Why You Should Be Responding to Reviews — Even the Negative Ones

If someone walked right through the front door of your business to raise a complaint, ask a question, or offer you some praise, would you say nothing in response and show them the way out?

Of course not!

So why do that online?

The hard truth is that when you don’t take the time to respond to consumer reviews, you’re essentially doing just that — slamming the door in the face of people who’ve taken the time to support your business.

Why You Should Respond to Reviews

Did you know that 75 percent of businesses don’t respond to reviews at all?

Kind of crazy when you think about it — especially because 89 percent of people look for responses from the owner when reading reviews and over half of all reviewers expect a business to respond to their review within seven days.

Consumers turn to platforms like Yelp and Google for all sorts of information: recommendations on where to eat, what to buy, who to do business with, what they can expect from doing business with someone, answers to questions they might have, how their products or services work, and so much more.

And when they go to those platforms and see tons of reviews but no responses, the bottom line is that it paints the business in a bad light. 

So by not responding to reviews, you’re not only chasing away current customers by not dignifying them with a response — you also risk driving off potential new ones as well.

It’s incredibly important to form strong relationships with your consumers, both current and future. In fact, business owners that respond to just one fourth of their online reviews, on average, earn 35 percent more revenue. In addition, consumers who shop at businesses that respond to reviews spend almost 50 percent more money than they do when they shop at places that leave consumers hanging without a response.

In sum, you should be responding to reviews because your customers expect you to — and because doing so paints your business in a positive light. In fact, 41 percent of people say that when businesses reply to their online reviews, it makes them feel like the company really cares about their customers. 

Who would’ve thought that a simple “thanks for stopping by!” could go so far?

And just think about it for a moment: If someone leaves a negative review on your platform and you don’t respond, you completely miss out on the chance to try and clear things up and make them better. And what if they lie in their review? It happens a lot more often than you might think — and if you don’t respond, people will never know the things being said about you and your business are actually lies.

If you’re not consistently checking these platforms to see what people are saying, if you’re not responding to them with grace, poise, and respect, if you’re not dignifying your people with the response they deserve, then you’re really missing out on building concrete relationships, painting your business in a positive light, and closing sales.

How to Respond to Reviews

Now that you understand why you absolutely should be responding to reviews, let’s dive into how you might want to go about writing your responses.

A rule of thumb: Always keep your responses centered on the reviewer, and always respond to them by name. Try not to talk about or promote yourself too much — the reviewer already decided to get involved with your business, and salesiness will only serve to drive them (and other readers) away. 

Another thing you’ll want to try your best to do is to tie in several details from the review itself. For example, if they mentioned a particular product or service you provide, mention it in your reply! This will make writing your response a lot easier, and it’ll also show the reviewer that you actually read their post. 

Of course, not every reviewer will write something alongside giving a star rating, so it’s totally okay to respond more generally to these types of reviews.

Positive Reviews

Positive reviews are pretty easy to respond to: Simply thank them for stopping by, maybe suggest another one of your products that they might like, and invite them back!

Something like, “We’re so glad to hear you enjoyed your meal, Name! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your support. We absolutely have to ask: Have you tried X Dish off our menu? It’s got a really similar flavor profile, and we think you might enjoy it. Whatever you decide to try the next time you stop in for a bite, we look forward to serving it up to you with a smile!”

Have a little fun with it, get creative, let the compliments in your reviews speak for themselves, thank the reviewer, invite them back, and you’ll be set up for nothing but success.

Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are bound to happen — but that’s okay! A little constructive criticism is how we grow, after all.

And what’s more? Ninety-five percent of customers become suspicious of a rating if there are no negative reviews, so having a few is actually a good thing!

When writing your responses to negative reviews, you’ll want to do your best to balance the right amount of compassion and empathy for the issues raised alongside a strong yet respectful defense of your business.

Let’s dive into a little example so we can see this in action.

Imagine you receive this review: “I stopped in on Saturday and had to wait an hour to be seated. My server, Jane, was nowhere to be found the entire night — and by the time my food finally got to my table, it was stone cold. Couldn’t even eat it. Shame, because I used to really like this place. Wonder what happened?”

You might write something like, “Hey there, NAME. We’re glad to hear you stopped in to see us, but we’re really sorry to see we might’ve dropped the ball a bit this time around. To be honest with you, Saturday night was pretty crazy — but rest assured that we’re working hard every day to iron out the kinks in our service. I’m also going to be addressing this issue with Jane and the rest of my staff so it won’t happen again. We’d love the chance to make up for any mistakes we may have made, so if you’d ever like to stop in and give us another shot, please know we’ll do everything in our power to show you we’ve still got the same great service and tasty dishes that made you first fall in love with us.”

In short, be human. Be kind, be compassionate, and stick up for yourself in the process, especially if the reviewer stretches the truth or lies. 

And always remember: We all make mistakes sometimes, but it’s how we deal with these mistakes that really matters.

Let’s Stay in Touch!

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog! We hope it helped you embrace the power of responding to reviews, but if you have any questions about anything here — or something else entirely — our team of digital marketers here at OpticTour would love to lend a hand!

Whenever you’re ready, you can get in touch with us by filling out this contact form.

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Austin, Texas

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