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How to reply to both positive and negative reviews

Standing out on Search and Maps

Time to complete:

10 minutes


Customers can leave reviews many places online, including on your free Business Profile on Google. Reviews are important to both businesses and customers, and offer a great opportunity for businesses to engage with customers and build loyalty.

This lesson covers best practices for responding to the reviews customers leave for your business online.

Customer reviews, and your responses to them, are visible on your Business Profile on Google.

Why responding to reviews is important

As a business, you probably read your online reviews to keep up with how customers are perceiving your business. You’ll also want to respond to some of them, both positive and negative.

According to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses who don't (76% vs. 46%)1. Not only does responding to reviews support trust-building, it also gives you an opportunity to humanize your business, show customers you care, and demonstrates professionalism.

When responding, keep in mind that your responses are public for everyone to read. You’ll want to keep your message short and courteous (even if you disagree with the reviewer), and avoid getting too personal or being salesy by offering incentives or advertisements.

1.7x

more trustworthy

According to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses who don't.1

Claim your Business Profile to respond

If you want to reply to your reviews on Google, you’ll first need to claim your Business Profile. You’ll then have access to respond publicly to your reviews.

How to respond to good reviews

For positive reviews, you don’t need to reply to every reviewer, but a “thank you” is often appreciated. You can also use your response to share new or relevant information, but don’t make it too sales-focused—they’re already a happy customer.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • “Thank you! We hope to see you again soon.”
  • “Thanks for sharing your experience.”
  • “We’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed your experience.”

How to respond to bad reviews

Negative reviews can sting. While nobody wants a negative review, most businesses will receive one at some point. Here are some tips on replying to negative reviews:

  • Respond in a timely manner. Customers will appreciate a prompt response.
  • Stay professional and courteous. Never lash out and avoid taking the review personally.
  • Understand your customer’s experience with your business before responding. If someone mentions a problem with a product or service, investigate to see what may have gone wrong. Be honest about mistakes made and steps you’ve taken (or will take) to remedy the situation.
  • Apologize when appropriate but don’t take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. Show compassion and empathy for the customer.
  • Offer to talk it over. If this is the first you’re hearing of the complaint, invite the customer to email or call so that you can try to sort out the matter with them.
  • Show that you’re authentic and genuine. Sign off with your name or initials to show you’re taking the matter seriously and that a real person is listening.

Need some additional inspiration? Let’s take a look at some examples of thoughtful responses to negative reviews:

  • “Thank you for the feedback, Thea. I’m sorry to hear that you had to wait longer than expected for your table. Our goal is always to seat customers as quickly as possible and we are always working to make our process even more efficient. We hope to have the chance to serve you again. - Sam (owner)”
  • “Hi Priya - I see you left a 1 star rating, but no details about your experience with us. I would love to hear more about how we can serve you better. - K.L. (lead stylist)”
  • “John, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I looked into it and you are completely right - it took us 3 days to return your estimate, which is entirely too long and not in line with our promise of a 24 hour turnaround. This is not how we do business and we would appreciate the chance to make it up to you. Please give me a call directly. - Maria (manager)”
  • “Thanks for stopping by to check out our store! We do offer discounts a few times a year, which might bring our prices closer to the range you are looking for. Please join our mailing list if you’d like to be notified about our sales. - Joe (clerk)”
  • “Javier, I’m sorry to hear that you were frustrated by our 15-day return timeline. Unfortunately, we cannot change this policy, but we do try to make it clear with signs in store and on our website so that it won’t be a surprise to our shoppers. We hope you’ll shop with us again. - Sandra”
  • “Oh no! We want your new plants to thrive when they get home. I’d be happy to share some tips on watering and placement if you want to give me a call. And, of course, we stand by our 30-day happy plant policy if you’d prefer to replace them. - S.M.”

While you may want a negative review to disappear from your Business Profile, Google won’t remove a review unless it violates our content policy by including something like fake, illegal, or offensive content. If you feel it does, you can always flag it for Google to investigate.

Learn from your experience and show customers you care

In general, responding to reviews — positive and negative alike — shows you’re an engaged business owner who cares not only about your business, but about your customers, too.

We all want 100% of our reviews to be positive, but even the best-run, most customer-focused businesses will receive bad reviews from time to time. When a negative review comes in, use it as a learning experience for how to improve your business in the future and how to showcase your responsiveness. Respond calmly, honestly, and openly. The way you respond to a negative situation can reflect positively on your business, and a thoughtful post-review interaction can even encourage the customer to update their review.

Need more help getting started with responding to reviews on Google? Learn more.

TAKE ACTION

Tips for responding to customer reviews

Customers can leave reviews many places online, including on your Business Profile on Google. How you respond to reviews, especially negative ones, reflects on your business, so it’s important to respond thoughtfully.

  • Say thank you

  • Respond in a timely manner

  • Stay professional and courteous

  • Understand your customer’s experience with your business

  • Apologize when appropriate

  • Offer to talk it over if a customer has a complaint

  • Show that you’re authentic and genuine by signing your name or initials

  • 1 Google/Ipsos Connect, Benefits of a Complete Google My Business Listing, October 2016. A total of N=15,904 adults 18-64.