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The most memorable retail brands have a unique brand voice that influences the tone they use in communicating with customers, whatever the medium.

Brand voice reflects a brand’s “personality” and is consistent throughout advertising, web content, packaging and response to customer inquiries. A brand’s tone, while reflective of the brand voice, is more adaptable to context.

For example, a brand with a fun, irreverent voice may use a more serious tone when a customer experiences a difficult or unpleasant interaction with the brand, so as to reassure the customer that the brand takes customer comments seriously.

When responding to reviews, retail brands should ensure their response resonates with their overarching brand voice to support branding consistency.

Why Responding to Retail Reviews Is Essential

Retail reviews

Responding to reviews is one of the best ways to improve a brand’s reputation.

Monitoring, reading and responding to customer reviews is essential to any brand’s reputation. Responding to positive reviews can help cement brand loyalty, while responding to negative reviews has the potential to turn things around and re-engage the customer.

However, responding doesn’t mean quickly typing up an “off-the-cuff” reply. Review responses should reflect brand voice just as all other brand content reflects brand voice. When review responses resonate with the overall branding, they strengthen the brand and present a unified “voice” in customer interactions.

(Download “Turn Your Customers into Brand Champions” to learn more about how to respond to reviews appropriately for your brand.)

brand champions - Matching Your Review Response to Your Retail Brand Tone

When Review Responses Don’t Align with Retail Brand Voice

If a brand’s response to a review or complaint does not align with the overall brand voice, there is greater potential for misunderstanding and confusion. Suppose, for example, your brand offers high-end, sophisticated products designed for people who are conscientious and fastidious.

While a negative customer review might be unsettling, responding without thinking first can make the situation worse. A quick, snappy response that matches a customer’s unhappy tone and dispenses with professionalism can turn a single bad review into a much bigger problem.

By responding in alignment with the brand’s sophisticated voice, you gently guide the conversation to a tone that makes it easier to address the problem and turn around the customer’s experience.

When Review Responses Align with Brand Voice

A review response that matches your brand voice is reassuring. It demonstrates to the customer that your brand is the brand they know and love and that people throughout your organization share the brand’s values.

Retail reviews

Review responses that align with brand voice convey brand values and resonate with customers.

The tone you use in a response may vary somewhat to match the review and the context. For example, even a more reserved and formal brand can “let its hair down” a bit when responding to a delighted customer. Likewise, an informal, “fun” brand can turn serious when a customer experiences a serious problem.

The following table shows hypothetical examples of review responses that take appropriate and inappropriate tones.

Company TypeExample ReviewAppropriately Toned ResponseInappropriately Toned Response
Casual, “youthful” company that sells athletic shoesI wore my new A4120 running shoes twice, and the sole is already coming off. Not cool!I’m so sorry to hear that. Can you return them to the store and let us know if you have any trouble returning or exchanging them? Feel free to show the store this review. If you have any trouble, or if you’d rather we send you a postage-paid return box, private message me so we can get this straightened out ASAP!Customers have 30 days to return athletic shoes to the point of purchase for refund or exchange. We do not make refunds or exchanges without your original receipt, dated within the designated time frame.
A high-end appliance companyThe delivery of my new refrigerator was three days late and when it finally arrived, it didn’t work! My food is spoiled! I am extremely dissatisfied with this!!!This is clearly unacceptable, and I apologize. Please send me a private message right away with all the details of what happened, and I will address the issue promptly. Again, please accept my apologies.First of all, our delivery schedule varies from day to day, so I’m sure no one gave you a specific time for delivery. Also, if the refrigerator doesn’t work, that’s not our problem. That’s between you and the manufacturer. You can call the manufacturer directly. I’m sure the number’s in the book.

By keeping voice constant and adapting tone appropriately, you reassure customers that you are listening. When customers know brands listen to them, they are more likely to have a positive brand perception and remain loyal.

Retail reviews offer brands a prime opportunity for strengthening their reputation, whether the reviews are positive or negative. Responding without regard to brand voice can be jarring and can derail what could be a good opportunity to repair a bad customer experience. By responding in a way that consistently reflects the brand voice, brands reassure customers and set the stage for positive future interactions. Download the 2020 Retail Reputation Report to learn how major brands are bolstering their online reputation today.

2020 retail report - Matching Your Review Response to Your Retail Brand Tone