June 19, 2020

No Response Is a Response: The Hard Truth About Ignoring Your Customers

71% of people who read online reviews say they are more likely to patronize a business that responds. Responding could be the competitive advantage you need to win more customers.

robin worrall

If you wished someone a good morning and they ignored you, you would be offended. Why? For one, it’s rude. And in a way, no response is a response. By not returning your greeting, that person is saying that they don’t care about you.

The same is true for online communication. We may have grown comfortable with an email going unresponded for a few days, but if that email remains unresponded for an entire week, someone’s feelings are going to get hurt. 

This logic also applies to online reviews. Ignoring your reviews won’t be written off as laziness, it will make a poor impression on both your current clientele and potential customers. In fact, 71% of people who read online reviews say they are more likely to patronize a business that responds. Responding could be the competitive advantage you need to win more customers.

Let’s get a bit more detailed and discuss the messages you might be sending by not responding to your online reviews.

Your business is ungrateful.

If you’re doing things right, most of your online reviews will be thank yous from happy customers. They may mention details about the facilities, the names of the employees they worked with, and the products they purchased. Overall, reviewers provide the information that influences 97% of consumers’ buying decisions, quite literally bringing you more business. Not responding to positive feedback can be perceived as impolite and suggests that you don’t value your customers. Thank them for their support, acknowledge what they’ve written, and encourage them to visit your store again. 

Your business doesn’t want to make things right with unhappy customers.

A smaller portion of your reviews will be critical feedback. To a certain extent, this is normal and expected. Not responding, however, can make a negative situation worse. If an upset customer airs their grievance and you don’t answer, you are telling them that you have no interest in correcting your mistake. More broadly, you are telling potential customers that you don’t care whether you provide a good experience or a bad one. We recommend you offer an immediate apology along with a solution to make things right - a proactive next step is key. Provide contact information, or better yet, reach out to the customer offline so that you can ensure all of their concerns are addressed.

Your business isn’t taking steps to improve. 

Negative online reviews are an opportunity to earn back a customer’s trust, but they also provide insight into how you can improve for all of your guests. When someone takes the time to share helpful feedback and you don’t respond, you’re sending a message that your business doesn’t want to grow. Instead, show your appreciation. Explain that you will take what they’ve written into consideration moving forward and offer contact information in case they want to discuss anything else. Better yet, follow through on your promise and use your customers’ suggestions to improve your business. 

If you’ve been overlooking your online reviews, it’s time to take action. Remember: no response is a response. For a complete guide on how to respond to both positive and negative reviews, including 19 examples pulled directly from Google, click here.


Jane Garfinkel

I’m a New Jersey native who joined the Widewail team during my brief stint in Burlington. Now living in Jersey City, I currently serve as the Response Team Lead and Content Specialist. My background is in writing and my work has been published by Thrillist, Reductress, McSweeneys, The Rumpus, and more. I occasionally update my own blog No Meat, Some Potatoes, and in my free time I hang out with my dog Jake.

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