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How Responding to Online Reviews Can Help Your Business Build a Stellar Reputation

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

Plus, tips on how to craft great responses to positive, negative and neutral reviews, every time.

As a business, your goal is to earn a 5-star review from your guests every time. Of course, life isn’t always perfect. People make mistakes – maybe your salon or spa mixed a guest’s appointment time, or an unexpected delay set you behind. These events are part of life. But with so many guests spending time online, there’s always a risk that they might take to Google or Facebook to leave a bad review about your business.

Got a bad review? Don’t panic. A guest might not have had a perfect experience, but how you respond speaks volumes more about the experience than what they write online. In fact, 92% of people check out a local business’s online reviews before making a buying decision. The good news is that potential guests aren't just paying attention to your overall star rating or your review quantity. They’re also looking to see what kind of service you provide to your current guests online.

Whether or not a negative review is justified, your reputation is at risk every time you ignore a review. A thoughtful response shows that you genuinely value feedback and that you're trying to improve. A bit of listening goes a long way and annoyed guests are likely to be more receptive if their problem is acknowledged or solved.

Maintaining a positive reputation online is no longer optional in today’s world. The average business’s Google profile has 39 reviews, which helps consumers decide whether or not to visit or book an appointment online. In a sea of online reviews, you want to stand out with an amazing reputation and even better service.

Still not convinced?

Consider this: businesses that respond within an hour are 60 times more successful than those that wait 24 hours or more.

This means the faster you respond to your guests’ reviews, the greater the chances of transforming unhappy visitors into loyal brand ambassadors.

Three Reasons Why Responding to Reviews Matters for Your Business

Fixing a bad situation is only one of the many benefits from responding to online reviews. Here are some of the perks of reacting in a timely and thoughtful manner:

  1. Supercharge your SEO. Great reviews not only boost your online reputation, but they also improve your page visibility on local search engines. For example, if someone types in “salons near me,” the nearby salons with the best reviews are more likely to appear at the top of search results. This means more eyes on your business and more potential bookings!

  2. Build reliability and loyalty.88% of guests trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Replying to reviews in a timely manner shows your attentiveness and willingness to respond. It also opens the door to further connection outside of Google or Facebook, such as a phone call or email. Any opportunity to connect with your guests more is a chance to deepen your relationship and guarantee that they keep coming back to your business.

  3. Gather constructive criticism. Let's be honest – nobody likes to receive a bad review. But no business is perfect, and potential guests understand this. Crafting a meaningful response to your not-so-hot reviews shows guests that you value their input and prioritize an excellent guest experience.

Hopefully, you have a clearer understanding of why responding to online reviews is so important. Now, let’s explore how to embrace different types of reviews and use them to build your business.

How to Show Your Appreciation for Positive Reviews

A positive review is a massive win for you as a business owner. Not only does it feel great, but it shows that all the time and energy you’ve put into your business is paying off.

But it’s not enough to just receive a positive review and continue with business as usual. How you respond to a good review is just as important as how you react to the bad ones. It shows that you take the time to acknowledge and thank your guests, something they’ll appreciate and remember in any future interactions with your business.

Here are our all-star tips on how to recognize a positive review:

  1. Start with a thank you. A simple thank you can make someone’s day. Even better: it’s one of the best ways to build loyalty. No matter how busy you are, take a minute or two to thank the guest for taking the time to leave a nice review.

  2. Keep it short and sweet. You don't have to write a novel in your responses. Keep it simple, grateful, and to the point with 3-4 sentences at most.

  3. Use relevant keywords. SEO is king nowadays, and your business is more likely to rank higher in related searches by using relevant keywords in your response. For example, [business name) is proud to be the best [business category] in [city name]. Yes, it really is that easy.

  4. Share it with the world. A positive review is an excellent opportunity to market your business. If you get a great review, let the world see it by sharing it on your social media accounts such as your business Facebook and Twitter. After all, no one can sell your business quite like your own guests.

How to Protect Your Reputation from Negative Reviews

Negative reviews can damage your reputation fast. 94% of people say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business.

Despite this fact, an unfavorable review isn’t the end of the world for your business. What’s worse is failing to acknowledge it and avoiding the situation altogether.

Take a deep breath. While you won’t be able to erase a bad review completely, we’re here to give you the tools to respond in a sincere way. Take a glass-half-full approach and think about how you can use it as an opportunity to turn things around to your advantage.

Here are some tips on how to handle a negative review like a boss:

  1. Respond as soon as possible. Once you’ve had a chance to read the review and consider the guest's opinion, think about how best to solve the problem. You don’t have to answer the second you read the review – in fact, we recommend taking a moment to avoid acting out of emotion. This will help you think more objectively and craft a more professional response. Don’t delay too long, though. A survey shows that 83% of people expect businesses to respond to social media reviews in a day or less, so get to it as soon as you can.

  2. Start with an apology. No matter the situation, an apology goes a long way. Acknowledge the mistake and empathize with the reviewer. Explain how you’re handling the situation and offer to brainstorm solutions together. This improves communication and shows your guest that you’re serious about making changes.

  3. Get to the root of the problem. If a guest has gone out of their way to leave a bad review, it’s because they’re feeling frustrated. They might not feel heard by you and think that a public review is the only way to get your attention. Instead of being defensive, take a deeper look at their complaint. What upset them? Why did they feel upset about it? What can you do to prevent it in the future?

  4. Stick to the point. Don't go overboard with explanations. A long-winded response can come across as unprofessional. It might also take too long for the reviewer to read, meaning you risk your heartfelt apology getting lost in a jumble of information. A short, well-thought-out response Is more effective and shows that you’re taking care of the problem.

  5. Take the conversation offline. Once you’ve acknowledged the negative review and apologized publicly, continue the conversation in a more private space. Trying to reach a resolution publicly can be embarrassing and look like you don’t know what’s happening in your business. Asking for more details privately shows an extra level of care that guests will appreciate. Google, Yelp, and Facebook all have built-in tools that allow you to message guests privately.

How to Navigate Neutral Reviews

A neutral review might not feel as bad as a negative one, but it can still leave you feeling kind of “bleh.” Of course, you want to rack up as many 5-star reviews as possible. These average reviews are a terrific opportunity to turn the experience around. Who knows – with the right response, your guest might even remove the average review and leave a better one!

Here’s how to deal with a so-so review:

  1. Acknowledge the review. Greet the reviewer and take the time to thank them for writing. This sets a warm, personal tone for the rest of your response.

  2. Emphasize the positive. If a guest left a 3-star review rather than a 1-star review, chances are you did something right. Figure out what they enjoyed about your business. Say something like "We're glad to hear that you enjoyed ________.” Then, ask how you can improve for their next visit.

  3. Get to the heart of the issue.  Reiterate the issue in your response to communicate to the guest that you’ve taken the time to read their review and acknowledge their feelings. Let them know you hold your business to a high standard and want to fix all issues in a timely manner.

  4. Issue an apology. You can phrase your apology in countless ways but should try to transition smoothly between acknowledgment and apology. Keep your tone polite and don’t overdo it.

  5. Take the conversation offline. Like with negative reviews, you don't want this to escalate in full view of other potential guests. Take the conversation offline so you can find the underlying cause of the problem and deal with any issues properly.

Want to get more specific with your responses? Check out our blog for 15 fantastic templates you can use to respond to guest reviews!

Manage Your Online Reputation Like a Pro with Automatic Responses

The best way to stay on top of your online reviews is to make sure you have control over your online profiles. Claim your business listings on Facebook, Google My Business or Yelp for Business. This ensures that you know what’s happening and where, so you can actively monitor and respond to reviews.

With a comprehensive reputation management platform like ezRepute, you can define your templates, select, and respond to online reviews instantly.

Or you can automate the process by using the auto-reply feature to craft a thought-provoking response based on certain conditions.


You’ve made it to the end of this blog, which means you’ve taken the first step towards improving your online reputation. This fact alone puts you in the top percentage of brands who understand the power of amazing guest communication.

Why not take it a few steps further? An online reputation management platform like ezRepute can help convert your glowing reputation into more dollars for your business! How, you ask? Try out a free trial to see how ezRepute helps manage reviews, update listings, and outshine your competition all within one easy-to-use platform. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more top tips and helpful articles.

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