How to handle online customer reviews

Today, running a small business is as competitive as ever.

Online customer reviews – they’re important

You only have to check Google to see how many options there can be for one product or service. That’s why online customer reviews and recommendations have become so important.

People want quick and easy decisions; whether it’s deciding on their next holiday destination, a local hairdresser, or christening gift. The blessing of the internet is the vast options there for perusal. The curse is that there can be too many choices.

So with many businesses providing similar services or products, how will the customer decide who to use? Online customer reviews are being used more and more for final decisions. Customers want to listen to other customer’s experiences and opinions to help them decide. Almost 80% of online consumers have chosen a product or service, based on a review, and almost half of internet shoppers see these reviews as being as reliable as a recommendation from a friend.

Positive AND negative online customer reviews are both important and as a small business owner, you cannot afford to ignore them. The question is; what is the best way to manage them?


One way to manage and keep track of reviews, is to proactively request for feedback from existing customers. There’s a variety of ways to do this; you can ensure comments are activated on your business website, send an email or text after a customer has bought your product or used your service, or direct them to your Facebook page, where you can activate reviews. One small business sends a surprise gift to every customer with a note thanking them for their purchase and guiding them to the places they can review them. It’s the nice little touches that can make a huge difference. 

This will help you as a business owner to improve existing online customer reviews and build awareness of your brand.


Of course there are two types of reviews; positive and negative. Both need a response.

With positive reviews; ensure you thank the customer and let them know of any similar products or services your business provides, and any special offers. It is good to keep up the relationship with the customer.

When it comes to negative reviews, EMS suggests one thing; respond as soon as you can. This can help with minimising damage control and show that you care. There’s no need to be afraid of these reviews, you may find that by responding, the customer changes their opinion anyway, and also it shows others that you are engaging and approachable.

Remember to keep responses professional; do not take the review personally and instead show understanding to the customer and offer answers. You never know, this could make the customer return in the future even though they’ve had a bad experience. It also shows other customers that you care about them all.

Check frequently

In order to keep on top of managing your online customer reviews, EMS would suggest setting up reminders to check reviews regularly. Most of you small business owners will not have time to check every day, but every few days or twice weekly is ample. You could set up tabs to the main review platforms; Google, Yelp and Glassdoor, and also check social media outlets, even ones you do not have a business account with, as social media is a popular outlet for people to vent their opinions and recommendations. Twitter and Facebook are the two most popular for reviews. If you sell your products on platforms such as Amazon, do not forget to check these too!

Keeping up with competitors

A final tip would be to see how your competitors are doing, and when you have a chance, check the reviews on them too. This will give insight into the industry and what customers like and dislike. You can most certainly learn from these reviews as well as your own businesses. 

Online reviews are only going to increase, so the key thing is to take advantage of them and learn from them. If they are managed properly they will be a help and not a hindrance. 

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