How To Respond To Reviews, Good and Bad

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How do you respond to a negative review? Why reply to a good review? This four-minute video will show you how to respond to reviews online, both good and bad, and earn more business in the process.

(Interested in templates for responding to both good and bad reviews? Scroll down, we have a free download for you.)

Magda is a Digital Agent – someone who assists business owners with online marketing such as responding to reviews, social media, listings claiming and review management. Her team responds to a lot of reviews every month on behalf of busy small business owners, and with her experience comes huge knowledge!

Magda has a simple, four-step process for how to respond to reviews – both positive and negative reviews. By following these guidelines, you’ll too be able to take charge of those first six reviews that a whopping 73% of consumers form their opinion on, and earn more business in the process (BrightLocal).

Regardless of where the review is—be it Google, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Foursquare, Amazon and everywhere else—you can capitalize on a good review, and minimize the damage of a bad review. Let’s see how!

Positive Reviews

Why respond to a good review?

If a good customer leaves a glowing five-star review, it can’t get any better than that, right? Actually, it can. Here’s why you should always respond to a positive review:

It’s the polite thing to do. If customer gave you a compliment in real life, you would say thank you. It’s only polite. And with an online review, the compliment is public. So be extra nice!

Everyone is looking. 92% of consumers now read online reviews (BrightLocal). The public, including potential future customers of the business, may read this review. Replying to the review is a chance to speak to these people too, and do some subtle marketing.

It affects search rankings. By replying properly, you can improve the SEO ranking of the review, and help the review show up in search results for a business.

How to respond to good review (4 steps)

  1. Thank the customer and be specific
    Ensure the reviewer knows a real person is behind the reply by thanking them for something specific they said, even repeating it back. “Thanks for leaving a review, and mentioning our barista Jodi. You’re right, she is always smiling!”
  2. Use the business name and keywords
    Connecting the business name to the review will help it appear in search results. “The team here at [Business Name] is thrilled to hear such good feedback, and we’re proud to be one of the coziest [coffee shops] in [city name].”
  3. Throw in a little marketing
    Your reply is public and will be read by others, including future customers, so throw in some marketing! Mention a behind-the-scenes reason they had a great experience, or a new feature or promotion. “Did you know we just started a free coffee card?”
  4. Invite customer to do something
    Ask the customer to return, use another service or spread the word. “Next time you’re here, you should try the [insert product here]!” “We hope to see you again soon, and bring a friend!”

Example of good response to a positive review:

Respond to Reviews: How to reply to a good review

Negative Reviews

Why respond to a negative review?

Unfortunately, you can’t just ignore a bad review until it goes away.  In fact, ignoring an unpleasant review can make things worse!


  • You’re not just replying to just the one reviewer. You’re speaking to everyone who reads this review, including potential future customers.
  • Replying is your opportunity to make things right. If a customer brought a complaint to you in person, you would try to make it right. The same goes for online reviews—despite the impersonal nature of online reviews, it’s not over just yet. You can turn this thing around!
  • Replying shows other readers you are not shady or neglectful, and have taken steps to ensure this problem won’t happen to the next customer.

How to respond bad reviews (4 Steps)

  1. Apologize and sympathize
    Acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Even if they are unfounded, show sympathy that they had a bad experience.
    “I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience.”
  2. Insert a little marketing
    Explain what your customers usually experience. “We’re normally known for our exceptional attention to detail, and we regret that we missed the mark.”
  3. Keep it simple, short and sweet
    Don’t go into too much detail or ask any questions. Three sentences is a good rule of thumb.
  4. Continue the conversation offline
    Provide contact info with someone at the business so they can discuss the problem in person. “My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].”

BONUS: Don’t include the business name or relevant search keywords. You don’t want this review showing up in search results!

Example of good response to a negative review:

Here, this dealership is handling this scathing review the best way possible.

Respond to Reviews: How to Respond To a Negative Review

Best case scenario: below, a customer updated his review to 4-stars after the general sales manager contacted him and resolved the problem.

Respond to Reviews: How to Respond To a Negative Review

How to make a negative review go away (and other misleading headlines)

Negative reviews don’t generally go away. If you’ve been able to remedy the situation, you can politely ask the customer to update their negative review. Realistically though, some customers won’t be consoled. And even after solving an issue, a customer may not ever update their bad review, so you’re stuck with it.

Since most review sites don’t let businesses delete bad reviews, your next step is to drown it in a sea of great four- or five-star reviews. We highly recommend using a system that continually reminds good customers to leave a review. If you truly have a great product or service, the positive reviews will drown out the negative ones.

How to get more positive reviews

The best way to get more reviews is to ask! People love sharing their opinions, and happy customers will take the time.

They key is timing. If the business asks when the customer is most pleased with the product or services, the reviews will have the best chance of being very positive.

ASK IN PERSON: You can place a review reminder on the receipt, or at the checkout, or on the delivery slip. You can give a reminder card to the best customers.

ASK ONLINE: You should be requesting reviews via email. Vendasta can help make this easy and automatic with Review Generation, a great part of Vendasta Platform for selling digital solutions to local businesses.

Respond to reviews: templates

Take charge of your online reputation by skilfully responding to both good and bad reviews. It’s very time consuming, but worth every minute.

To speed up the process, we’ve created review response templates to get you started!

What’s your trick?

I want your feedback – how do you get customers to leave reviews? Is it working? Leave your comment below.

Joshua Baker

Josh is a professional filmmaker with Vendasta marketing team, specializing in digital media storytelling.