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Responding to Online Reviews: A Reputation Management Strategy

May 07, 202311 min read

In today's world, online reviews have become an integral part of the decision-making process for consumers. According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, 98% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. This means that businesses need to pay attention to what their customers are saying about them online, as it can have a significant impact on their reputation and bottom line.

Positive reviews can help a business attract and retain customers, while negative reviews can drive customers away. In fact, a study by Harvard Business Review found that a one-star increase in a business's Yelp rating can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue. On the other hand, a one-star decrease in rating can lead to a 5-9% decrease in revenue.

This makes it essential for businesses to actively monitor their online reviews and respond to them in a timely and appropriate manner. Doing so can not only help businesses maintain a positive reputation but also demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Local Consumer Review Survey 2023 - BrightLocal

The Dos of Responding to Online Reviews

Businesses can improve their online reputation and build better relationships with their customers by following these simple "dos" when responding to reviews:

  • Respond to all reviews, regardless of their tone, to show customers that their feedback is important and valued.

  • Personalize responses by using the customer's name and referring to specific details from their review. This demonstrates that the business is attentive to their customers' experiences.

  • Provide a resolution or next steps in the response, whether it's thanking the customer for their positive feedback or addressing and apologizing for any negative experiences. This shows that the business is taking action to improve the customer's experience and win back their loyalty.

By implementing these practices, businesses can turn negative feedback into positive outcomes and strengthen their relationships with customers.

The Don'ts of Responding to Online Reviews

While there are several dos when it comes to responding to online reviews, there are also several don'ts that businesses should avoid.

Businesses should never respond defensively or aggressively to negative reviews. Doing so can escalate the situation and make the business appear unprofessional. Instead, businesses should approach negative reviews with empathy and a willingness to address the customer's concerns.

You should avoid using canned responses or templates. This can make the response seem impersonal and insincere. Instead, businesses should take the time to craft a personalized response that addresses the specific concerns raised in the review.

It is also very crucial to never disclose personal or confidential information in your responses. Doing so can violate the customer's privacy and damage the business reputation.

Best Practices for Responding to Positive Reviews

While responding to negative reviews is important, businesses should also take the time to respond to positive reviews. Doing so can help reinforce positive customer experiences and encourage repeat business.

  • Begin by thanking the customer for their positive review and expressing gratitude for their business.

  • Acknowledge specific details from the review, such as mentioning a particular employee or product, to show that you value their feedback and are paying attention.

  • Take the opportunity to promote your products or services by mentioning any new offerings that the customer might be interested in trying.

  • End the response by inviting the customer to return and reassuring them that you will continue to provide great service and products.

  • Fuel your marketing efforts by using these reviews as social media inspiration or sharing it on your website! 

Best Practices for Responding to Neutral Reviews

Getting a three-star review may not be the best, but it's still an opportunity to shine! Rather than dwell on the negatives, let's focus on how we can turn things around. With a proactive approach, we can craft thoughtful responses that show we care about our customers and are committed to improving their experience. So, how can we make the most of these reviews and turn them into a positive for our business?

  • First things first, show your appreciation to the customer for taking the time to leave a review. Express your gratitude for their honest feedback and let them know that you value their input.

  • Don't forget to highlight the positive aspects of their review. Let them know that you are thrilled to hear that they had a great experience with your business. For example, "Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! We're thrilled that our landscaping crew was able to provide you with excellent service."

  • Address any negative feedback with a sincere apology or explanation. If you made a mistake, own up to it and let them know what steps you are taking to avoid similar issues in the future. For instance, "We apologize for any delay in responding to your quote. We have taken steps to improve our communication process to ensure that we respond to all inquiries promptly."

  • Finally, make it clear that you value their business and would love the opportunity to serve them again in the future. Invite them back for another visit or offer to connect with them offline to address any further concerns. Show them that you care about their satisfaction and are committed to providing excellent service.

You could also use the opportunity to provide additional information or context about the product or service. This can help the customer make a more informed decision and potentially lead to a positive review in the future.

Best Practices for Responding to Negative Reviews

Negative reviews can be challenging to respond to, but they also offer a chance to turn things around. No matter how you feel, it's essential to respond to the customer. Here are some tips to help you reply positively:

  • Take a deep breath and calm down. Don't reply when you're angry because you may say something you'll regret. Respond with kindness and respect at all times.

  • Remember why you're replying. Your goal is to win back the customer and show others that you care about your product/services. A thoughtful and genuine reply to a negative review may potentially be determining factor in why someone chose to do business with you.

  • Apologize, even if it's not your fault. Start with, "I'm sorry you had a less than stellar experience..."

  • Explain that this experience is not normal. Say something like, "We usually finish everything within the scheduled time so that we're not an inconvenience..." or "Our office staff usually handles customer service issues in a professional manner..."

  • Offer to make things right. Ask the reviewer to email or call your business so you can fix the problem. If able to, offer a coupon or discount for their next purchase. Keep in mind, there is a very thick line between bribing someone for a better review and genuinely trying to make things right.

  • Remember that you can't please everyone. Some unhappy customers won't return, but focus on building better relationships with new and returning customers.

  • Know that negative reviews aren't going to destroy your business. In fact, a few negative reviews can help consumers trust your business more. They'll see that you're not paying for fake positive reviews.


Your response to negative reviews can greatly impact how others perceive your business. It's important to take a proactive approach and have a plan in place to maintain a positive reputation.

Examples of Effective Responses to Online Reviews

To help illustrate the dos and don'ts of responding to online reviews, here are a few examples of effective responses:

Positive Review: "Thank you so much for your kind words, [customer name]! We're thrilled to hear that you had a great experience with [specific employee/product]. We truly appreciate your business and look forward to serving you again soon."

Neutral Review: "Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback, [customer name]. We appreciate your input and will take it into consideration as we strive to improve our products/services."

Negative Review: "Hi [customer name], we're sorry to hear that you had a negative experience with our [product/service]. We take all feedback seriously and would like to make things right. Please reach out to us at [contact information] so we can address your concerns and find a resolution."

Review Response #1

Daddy Vics Soul Food - Louisville KY - Review Response

What we love about this response: The owner of this Soul Food restaurant in Louisville, KY responded to a customer review with a simple yet heartfelt message. The use of the heart emoji and the phrase "can't wait to serve you again" leaves a positive impression and makes you excited to visit again.

What can be improved: The response could have been more timely! It is understood that the tempo of business can keep us busy but it could have been an opportunity to invite the customer for one of the daily specials or could have suggested another menu item to try, such as the Mac & Cheese!

Review Response #2

Roof Top Grill - Louisville KY -Review Response

What we love about this response: The owner of this restaurant is amazing! They responded promptly and with great care to a negative review. Responding quickly to negative reviews is crucial, and this owner nailed it. They addressed the issue of the oxtails not being available, and even turned it into an opportunity to promote how delicious they are! And despite the situation, they still managed to end their response on a positive note with "Hope to see you soon".

What can be improved: Although the response was great, it missed the complaint of the phone issue! The customer stated they never answer the phone but used pre-ordering via phone or online as a potential solution 🙃 If there were any issues with the phone system, this would have been a great opportunity to acknowledge the customer's issue.

Tools and Resources for Managing Online Reviews

Managing online reviews can be a time-consuming process, but there are several tools and resources available to help businesses streamline the process.

Google Business Profile

One such tool is your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), which allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Maps. It provides a platform for businesses to respond to reviews, update their information, and monitor their online reputation within the Google ecosystem.


Reviews left on Facebook has still been a widely used platform to monitor as it has the largest of Daily Active Users. In some cases, Google will also include Fakebook reviews on your Google Business Profile.


Yelp has been a consistent source for a customer to write a review, matter of fact, it is the 2nd most used source behind Google.

Imani Advantage

We're proud to offer Reputation Management as one of our core services! Whether you're short on time or not comfortable with the latest technology, our team can help you manage your online reputation more efficiently. With our reputation management dashboard, you'll be able to respond to reviews quickly and easily, all in one place. It's shameless promotion, sure, but it's also a great opportunity to take your online presence to the next level! You should check out our Super Simple checklist to help get started with online reputation management on our blog.

Local Customer Service Workshops/Training

Before you think about managing reviews...you have to get them first 🤷🏽‍♂️

The best way to ensure your chances of gaining a positive review is to make sure your you and your team are equipped with dealing with customers at all stages. We highly recommend going to a customer service training either in-person or virtually to deliver an exceptional experience. The Small Business Association in your area may host events relating to customer service & support that can be worth while.

T. Marie Consulting, based in Louisville, KY, has organized numerous Customer Service Workshops and consulting sessions that can help businesses establish stronger connections with their customers and improve customer relationships.

No 2 customers are the same, so delivering stand-out customer service will help you determine their individual needs. -- Tiandra @ T. Marie Consulting

Tiandra Robinson

Key Takeaways and Stats

In conclusion, online reviews can have a significant impact on a business's reputation and bottom line. Responding to reviews in a timely and appropriate manner is essential for maintaining a positive online presence and demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction. Effective responses to online reviews should be personalized, empathetic, and focused on addressing the customer's concerns.

Local Consumer Review 2023 by BrightLocal (Review Response Survey)

  • 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022, up from 81% in 2021.

  • The percentage of consumers using Facebook to evaluate local businesses has fallen for the second year running, from 54% in 2020 to 48% in 2021, and from there to 46% in 2022.

  • Google is the most trusted review platform across all industries, although Tripadvisor still has its place for accommodation businesses, Yelp maintains a strong share of trust for food and drinks businesses, and BBB is trusted for businesses in professional trades and real estate industries.

  • Outside of standard review platforms, 35% of consumers use YouTube to find information about local businesses, 32% use Instagram, 20% use TikTok, and 35% of consumers consult their local news.

  • 98% of consumers used the internet to find information about local businesses in 2022, up from 90% in 2019.

  • 81% of consumers are “likely” or “highly likely” to leave a positive review if they feel the business went above and beyond to ensure an exceptional experience.

  • 79% of people would be “likely” or “highly likely” to leave a positive online review if the business had turned an initially negative experience into a positive one.

Data Source: Bright Local Consumer Survey 2023

By following these dos and don'ts and implementing best practices for responding to online reviews, businesses can protect their brand's reputation and attract and retain more customers.

Business Reviews Reputation ManagementLocal Business MarketingCustomer RetentionCustomer Loyalty
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Joshua Butrum

With over a decade of military service under my belt and a burning passion for Digital Marketing, Business Development, and Automation, I co-founded Imani Advantage to help small businesses and entrepreneurs take their brands to the next level. As an all-inclusive Marketing Operations Consultancy, we work hand in hand with clients to turn their vision into a reality by guiding them through our proven process of Strategic Planning, Tech Integration, and Paid Advertising. My unique background as a career military service member has honed my ability to approach challenges from multiple angles and apply innovative solutions, making me an invaluable asset to our clients' success. Join us on a journey to elevate your brand and maximize your return on investment.

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