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How to be Human: Respond to Reviews with Sincerity & Success

Responding to Online Reviews with Sincerity and Success

As a business owner, this question comes up almost every day: How should I respond to online reviews? You’ve got plenty of resources telling you this or that, do’s and dont’s. Should you follow those guides to the tee or march to the beat of your own drummer and do what feels right to you? We know you don’t want to ostracize your reviewers or lash out, but this is your business we are talking about. Your baby! We’ve got some great tips for how to respond to the good, the bad and everything in between.


You get a positive review:

Should I respond? Absolutely! If someone is saying something great about your company you should, of course, thank them. As a consumer you’ve most likely posted a positive review about a service, right? If so you know that it’s something that you went out of the way to do. Sending a simple thanks to these folks for their kind words will just confirm their efforts. Don’t go too crazy/gushy though….

What should I say? We think Yelp’s guidelines are pretty spot-on here. “When contacting a positive reviewer, your purpose should be simply to deliver a human thank you and let them know you care. That’s it. No gift certificates. No mailing lists. No event invites. No reactions to the minor complaint in their review. No requests for them to tell more friends about your business.”

Your first instinct may be to shove free stuff down the throat of this amazing promoter of your business, but that will come across as disingenuous on the side of the consumer. Think about it this way: they already like what you are doing and if they took the time to write a review they’re likely to tell their peers about your service. Don’t make them question their loyalty with what might seem like a bribe. Instead acknowledge, thank and take solace in the fact that you are doing something people love!  

But you say, what if I really want to gush since this customer is my #1! Okay, okay there are a few times where maybe it does seem totally right to gush, inform or offer your customer something. But try to make it custom to that client. Listen to the tone of their review; make it totally personal and go with what feels right for them.

Should my post be Public or Private? At WebPunch we think that if you are going to say something awesome, then dangit make it public! Google guides you to “sound like a friend, not a salesperson” and if you stick to that rule then a public reply should bode well in your favor.


You get a negative review:

Should I respond? Yes, BUT! Okay, you’ve received a scathing review that shoots to the heart and soul of your business and what it is you do, and your first response is likely to lash back out with a thousand curses. Definitely, don’t do this. There are a few reasons you should not lash out. First off, it will come off as rude, arrogant, ‘fill in the blank’ negative word. That reviewer already feels comfortable using the internet to share their feelings so it’s likely your response will be posted all over the web. The thing to always remember is that your reviewer is a human with (possibly fickle) emotions and a negatively charged reply will just fuel the fire. It’s okay to state the facts as long as it sounds like you are still sympathetic and listening to the client. If you reply calmly then there’s a much better chance the reviewer will walk away feeling much better about you and your service.

What should I say? If you come across as genuine, human and stay calm then you shouldn’t have a problem! Yelp has some other great advice here: …keep your message simple: thank you for the business and the feedback. If you can be specific about the customer’s experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go very far in earning trust.” For an even more in depth guide to crafting and responding to negative reviews check out WebPunch’s 5 Rules to Responding to Negative Reviews.

Should my post be Public or Private? We think these responses should be public so that those who are looking at your page can see how you respond. Don’t keep it private, but keep the responses short and to the point inviting the reviewer to contact the business owner offline. Going on and on in your response can fuel the fire and also make one look defensive. Plus, if you accidentally get too passionate, it will be there for everyone to read, forever!


You want to post a comment correcting someone’s information:

Should I correct wrong information in a review? Definitely! Make sure it comes across as helpful and not bossy, personal or robotic.

What should I say? As with all review replies keep it friendly and as simple as it needs to be! You correcting their info should come across as helpful to the reviewer. An example: “Thanks for your review! Oh and we changed our happy hour and it’s now 4-7 every weekday. Hope to see you then!” vs. “You are mistaken our happy hour actually ends at 7.” See what I mean?

Public or Private post? WebPunch really does think all your replies should be public. If you’re honest and sincere then you have nothing to lose. In the case of adding a correction it’s advantageous of you to keep the ‘corrections’ to a minimum especially in reply to a negative review as they might sound very ‘I told you so.’ Just remember to be helpful and human.

In sum, every reviewer and review will garner a different response from you, but always keep it simple concise and friendly. Oh and remember that it’s okay to get less than perfect reviews sometimes. Otherwise you end up looking like a Stepford Wife. Instead use these reviews as an opportunity to engage with your customers, learn more about what they like – or don’t like – about your service and make changes because of it.

WebPunch helps you get reviews, monitor these reviews and gives you parameters for responding! You should respond to as many reviews as you can. Before you respond think about whether you should reply publicly or privately. Then think about what you’ll say, and just remember to be helpful, human and at the end of the day – yourself.