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Responding to Online Reviews

04-20-15 by Julie Lee


In a recent Harris survey, the study found that only 68% of negative reviews receive a response. What’s more, out of that batch of negative reviews, 18% of reviewers reversed their opinion and became loyal brand advocates. Why? It’s all in your response. When your HVAC or plumbing company receives an online review, responding to this review is crucial to developing rapport. Yet in the end, it’s how you respond to that review that makes the difference.  Responding to reviews  is integral to managing your online reputation, absorbing feedback and praising or winning back customers.

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs

Positive Reviews

When you receive that first rave review, it might be easy to just skip a response. However, at least take the time to thank the customer for the review. Acknowledging that they took time to share their experience with a simple thank you can go a long way. Customers have to feel empowered to write a review of your company, so don’t let that energy go to waste.

Responding to positive reviews can be broken down into 4 steps.

                                                          Acknolwedge + Listen + Praise + Follow-up                                                             

Here is an example response to a positive review: “Thank you for sharing your experience with our team. We’re glad we were able to get your system up and running again. We greatly appreciate your support and hope to continue working with you. If you need anything for the future, please let us know and we would be happy to help.”

The sample response above is short and simple.

  • Acknowledges the customer and thanks the customer for the reviews. 
  • Listens to their praise / concerns to address what work was completed.
  • Praises the customer for supporting the business.
  • Follows-up with the customer for any future questions or concerns.

Negative Reviews

Did you know that that only 4% of dissatisfied customers will voice their opinion? When you receive your first negative review, it might be daunting to think about how to respond. Negative reviews can be dealt with in a couple of steps. Start by stepping away from the review. When a negative review first comes in, it is easy to get defensive. Take a breather, and then take a look at what the review says.

Acknowledge the customer and their review. Whether or not you agree with the customer, it is a best practice to sometimes take the high road in situations like this. How you respond to a review is just another factor in how people evaluate your business. Public responses can reveal a lot about how you deal with both positive and negative situations.

There is always an opportunity to make things right. A good tip is to take the resolution offline. Ask the customer to call or reach out to you for further customer service. By discussing the issue offline you hopefully will not keep a public record of your conversation.

Responding to negative reviews can be broken down into 3 steps.

Acknowledge + Listen/Feedback + Follow-up

A good example of a negative review response is:

“We apologize for your negative experience with our team. We understand your frustration with the service provided. We take all of our reviews as feedback on how to improve our business. It is not our intention to provide such an experience.

We want to make things right for you. If you could give me a call at 123-456-7890, I would like to speak with you further regarding this matter. Thank you.”

The sample response above is short and simple.

  •   Acknowledges the customer for the review.
  •  Listens to their feedback and concerns to show empathy towards the situation.
  • Follows-up with the customer to remedy the situation.

If further information is needed, or if you want to speak with the customer, reach out privately and ask them to contact you directly. This demonstrates to the customer that you are genuinely concerned about the matter and want to make things right.

Not every situation can be resolved with a response or private message. Some customers might be stubborn about the situation and not respond; some reviews might even contain false information. By responding even to negative reviews, other reviewers see that you genuinely care about keeping your customers happy.” or something along those lines.

If you do see a false or fictitious review, you can review the Terms of Service of the website that the review was posted on. In most instances, there are ways you can flag and report reviews that you think could be fakes. This won’t allow you to have any and all negative reviews removed from the site. However, if the negative review in question violates the website’s terms of service, you may be able to have that specific review taken down.

Respond In a Timely Manner

After you take a step back from the situation, make sure you have a system in play for managing your reviews. You don’t want a review going unaddressed for months after being received.  Timeliness is important here, because it shows potential customers reading the reviews that customer service is important and their comments and concerns are addressed.


Whether you receive a 5-star or a 1-star review, treat both with similar practices. Nobody wants to go unnoticed. Make sure you acknowledge all reviews, and adjust your response depending upon the context of the review itself.

Customers share their experiences online because they want to be heard. Don’t let another review go without a response.

Questions or comments? Let us know how you manage your reviews, or ask any questions you may have about responding to online reviews.


Julie Lee (2 Posts)

Julie Lee is a social media and reputation management specialist at iMarket Solutions. She has been involved in managing the social media presence for a high volume of clientele from strategy through execution. Her motivation and passion have helped her find success in her experiences.

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