What is the RIGHT way to Handle Online Reviews?

By March 13, 2018 Blog No Comments

Online ReviewsLike it or not, online reviews are now a big part of your digital marketing.  Online reviews are posted by consumers on sites likes Facebook, Google, and Yelp (just to name a few).  If not handled properly, reviews can really damage your business reputation and your referral business!


Here are some of the ways we handle online reviews for our clients:


1) The Simplest Scenario: You get a great review!

In this case, we recommended responding promptly and saying “thank you!”  Just because it is a good review does not mean it doesn’t need a response.  By offering a sincere reply, you’re doing two things:

  • You’re letting the reviewer know how much you appreciate them taking the time to share
  • You’re showing others online that you really care about interacting with customers and take the time to do so

Pro Tip: Avoid the generic and robotic auto response ‘Thank You.’ Try to switch it up! Call the reviewer out by name and show them you took the time to read the review.




2) The Negative Scenario:  An unhappy customer posts a bad review or low star ranking

Typically, we consider anything under 4 stars to be a ‘bad’ review. Here is how we proceed in these situations:

  • If it is just a star ranking and no comment, a polite reply asking about their experience is always fair. Welcome them to send you a direct message. If you tell the reviewer you simply want to know if you can help as the business owner, it lets them know you care.
  • If the customer leaves feedback about their poor experience, take time to assess the situation. Is it accurate and true? Check with your staff and team members. Try to not take it personal, and rationalize if the customer makes good points.

A negative review may be a hit to the ego, but let’s look at it in the most positive way: it is still customer feedback. If the customer has a legitimate point, it gives you an opportunity to look for ways to improve.  Maybe it wait time was too long, or there was an unfriendly staff member mentioned. This is your chance to change these things in your business.


Here are the rules we follow when replying to negative reviews:

  • In almost all circumstances, you should respond publically. Apologize and ask the customer to contact your directly. You need to respond publically for the same reason you need to respond to positive reviews publically – it shows customers you take your business and reputation seriously.
  • NEVER get into an online argument or conversation that leads to a back and forth with the customer. You should absolutely insist that the customer message or email you privately. From there you can apologize or find out more about the incident. If warranted, you can offer something as a way to make it up to the customer. For example, if you are a restaurant you could offer a free appetizer the next time the customer dines with you.



3) THAT Scenario: That One Person who is just never happy (AKA ‘Trolls’)

A negative review can give us the chance to improve or bring a potentially lost and unhappy customer back as loyal lifetime customers. However, there are also some customers you just don’t want to come back. The complaint could be way over the top and exaggerated. Or essentially, they are just one of those customers who will find something to complain about– no matter what. Think of the type of person who goes to a restaurant, eats 80% of their meal, and then decides to complain about it to see if they can get a discount.  Yeah – those types of people. The best way to proceed is to again check with your team and staff on the facts of the situation. Again, offer a public apology, but in this situation, there is no need to extend any offerings beyond that.  You’re in business to be a great business, not to get taken advantage of.


If you’re worried that these types of reviews will hurt your business, fear not.  Most customers can sense a ‘negative Nancy’ reviewer who just seems like they are making unfounded claims.


Pro Tip: There are times that we choose to not respond to reviews. We do not issue a response if we feel the review is particularly sensitive or feel that a response may only escalate the situation. We also avoid replying or engaging if the reviews have a personal tone to them or are more of an ‘attack on the business’ vs. legitimate feedback.



It is hard to keep up with reviews at times, and to see who is writing what, and where and when…

So we recommend using online monitoring tools and software that will alert you each time your business is mentioned online. There are dozens of reviews sites out there and an online tool will alert you immediately. You need to be respond to these reviews quickly, especially if you want to bring back potentially lost business and keep your online reputation positive.


We also recommend instituting an automated system that encourages customers to leave positive feedback. Too often, an unhappy customer is the most vocal and a happy customer may not always think to post about their experience. If you implement the right tools and procedures, you will find that your positive reviews far out rank negative and that your online presence is boosted. This in turn will help you grow your business daily!


Need help or want more info on how your business can professionally handle reviews? Contact me today here.

Alicia Piazza

About Alicia Piazza

Alicia's passion for Marketing stems from seeing client success brought on by innovative, creative & custom approaches. She has over 8 years of media experience which includes media buying, print, direct mail, event marketing, and all aspects of social media and digital marketing. Alicia's goal for Custom Marketing Solutions is to remain a local company that can help other local businesses thrive by providing them with unique and affordable options. In her spare time, she enjoys fitness and spoiling her puppy Olive.

Leave a Reply