Building a review marketing strategy and working to consistently get new positive reviews is a great start at reputation management for your business, but getting new reviews shouldn’t be where your effort ends.

You also need to reply to those reviews.

Customers have grown to expect quick replies from businesses online. In fact, many customers expect you to reply to their review within 24 hours.

So, how should you reply to your business’s reviews, and which reviews are you supposed to reply to?

Which Reviews Should You Reply to?

Most online review platforms give reviewers the chance to rate your business from 0-5 stars and comment on the reviews. For the sake of this article, we’ll call 0-2 stars a negative review, 3 stars a neutral review and 4-5 stars a positive review.

Here are the reviews you should reply to and why:

  • Always respond to your business’s negative reviews and try to make things right for the reviewer
  • Respond to all or many of your neutral reviews to find out what would’ve been the push that took the experience from three to four or five stars, and again, try to make things right for the reviewer
  • Reply to many of your positive reviews to let the reviewer know you appreciate the review

Why Should You Reply to These Reviews?

Since 97 percent of consumers read reviews, we know that local consumers who are looking for your products or services will be reading your reviews, and they’ll want to know that you engage with past customers if they had a subpar experience.

This lets the reader know that you want your customers to be happy, and that will make them more likely to choose your business.

Besides, replying to a negative review could change the reviewer’s response once you’ve solved the problem. This will give your star rating a boost and make consumers more likely to choose your business as 49% of consumers will only use a business if it has at least a four-star rating.

Now that you know which reviews you should respond to and why you’re replying, let’s talk about how to reply to those reviews.

How to Reply to Your Business’s Positive Reviews

It might seem silly to reply to your business’s positive reviews, but this is a great way to turn one-time customers into repeat customers or brand loyalists.

It also shows potential customers that you care about the customer experience, and that makes you look good. I know if I’m looking at two similar businesses in my area and one business takes the time to reply to customers, that’s the business I’ll choose.

Follow these steps when replying to positive reviews:

  1. Thank the customer.
  2. If they wrote anything specific such as “my hair color turned out great,” “they aligned my tires for free,” “the chocolate ganache cake was out of this world,” etc. mention that specific thing in your response “we love the color on you,” “the tire alignment was no problem at all!” or “we’re glad you liked the chocolate ganache cake.”
  3. Tell the customer you hope to see them again soon.

How to Reply to Your Business’s Neutral Reviews

  1. Thank the customer for their business.
  2. If they mentioned anything that they didn’t like, address that issue.
  3. Apologize.
  4. Ask the customer what you can do to make things right for them or invite them to call, email or visit you in person so that you can fix any issues.
  5. Follow up to make sure the customer is happy.

Neutral reviews can be tricky, especially if they didn’t write anything in the review. If that’s the case, follow the above steps, but ask why they didn’t have a good experience. For example:

“Hi [name], I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have an excellent experience with us! Could you please call me at [business phone number] to discuss what we could’ve done to improve your experience?”

How to Reply to Your Business’s Negative Reviews

Negative reviews. Ugh.

This is a tough one, because you work so hard to make your business a great place, service or experience. At some point, though, someone will be unhappy. There’s no avoiding it.

And, that person is likely to air their grievance with the entire Internet. Luckily, replying to the review can salvage the relationship since 70 percent of customers will return to your business if you make things right for them.

Here’s how to reply to those unfortunate but inevitable negative reviews:

  1. Take a moment to breathe or walk away from your computer. Negative reviews can be upsetting, and the last thing you want to do is reply when you’re still upset.
  2. Once you’ve calmed down, apologize to the reviewer, even if it seems unfair or even if the bad experience was their fault.
  3. Ask how you can make things right for the reviewer and mention any specifics they put in their review.
  4. Again, follow up to make sure the customer is happy.

Final Thoughts

Remember that you can’t please everyone in business. People become unhappy and write negative reviews for many reasons.

Reply to all your negative reviews, all or most of your neutral reviews and many of your positive reviews. Follow these steps and you’re on your way to a better online reputation.