How (and Why) to Respond to Positive Online Reviews
Responding to positive feedback is often sidelined as business owners focus on damage control for negative customer reviews. After all, how often do you see an ecstatic Yelp review go viral?
Yet engaging customers who are already enthusiastic about your business is the perfect way to create a loyal following and a strong referral network. In fact, 78% of consumers say that hearing from management about their reviews makes them believe the business cares more about them.
The benefits of responding to positive reviews are twofold: You attract new customers with your thoughtful, engaged responses, and you boost retention rates, which have a radical impact on your bottom line.
We make it easy to add this business ritual to your weekly routine. Here’s how to prioritize reviews and craft personal notes that will help your business thrive.
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Build search credibility with reviews
This isn’t just about increasing your pool of happy customers — responding to reviews increases your visibility in search engines, especially for localized searches. When Google ranks a business, it looks specifically at the nature and volume of reviews, as well as the consistency.
To benefit from a higher visibility on search engines, encourage reviewing across multiple platforms. Don’t just stick to Yelp — instead, create review opportunities across a number of different sites, especially Google. (The search engine favors its own rating platform.)
Next, ask happy customers to share their positive experiences online. Research shows that about 70% of people will follow through with a review when asked. When you hear about a fantastic experience, ask your customer if they would be willing to offer that same praise on a review site. Consider taking this approach to the next level by sending emails to your newsletter list requesting reviews, which will help boost the volume of positive comments online.
This kind of engagement can start anytime and anywhere, but it’s essential that you bring it to the review sites themselves. Here’s why: You can boost the visibility of amazing reviews by responding with your company name, location, and any keywords you wish to highlight. That way, positive reviews, rather than negative ones, end up at the top of searches. Plus, customers are more likely to leave a note of praise if they know you’re absolutely going to respond in kind.
Prioritize the customers who prioritize you
Business owners have to prioritize their time to be successful. If you only have an hour a week to respond to customer reviews, here’s the best approach: Spend the most time replying to reviewers who spend the most time on you.
The longer and more detailed the review, the more effort you should give it. A long response to an over-the-top review can tip the scales, turning happy customers into advocates for your business.
No matter how brief your responses are to shorter reviews, personalize them by including the name of the reviewer and mentioning the specific characteristics of the experience. Generic responses seem robotic — they don’t build real relationships and can detract from the customer experience.
Your map for responding to online reviews
There’s more than one way to write a great response to an online review. Your words should depend on the customer, the context, and the nature of your business. Here’s a dynamic approach you can adapt to each unique review, complete with three real-world examples.
Write their name
When you want to create a personal connection, always start by saying someone’s name. It shows you care about who your customers are enough to engage with them as individuals. Maybe you’ll even remember their name the next time they pop into your shop or place an order with your business.
Example 1: “Hi, Martha,”
Example 2: “Hello, Dev.”
Example 3: “Good Morning, Imani!”
There are a lot of ways to express gratitude. Varying your approach ensures people know you took the time to absorb and respond to their thoughts. Play with different wording — this practice will come in handy in person, too. Here’s a good opportunity to add your company name and location for SEO purposes. We bolded keywords below.
Example 1: “Thank you for your lovely note. I so appreciate you taking the time to share your experience at GoodTimes Hair Salon here in Boston!”
Example 2: “Wow! I’m so blown away by your review. It made our day here at Milestone Restaurant.”
Example 3: “I can’t thank you enough for your kind review of Benny’s Carwash in Chicago.”
Mirror the details they share
People want to be heard, especially when they shared a detailed review online. Instead of limiting your reply to a thank you, dive into the details. By mirroring the customer’s review, you practice active listening. You can also incorporate any keywords you want to use for SEO purposes.
Example 1: “I’m thrilled that you loved the haircut Cindy gave you! Sometimes, it can be a bit scary to go for a different look, but you trusted our Dorchester-neighborhood salon, and I’m so grateful for that. I love that photo — you look absolutely stunning!”
Example 2: “More than anything, we want to bring family and friends together at our farm-to-table Tacoma restaurant. Thank you for celebrating your 60th birthday with us. Our staff loved sharing that milestone with you! I’m so glad everything from the service to each dish surpassed your expectations.”
Example 3: “We strive to be the best car wash in Northern Illinois. I’m glad we could help get your car in tip-top shape after that muddy vacation!”
PRO TIP: Match their tone
When you’re responding to positive reviews, match the tone of the reviewer. If reviewers are super enthusiastic, they want to know you’re super enthusiastic about them, too.
Give immediate value or inside knowledge
Offering something of value creates an equal exchange: Customers give you a wonderful review, and you give them something in return. If you can add on a bonus during your next interaction — a free drink, a new product to try, or even just relevant advice — your customer will feel even more like a VIP.
Example 1: “Let us know when you want to come in and refresh those highlights. I know Cindy’s going on maternity leave in a few weeks, but I’ll take care of you myself.”
Example 2: “That cake recipe you loved is an old family favorite of our chef. We published the recipe in Bon Appetit, just in case you even want to give it a spin at home. :) Either way, it’s a beloved favorite here — it will always be on the menu for you!”
Example 3: “Have you joined our customer loyalty program? When you buy 10 car washes, we’ll give you one for free!”
Offer thank you (again)
Close the response with a thank you to drive the key message home. Most importantly, you are grateful for customers, for their loyalty, and for their willingness to advocate for your business.
Example 1: “You’re the best, Martha. Thank you again for sharing such a positive experience. It means the world to us.”
Example 2: “Thank you again for sharing this special evening with us.”
Example 3: “Thanks again for being a loyal customer and writing this awesome review.”
Share a thoughtful sign-off
As you would in an email or note to a friend, sign off with a warm, positive sentiment. You can reference the next time you plan on seeing them again or give another nod to their experience.
Example 1: “Enjoy that beautiful haircut!”
Example 2: “We look forward to celebrating the next family occasion with you, Dev!”
Example 3: “We’ll see you soon, Imani!”
Why you should always respond to positive reviews
When you respond to a customer online, you can have the same impact as sharing a big smile or a warm hug with a customer in person. As communities move online, that same spirit of generosity and appreciation should infuse your interactions across every forum. People notice that extra effort.
Plus, positive reviews make potential customers almost 70% more likely to trust a local business. Just as you would thank a customer for a referral, you want to thank them for an amazing review, too.
“We make sure that our team responds to every single review — positive or negative,” Michaela Prouzova of Nimble, Inc. told TechRepublic. “All this builds trust and humanizes our brand, which is really important, because we all know that people buy from people they know, like and trust.”
The next time you’re tempted to skim through notes of praise online, think about how you would respond in person. Acting as graciously on review sites as you would face to face builds trust and real relationships. By sharing gratitude and acknowledgment, you expand your community and deepen its loyalty. In time, you’ll look forward to the opportunity to respond to the wonderful things customers are saying about your business.