The golden rule of reputation management is simple: respond to every review, both positive and negative. Your reputation is valuable, and one negative online review can drive away 30 potential leads. But before you begin responding to reviews, it’s smart to develop a streamlined reputation management strategy. Thus ensuring that all team members know exactly how and when to respond to a review.

Tips for Developing a Reputation Management Review Response Strategy

Assign Roles and Responsibilities: Whether review responses are handled at the location level by the property manager, handed off to a regional manager, managed by your corporate team, or outsourced to an agency, responding to reviews is not something you can afford to overlook. 

Evaluate their feedback and do a weekly or monthly recap of customer reviews with staff: Your customer has taken the time out of their day to provide insight into their experience with your business. For good reviews, it can be easy to move forward with business as usual (hint: don’t do that!). Is there a team member responsible for providing an exceptional experience? Pass on the uplifting feedback to encourage their top-notch performance in the future. Was there a whoops-a-daisy mistake that led to a mediocre review? Learn from teachable moments and discuss opportunities to improve. Use review data to help your team manage the property effectively and to stay on top of recurring issues. Get your staff engaged in knowing what customers are saying by discussing some of the hot topics on a regular basis.

Publicly respond with transparency and empathy: A public response is essential to all reviews. It shows potential customers that you care about their experience and are open to feedback. If mistakes have been made, own up to them. Do not shift blame or point fingers, this will be seen as immature. Respond with empathy and if it is appropriate offer solutions. Generally, repairing the relationship can turn on-the-fence customers into big fans. 

Find Your Voice and Be Consistent: Work with your team to create a tone and response style that fits your overall brand, image, and location. The key here is to give an empathetic, personal, human response. It is okay to be concise, but no one wants to hear emotionless boilerplate after writing a review. It is important to avoid one-sentence responses like, “Thanks for your review.” 

Responding to Positive Reviews

We all love affirmation for our hard work, but don’t passively bask in positive feedback. Respond promptly, thank the reviewer for their positive review. Refer to specific details of their review, as this will reinforce the overall positive experience. Use your business name in the response, adding a tiny boost to SEO, and ensuring your business is noticed in this positive interaction.

Remember, potential customers read owner responses, so use this space to build a genuine connection with your customers. Do you have additional business offerings or content you think the customer may benefit from? Did you recently win a Best of _________ Award? Share relevant information in a fun, friendly way! 

Personalize these templated messages to fit your customer and business needs:

  • Hi (Customer Name), Thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad you had a great experience with (Name of Business). Providing a top-notch customer experience is important to us, thank you for letting us know we are exceeding even our own expectations. 
  • Hey (Customer Name), Thank you for your glowing review, we put a lot of work into providing a top-tier customer experience. I’m so glad you found (specifics of what was positive in the review) (positive, helpful, game-changing). We love hearing from our customers, feel free to reach out to us at any time (email) or (phone number). 
  • Hello (Customer Name), Woohoo! I’m so happy to hear (what was positive in the review). Your feedback is important to us, we’ll congratulate (name of the staff member they found helpful) on a job well done. Have a great day!

Responding to Negative Reviews

We know 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. And according to GatherUp, 73% of customers are likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. Simply put, responding to negative reviews impacts your bottom line. Here are a few tips to adhere to when responding to dissatisfied customers. 

Respond Promptly: Quickly responding to reviews, both positive and negative, is important as you want to connect with the customer while the experience is fresh in their minds. Be sure to investigate the problem thoroughly before responding to the review so you are prepared with a thoughtful response. 

Acknowledge and Apologize: Every reviewer has their own personal experience, and while you may or may not agree with the details, it’s important to acknowledge their situation. Most often, an apology and acknowledgment of their experience can go a long way when it comes to diffusing the situation. 

Be Specific In Your Response: Pay attention to the details of their review and speak briefly to their primary concerns. By recognizing the details of their experience, it shows you hear them and you care about the outcome of their unique situation. Above all, reviewers expect you to take the time to read their concerns and they don’t appreciate generic, copy-pasted responses. Be authentic and truthful in how you respond to reviews. 

Take the Conversation Offline: Avoid drawing negative attention by arguing back and forth with an unhappy customer. Instead, take the problem offline by inviting the reviewer to engage with you outside of the review site. Provide them with contact information if the online conversation starts to get out of hand. Say only what is necessary, making it short and sweet. 

Analyze Engagement and Look for Ways to Improve: Reputation management does more than maximize the revenue impact of online reviews. It can also be a valuable tool to show areas that need improvement, indicators for new goals and benchmarks, and give insight on how to increase social media engagement. What goals do you have for your online platform, particularly those with review opportunities? 

Edit these templates to fit your customer and business needs:

  • Hi (Customer Name), Thank you for your feedback. I’m sorry to hear your experience with our company wasn’t up to par. We would love to talk with you more about (your experience/specific incident) and learn how we can remedy the situation. Please reach out to us at (phone number) or (email address) at your convenience. 
  • Hello (Customer Name), We are sorry that (negative experience) happened. We don’t want to let our customers down and we apologize. Please reach out to us at (phone number) or (email address), so we can make this right.
  • Hello (Customer Name), Oh no! We strive to deliver exceptional customer experiences. I’m sorry we missed the mark in your case and would love to talk with you about (specific situation or circumstance referenced) and how we can repair the situation. Please reach out to us at (phone number) or (email address), we take your feedback seriously, and look forward to talking with you. 

Responding to Rating-only reviews 

Increasingly customers leave rating-only reviews, aka a review that has no text and just a star rating. This can be a conundrum. What did they like, dislike, or find neutral about their experience with your company? Keep your response short and ask for more feedback. 

Consider modifying these templates to fit your needs:

  • Hello, (Customer Name), I’m so sorry you didn’t have a great experience with our company. You deserve better and you are important to us. Please contact us at (email address) or (phone number), so that we can make it right.
  • Hello (Customer Name), Your insight is important to us. I wish we had lived up to your expectations. Please contact us at (email address) or (phone number), so that we can learn more about your specific experience. 
  • Hi (Customer Name), We are so glad you had a great experience working with us. We would love to learn more about where we exceeded your expectations. Please reach out to (email address) or (phone number), if you have an opportunity to share more. 

The Value of Reputation Management

Reputation management and responding to reviews are opportunities to let your customers know how important they are to your business. Furthermore, we know through empathetic and timely communication you can transform a dissatisfied customer into a cheerleader who feels heard. 

Review responses also provide an opportunity to receive up-to-date feedback about what is or isn’t working from your customer’s perspective. These customer interactions provide insights about your company to prospects or leads. So, handling them with care is critical.

We know reputation management is a lot of work. Learn more about how we can help.