Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

How to decide which online reviews to respond to

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Businesses, products, even doctors are reviewed online now. Everyone has license to be a critic is one way to look at it. Another way is that people have the right to participate, share their experiences and help others in our communities make better decisions about those things being reviewed.

Of course with people sharing their opinions and experiences – real and perceived – questions of responding to all these reviews comes up:

Should we respond to only negative reviews or all reviews?

Who will do the responding?

Why do people leave reviews in the first place?

Most of the time, people leave reviews when they feel strongly about something. They are either upset or dissatisfied or they are super happy about it.

Think about the stories we share with friends. We don’t say: “Oh yeah, I had an average (experience.)”

We typically say:

“Can you believe this!!!!!! It was so bad. Here are the details….”

Or we might say:

“I’m in love with …. The service is the best. So helpful….”

People often share the best and the worst – for the most part. I have seen more and more “neutral” reviews from time to time but they don’t really help me make up my mind to buy or engage with that organization.

So that’s something to keep in mind.

Recommended reading for you:

Post your ratings for all to see

PODCAST: It’s OK to share your knowledge publicly online

Responding to positive reviews

I look at reviews as an extension of life. Our lives used to be offline only. Now they extend online.

What would we do if somebody gives us a compliment offline. We say “thank you. I appreciate it.” We respond. We wouldn’t just stand there, say nothing and ignore it. That would be rude, wouldn’t it be.

I think of responding online similarly. If somebody talks to me, I respond. If my service caused a problem I’ll fix it and respond as well.

And that’s not just the case when people post things online. Once, I was presenting at a conference and gave away books to people who participated in a session. I changed the rules along the way.

One person rated my session six out of six but also called me on the book thing afterwards. The person sitting next to her did as well. They said they should have gotten a free copy after the rule change. That was true. And I missed it unfortunately during the session.

These were conversations by instant message so not even public. Either way, it didn’t leave a good impression with them. It was easy to correct though:

I apologized

Explained myself

Handed over another signed book


How to respond to negative reviews

Responding to negative reviews is no different in concept.

Try to identify and understand the main problem addressed by the person

Respond appropriately but never with a canned message. Always customize your responses – even when the base comes from a canned, standard response

Move the conversation to a private channel when necessary, but keep in mind that not all conversations need to be private. Just because it’s negative that doesn’t mean it needs to be private. If an answer would release private information, it certainly needs to move to another channel.

The key is to acknowledge the issue, emphasize, respond quickly and with a solution – as applicable.

Responding to reviews and mentions online can help us strengthen our brands. Certainly, it can be harder for larger brands. For smaller brands, the owner might be able to handle responding or a small team can. The larger the brand the more people you’ll need to hire to respond! Airlines do this well. Delta and American Airlines, for example, respond quickly and it appears to most public messages. Delta even says that they do that in ads.

Reviews, blog comments, social media questions all fall into similar models for me. When people talk to us – positively or negatively – we should respond. It’s the nice and right thing to do.

It shows that we are listen, participate and care.

Recommended reading for you:

Job candidates now post reviews of interviews


One final note: I’m not a lawyer and what may or may not be said by your organization or business may depend on different laws. They all apply so make sure processes are hammered out ahead of time to comply with laws while you are also a valuable and transparent member of your community.


Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life!

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph 319-389-9853

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