019

It’s not easy being in the public eye. For celebrities, politicians and brands, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the court of public opinion, which can include a mixed bag of praise and condemnation.

Negative reviews sting. Some people claim that it doesn’t matter what others think, but in reality – it does. A negative review can be damaging to a brand and while ignoring the haters is tempting, it’s not always the best idea. A carefully composed, kindhearted response can help repair or mitigate the damage and, oftentimes, deescalate the situation.

No one is immune to negative reviews, justified or not, so it’s helpful to have a plan of action in place to monitor and respond to them in a timely fashion. To show appreciation to your audience, it’s beneficial to respond to positive reviews as well, even if that means liking posts due to a large quantity of reviews. Engaging in an open dialogue can help you or your brand earn the trust and respect of your audience, attract new customers and improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results. Google scans your customers’ feedback and great reviews lead to more stars, higher search result rankings and, ultimately, more clicks.

To help guide you through the process, we’ve assembled a list of helpful tips for responding to reviews.

  • Set up a system. Designate one or a few trusted people to monitor and respond to reviews online. Set up alerts and create a schedule with calendar reminders and a list of sites to check, including Yelp, Google Reviews, Twitter and Facebook. Draft a few template responses for both positive and negative reviews, which can be used as a reference guide. Additionally, ensure that your management team is alerted swiftly when negative or damaging reviews are spotted.
  • Think it through. Before responding to a heated review or comment, pause and take time to process what you have read. Remember not to take anything personally and talk it over with colleagues or a trusted communications professional if you are not sure how to respond.
  • Respond to everyone. Positive or negative (and depending on quantity), it’s important to respond to as many reviews as possible. This shows care and concern for the customers and communities you serve and creates an open dialogue between your brand and the public. Sometimes responding to everyone is not feasible, but showing appreciation for kind reviews is an important way to build relationships with customers.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Keep your responses kind and concise. Be sure to address reviewers by name, change up your wording and thank reviewers for their feedback. When appropriate, leave useful information or a call-to-action, whether it’s contact information for your customer service line, a website link, etc. Negative comments can get under your skin, but resist the urge to argue or get defensive. Instead, apologize or sympathize in the response, offer a resolution and re-direct the conversation offline by providing contact information and extending an invitation to connect.

Now for the moment you have all been waiting for… examples! Here are a few positive and negative review responses that earn our seal of approval (click each screenshot to enlarge):

Positive Reviews:

Why we love this: The owner responded quickly, customized the response with the reviewer’s name (censored for privacy), complimented them on their progress and kept it short and sweet.

Why we love this: This interaction made us giggle! Twitter is a great platform for interacting with customers and witty comments can earn more likes, shares and retweets.

Negative Reviews:

Why we love this: Healey starts by using the reviewer’s name (censored for privacy), takes responsibility and establishes their good intentions, thanks the reviewer, provides contact information and encourages them to contact the manager. By responding and attempting to move the conversation offline, Healey leaves their footprint on the negative review and shows other readers that they are committed to addressing this incident.

Why we love this: Wendy’s sympathizes with the reviewer and asks them to contact them privately so they can rectify the situation.

At the end of the day, your customers’ opinions matter. Encourage feedback by linking to review sites on your website or via email marketing and set up a monitoring system that works best for your business. By engaging with your customers online, you can help shape your brand’s narrative positively – no matter how the interaction started.

Additional Resources