The Importance of Responding to Reviews for Your Small Business

Monitoring online reviews, comments, and questions can seem daunting, but it is crucial to maintaining a healthy online perception and relationship with your customers, present and future. Like other social media interactions with customers, reviews allow you to build a rapport with customers and learn from their comments and concerns. Most customers read more than one review of a business, and providing a well-thought and sincere response can improve your standing with customers. However, in the digital world, even the best of intentions can come across badly without the ability to read body language and voice inflections through the screen.

The number of guidelines to responding to online reviews seems to grow each week, but by keeping a few golden rules in mind, responding to both positive and negative reviews can feel like a breeze. Above all, never make it personal in a response. All responses should be written in the same manner as any other content you post to social media or your website: useful, readable, and courteous. A review response isn’t the place for a sales pitch, but can be a place for sharing new information about your business or anything else a customer may have not learned from a previous business.

Popular Review Sites


Founded in 2004 as a crowd-sourced review website aimed at helping people find local businesses, Yelp is viewed as the leader in online reviews to many people. With an average of 139 million unique visitors each month across its website and several mobile apps, the site is well known to businesses beyond retail and dining. Eighty-two percent of Yelp users check the website when preparing to spend money on a product or service, while 93 percent of those people go ahead and make the purchase at the business they looked up.


What began as Google’s social network answer to Facebook has grown into a major player in the online review world. Google+ allows businesses to connect into Google Maps for directions and one-click calling to a business. Each week 1.5 billion photos are uploaded to the website.


Facebook has matured beyond connecting college students across the country into the top mobile app for posting reviews of local businesses. The most common age demographic who use the social network are between 25 and 34 years old, making up nearly 30 percent of its total users.

Responding to Negative Reviews

No one likes to receive negative feedback or critiques of their business, but negative reviews happen to everyone. But before you penned a reply to that unhappy customer, keep these tips in mind.

Stay calm or give yourself a timeout before you respond. Always be polite and professional in your response and focus on the issue that has been raised by a customer. Even if you choose to reply privately, the same rules apply. You may have seen private messages that went viral after being shared by a customer. Decide if the negative review is even worth responding to. If the concerns raised are irrational or are given by someone who could be called a habitual complainer, you have the option to not respond. However, any legitimate concerns by genuine or high-profile customers or negative reviews on popular sites should be addressed.

Know the site rules for the website you’re responding on. The obvious rules of no swearing, attacking someone personally or breaching privacy are there, but so are specific site rules as some don’t allow using all caps or providing links in responses. You can also request the negative review be removed from the site, however, this may take some time and your petition may be dismissed by the website administrators. Look into what the customer claims happened and try to understand their point of view. This is an opportunity to improve your business. Once you have spoke with staff or employees who were on duty, contact the customer privately. Following a few common courtesy items such as introducing yourself, thanking them for their business, feedback, apologizing for their experience not being satisfactory, and outline your understanding of the issue can extend the goodwill from your end.

If the person doesn’t respond or takes some time to respond to a private outreach, still go ahead and respond publicly. Address the concern in this response and outline what you have done to resolve the issue. Other readers will see you are responsive to feedback and therefore boost your credibility.



Responding to Positive Reviews

Positive reviews are what business owners strive for every day, as they are physical proof of a job well done. Your response to positive reviews is a chance to not only show off your business, but show people how dedicated you are to customer service. However, don’t use the opportunity to make a sales or marketing pitch. Start by thanking the reviewer for not only their feedback, but patronage to your business. Reinforce the positive comment left, acknowledge any concerns or issues they may have raised, and welcome them back to your business.

Encourage more reviews by asking each customer if they’re pleased with your business and/or experience, and if so, would they leave a review online. Spread the word of your positive customer reviews by using them in sales proposals, highlight them on your website, display them in your business, and so on. Remember to share them with staff, even if no one is specifically mentioned as it can boost morale and remind staff of the impact they have on customers and their experiences.

Elevare Provides Social Media Management

Social media has become a driving force in getting your website and business found online in the last few years. Whether it’s increasing your brand recognition, sharing company updates quickly, or interacting with your customers, our team is ready to help you achieve your social media goals. With experience creating and implementing social media campaigns across platforms, we are also able to help you handle online reviews and responses. Contact us to find out how we can boost your social media presence to a new level!


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