How to respond to customer feedback online

A few weeks ago, I touched on the rise of online review sites like Yelp, and what kind of impact they can have on businesses.

What I didn’t touch on was how to react when someone leaves you feedback online.

If someone leaves a negative review on your Facebook page, it can be difficult to know what to do. Should you respond? Should you just leave it? And what about positive feedback – should you contact the reviewer to thank them, or is that too ingratiating?

Today, I want to look at a few of the many different ways businesses are managing their online customer feedback (both positive and negative), and what you can learn from each of them.

Respond to all feedback – good or bad

Gelato Messina’s immense popularity means that they have hundreds (if not thousands) of reviews online. On restaurant review site Zomato, they have just under 400 reviews alone. What’s truly impressive about that figure is that they have one of their team members checking Zomato every few weeks and responding to every single review, good or bad.

Good reviews (of which there are plenty) usually get a simple ‘Thanks’ in response, like in the first example below.

Negative reviews, on the other hand, are handled tactfully and simply.


Responding to feedback ensures happy customers feel valued, and not-so-happy customers feel that their complaints have been heard.

Respond quickly, even if you don’t have a solution yet

One of the key things to remember when dealing with unhappy customers is that managing their expectations goes a long way. More often than not, customers who have had a negative experience just want to know that their complaint has been heard.


As a budget airline, Jetstar gets its fair share of complaints on Facebook, and dealing with them all is probably a full-time job. However, the above complaint is a classic example of what happens when the ball is dropped and a complaint goes ignored.

Respond to your customer complaints in a timely fashion (ideally no more than 24 hours), even if it’s just to let them know that you’re looking into things and will keep them updated.

Keep it professional

There’s nothing quite as cringeworthy as a business having a highly visible online meltdown in response to a negative review. The Amy’s Baking Company debacle from a few years back is still one of the most notorious examples, but there are still plenty of businesses who are taking online criticism to heart, and lashing out online.


Obviously, responding to criticism like the restaurant owner in the examples above has is a bad idea, and is hardly likely to instil any prospective customers with faith.

It can be difficult to hear criticism of your own business, considering all of the time and effort you’ve poured into it. That said, if you do feel your blood pressure rising upon reading a negative review, it’s probably best to step away from the computer for a few minutes before responding.

Take feedback on board

While some of the feedback you get from customers will be outside of your control (I once got a complaint about the selection of music the busker outside on the street was playing), some of it will be valid, and will likely improve the way you do things.

If you’re consistently getting the same feedback from a number of customers, you need to accept this is a sticking point that needs to be addressed.


Scrolling through posts to Bellabox’s Facebook page, it’s easy to see that a large number of their customers consistently have concerns about their shipping timeframes. Rather than replying to dozens of complaints every month, it may be time to consider addressing the issue at hand.

It’s okay to have fun with it

A lot of the time, customers will engage with a brand online to get a reaction (see Woolworths getting into an Eminem-inspired back-and-forth with a customer for reference), and the way you respond will affect how your customers view you.

In these instances, it’s okay to use humour to respond – just be sure you don’t overstep the line.

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Well played, O2. Well played.

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