How to Respond to Customer Reviews (Good & Bad)

Reviews are important for the reputation of any business. In the digital age, online reviews are the new word-of-mouth, meaning potential customers are more likely to trust companies with positive reviews on the web. When customers see a business or service with a ton of 5-star reviews on Google or Yelp, they’ll want to check it out. Plus, a 5-star review is a great way to boost morale among the employees without having to order a pizza.

But what do you do when your business receives a negative review?

It’s critical for business owners to know how to approach an online review, positive or negative, because it helps them build their brand’s image. Choosing your words wisely in response to a negative review is just as important as reaching out to a positive one to say thank you.

Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and responding to online reviews is another way to build rapport with the people who keep your business running every day. In this guide, we’ll go into detail about how to respond to positive and negative reviews, turn a negative customer experience into a good one, and provide general tips on how to interact with your customers online.

Why Should You Respond to Customer Reviews?

Responding to online reviews helps business owners build rapport with their customers online. Taking the time to respond to reviewers shows potential customers you value their feedback and are willing to listen to suggestions to improve your products or services. Responding to reviews should play a bigger role in your marketing strategy because it enables business owners to spread the word and strengthen their brand’s voice.

How to Respond to Positive Customer Reviews

Keep Things Short and Sweet

Don’t overcomplicate things when responding to a positive review.

When responding to a negative review, businesses will often write one or two paragraphs discussing whatever issues came up in the review before either apologizing to the reviewer or suggesting other advice.

Positive reviews don’t require a lengthy response, but they should also be more thought-out than a simple thank-you. Remember, these customers took time out of their day to leave such a good review; it only makes sense to let them know you appreciate them.


  • “Hi (reviewer name)! Thank you for your kind feedback; your words are very much appreciated. Have a great day!”
  • “Thank you so much for your generous feedback, “reviewer name.” Hope to see you again soon.”
  • “Thank you for your review (reviewer name); your kind words mean a lot to us.”
  • “Thanks for supporting our business and for being such a loyal customer, (reviewer name).”

Thank Them Personally

Sometimes, a short and simple review might seem impersonal, even if it is positive. However, businesses can benefit from personalized responses to short 5-star reviews because it shows how much they care about their customers.

In this scenario, it’s less about encouraging customers to return (which is always a bonus) and more about thanking them on a human-to-human level.


  • “Hey (reviewer name), thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a kind review! We can’t wait to see you and meet your family when you return to our restaurant.”
  • “Thank you for your lovely feedback, (reviewer name). We hope your daughter enjoys her special birthday cake. Please send her our best wishes!”
  • “Hello (reviewer name), I’m so glad your wife loved the anniversary flowers – we thought the lilies would make her heart melt! Thank you for choosing us to celebrate the big day.”

Encourage Them to Return

While all businesses enjoy getting new clientele, it’s far more meaningful when existing customers choose to use your services again. So when you respond to 5-star reviews, you can easily encourage customers to return.


  • “Thank you for your kind feedback, (reviewer name). We look forward to seeing you again soon. Just give us a call, and we’ll reserve the best seat in the house for you!”
  • “Hi (reviewer name), thank you so much for being such a loyal customer. Feel free to pop in to say hello whenever you’re in the area!”
  • “We’re so glad you enjoyed our food, (reviewer name). Your kind words mean we will be moving the roast duck dish from the daily specials to a permanent place on the menu!”

How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

Be Prompt to Respond

Never delay responding to a negative review about your business. If dissatisfied customers post negative reviews, the faster you can change their minds, the better the outcome will be for your business.

Regardless of whether the negative review is on social media, Google, or any other website, respond promptly. Responding quickly while the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind can go a long way and helps with damage control.

Personalize Each Response

Each customer is an individual with their own unique experience, meaning you should take the time to come up with personal responses to address their specific problems. Using a generic template or auto-generated response comes across as if you don’t actually care and seem lazy. 

When customers stumble across an issue while dealing with your business, try to be compassionate and empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes and ensure you tailor your response to address their experience.

Offer to Take the Conversation Offline

As a business owner, it can be challenging when customers openly criticize your products, services, or behavior. Taking the conversation offline gives you and the customer a chance to discuss things and see if a resolution that satisfies both parties is possible. If you decide this is the best course of action, you might politely ask the customer to speak with you offline so that you can swiftly resolve the issue.

Show Gratitude Anyway

It hurts when you hear it, but constructive criticism will always help you enhance the quality of your services. Try to be appreciative and thankful to your customers for leaving their reviews, as these reviews will help you better serve all of your customers.

Look at it as a win-win. If you are at fault, you get an opportunity to fix things. If you are not at fault, it is still an opportunity to show that you care about your customers.

With the right kind of response from your end, negative reviews can elevate your business. However, this might not always be possible, given that some customers will not be interested in cooperating. Just ensure you do the right thing on your end and trust that your customers will do the rest.

Removing Fake or Abusive Negative Reviews

Sometimes, you may get a review that does not warrant a response. These reviews might include abusive comments that have nothing to do with your offshoot or service or contain personal information about yourself or an employee. If you feel as if a review on your Google or Yelp page is putting you or your team members at risk, you can take action to have them removed.

Removing Fake Reviews on Yelp

Yelp will only remove reviews if they:

  • Are written by someone with a conflict of interest
  • Aren’t specifically about the writer’s experience with your business
  • Include inappropriate material like hate speech or personal information about employees

If you feel that a review written about you falls into one of these categories, follow these steps to report it so that Yelp administrators can take action.

  1. Log into your Yelp account for your business. (If you haven’t already created an account and claimed the business as yours, you’ll have to do that first using Yelp’s Find and Claim page.)
  2. Navigate to the Reviews section of your account and find the negative review you want to be removed.
  3. Click on the flag icon to report the review.

Removing Fake Reviews on Google

Similar to Yelp, Google will remove reviews that include inappropriate content, conflicts of interest, or off-topic commentary. Google will also remove reviews that include contact information, infringe on copyrights, or advertise for other businesses.

You don’t have to be logged into an account in order to report a Google review. To report an offensive review on Google, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Google Maps and enter your business name and city in the search fields.
  2. Find your business in the results list and click on it.
  3. Click on the link that shows how many reviews you’ve received.
  4. Find the review you want to be removed and click on the flag icon.
  5. Fill out the “Report a policy violation” page, which asks for your email address and the review’s violation.

Removing Fake Reviews on Facebook

If a review doesn’t meet Facebook’s community standards, you can report it for removal. The standards cover a broad range of things, but they’re very similar to Google’s. Anyone with a Facebook account can request that a review be removed. To report a violation of Facebook’s community standards:

  1. Search for the business’s Facebook page and find the review in question.
  2. Click on the V-shaped symbol in the upper right corner of the review.
  3. Click “Report Post” and follow the prompts.
  4. In all these cases, you can’t get negative reviews removed just because you don’t like what they say. That’s why it’s so important to prevent negative reviews from happening in the first place.

How to Prevent Negative Reviews

It’s better for everyone if customers leave your business happy the first time around.

The key to preventing negative reviews is finding out what kind of experience your customers have by asking them directly at the end of your first interaction. Take the time to follow up with questions like “Is there anything we can do to improve your experience today?” 

Asking your customers for feedback while they are there with you shows them you care about addressing their needs then and there. Even if the overall product or experience still isn’t to their liking, they’re more likely to leave with a positive impression, which could result in a positive review despite the fact.

Closing Thoughts

Always remember that no one and no business is perfect, and bad reviews happen to good businesses. If you can, quickly get to the root of the reason for the negative review and try to win the customer back. If the review is unreasonable or abusive, try to take action to get it removed.

The ripple effect can be huge when you convert an unhappy customer into a satisfied one. A satisfied customer will write positive reviews, attracting more business to you. Not only do you have a chance to turn a negative experience into a positive one, but you have an opportunity to gain a customer or two while you’re at it.

If your business receives reviews across many different platforms, keeping tabs on what everyone is saying about you can be challenging. Thankfully, automated systems like ReputationStacker make it easy to assess what customers have to say about your business across social networks and review sites.

Contact us to learn how you can easily keep a pulse on what customers think about your business and collect more positive reviews while you’re at it!


Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.


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