Most business owners don’t know how to respond to Google reviews, and it’s hurting them big time.
Unfortunately, no matter how popular your business is a bad review will come at some point. It’s an inevitability that everyone has to deal with in this day and age.
Not only that, but a good number of businesses that know how to respond properly actually spend their time on the wrong sites. They stress about Yelp or Tripadvisor but miss out on the most important player.
The big G.
Out of all the review platforms out there Google should be your highest priority. Being aware of your overall review situation on other sites is definitely smart, but if you could only choose one it should definitely be Google.
Why is this?
The reach and exposure that Google reviews get is massive and will continue to grow over time. As Google moves to display their native in-search features more prominently, it’s only natural that they will do the same thing with their review platform over time.
This is why responding to Google reviews in a way that helps deal with the situation is an essential skill no matter the size of your company.
The most common mistake that we see countless businesses make is that they think responding to reviews on Google is easy. It’s as simple as just writing back and being nice right?
There are countless ways a poor response can lead to more problems for you later on down the line. It happens all the time.
The thing is, responding to Google reviews is more of an art than a science and it takes some experience to do it well. Fortunately there are some tips and guidelines you can use to make sure you don’t make any major mistakes.
Once you get these down, you can actually take a bad review and use it to make your business look great.
Alright, it’s time to turn you into a review responding master.
If The Reviews Are Reasonable
Let’s get this out in the open right away. This is where most of the mistakes are made when it comes to responding to Google reviews.
Because getting criticized hurts and it’s often tough to leave your ego at the door. This leads countless business owners to lash out at reviewers who might have had a decent point.
This makes their business look awful, and guarantees that they lose customers.
If you want to avoid this you need to leave emotion out of the equation and take an honest look at each and every review that comes your way. You need to look and see if there’s any possible truth to what they mention.
You see, it’s completely fine to acknowledge when things weren’t going as well as planned. For example your team could have been swamped due to an unexpected order and the wait times got a little long.
These things happen. The worst course of action you can take is to ignore it or try and say that the reviewer was wrong when they weren’t.
Instead, this is a great opportunity to be honest about the situation. Explain what happened, apologize, and try to make it right.
Let’s look into some of the subtleties you should be aware of when learning how to respond to Google reviews. The nature of your business or topic of the review can impact what direction you take.
If the review is about your service or product
Responding to a review on Google about your service or product is one of the most common issues that people run into. These reviews tend cut deep no matter how polite they are, because it’s critical about the essence of what you offer.
We can’t stress this enough, leave emotion out of it! If you can do that you’re already going to be ahead of the game when responding to these types of reviews on Google.
So where do you start?
Let’s assume that an example review simple says that the service you offer or product you’re selling doesn’t work as well as the customer hoped. This isn’t a fluke situation, it’s just really not that great.
They even go further to provide some information as to why they expected more from the product and their issues with it. Overall it’s pretty level-headed and not a direct attack.
When responding to a Google review like this you have to make sure you have the right approach. Keep it focused and on point.
If they say that your product wasn’t effective there are a few things that you want to remember:
Respond quickly so they know you’re on top of everything and engaged/committed to resolving whatever issues exist promptly. The same response two weeks late will be much less effective.
Apologize within your Google review response so other customers can see it and you can get it out in the open fast. It might seem like a little thing, but it can make a big difference.
The next step you want to take is to ask them to contact you directly. This shows that you’re taking their review seriously and allows you to move the forum of discussion into a more private arena.
From a search engine optimization standpoint this allows you to keep additional negative content off of your review page as well.
As far as how to resolve the issue once you’ve made contact, that’s up to you. It might be a refund or simply giving them information on how to use the product to achieve better results. This is where it comes down to your judgement as a business owner.
If the review is about your staff
This is an area that a lot of people struggle with when it comes to responding to reviews on Google.
This often gets mistakenly turned into a dilemma between supporting your staff or throwing them under the bus. This leads business owners to make mistakes when responding when it was completely avoidable.
There’s a middle ground you can take when it comes to poor reviews about members of your team, and it’s all very situational.
The first thing you need to do when someone claims one of your staff did something subpar or worse, is acknowledge the reviewer. You’re already right there reading it, so take the extra two seconds to say that you’re looking into it and will get back when you know more.
Next up you should look into the matter within your team promptly (or notify the appropriate manager). This should be treated as a high-priority issue because the sooner you can respond to the Google review with an update.
Once you have something it’s on you to give the appropriate response. This will look more like your response to a product or service review and is up to your discretion in regards to how you want to handle it.
The most important thing to remember here is to not have a knee-jerk reaction one way or the other. Handle it with a level head and you will get great results!
Responding To Unreasonable Google Reviews
This is where things become very much about patience and keeping your cool. The number of businesses who let a review from a crazy person bait them into making themselves look terrible online is far too high.
Don’t join that club.
If you want to know how to respond to Google reviews that are fabricated or completely unreasonable the first thing to do is proceed calmly. Sure, it’s frustrating (or infuriating) to have someone do this but you have to take the high road.
Once you’re sure you can proceed with a level head you can start thinking about the next steps.
Remember the value of your brand and how important it is for you to look professional online. How you choose to respond to this Google review is a big opportunity for your business.
Here’s how you knock it out of the park with your answer.
Check with your records and employees to make sure there’s no shred of truth to what was said in the review. This will give you the ammo you need to fire back professionally and put the review behind you.
If this process confirms that the review is unreasonable then calmly type up a response that highlights this without coming across as aggressive.
If the review is a lie, say you checked and there are no records of them being at your business. If the reviewer was expecting something that you don’t provide, simply state that and apologize for any confusion they might have had beforehand.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or drawn out, just address it with facts and move on. Doing this promptly will help turn the perception around in the eyes of people viewing your page.
Learning how to respond to Google reviews can sometimes be all about knowing when to keep things simple and not waste your time. These are situations that greatly benefit from that course of action.
The Luxury Of Cruise Control (and how to get there)
While it’s always worth it to be aware of your rating situation so you can respond to Google reviews that need your attention, it can be a huge time sink.
You have other more important things to spend your time on, so wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to worry about each and every review?
Here’s how you get to that point (hint: it’s with online reputation management).
The first thing to be aware of is how the number of reviews you have about your business plays a part in the impact a poor review can have. This means if you have five reviews, a negative review is going to hurt a whole lot more than if you have five hundred.
Increasing the number of positive reviews you have can change the game for you. Instead of having to stress about responding to Google reviews all the time you can afford to be a little more picky with what you get involved with.
In order to make this happen you need to commit to driving new positive reviews to your Google review page in some form or another. Don’t do anything shady like buy them, but you can absolutely promote your review page to your customers.
Start with some of your regulars who you know would love to leave a great review about you. Those are usually a great place to start and will help you quickly build some momentum.
After that you will need to implement some sort of plan or program across your business in order to identify new opportunities. This can be as simple as passing out some postcards or sending out a few email, it’s just important that you get started.
If you’re not sure where to start you can always reach out to us at BrandYourself and ask about our review management services that can help turn things around for you.
One thing to avoid is to cease responding to Google reviews once they begin to sting a bit less. You’re definitely going to be in a better spot, but neglecting your review situation can cause more headaches later on down the line.
Continuing to respond and be engaged will help you continue to paint your business in a positive light and earn more business. If you neglect interaction in favor of sending more and more reviews you will be stuck on that hamster wheel forever.
Do things the right way and respond to reviews on Google whenever necessary. Once you handle them a few times it will become quick and painless (kind of).
These same principles apply to other review sites as well as your social media profiles as well. Find out where your customers are talking about you and make sure you’re part of the conversation.
Depending on the size of your business this might mean keeping tabs on things once a day or once an hour. Find out what works for you and get involved.
Neglecting to respond over a long period of time can dig a hole that’s hard to climb out of. You can’t just respond to everything in bulk, the damage has been done.
What’s Up Next
Now that you have a good strategy for how to respond to reviews on Google there are a few things you need to do.
The first is look at your review situation and see what needs to be dealt with right away. Chances are if you landed on this post you have something that fits the bill here.
Take what we told you and put it into practice. Above all else, be calm!
After that it’s time to move on to your overall review management strategy where you try to earn new positive reviews. This might be tricky to implement at first but trust us it’s definitely worth it.
Do the same thing for your social media profiles and other review sites. Getting a complete indication on where things stand when it comes to your business is crucial.
Here’s where we come in.
If any part of this process seems like it might be too tricky to deal with due to your team size or resource constraints we’re more than happy to help.
We’ve been helping clients respond to Google reviews and generate positive ratings on various sites for years now, as a matter of fact we have a full team dedicated to it!
We hope this has been helpful and you have what you need to get started. Learning how to deal with reviews can be intimidating at first, but once you get some practice it can become a major asset for your business.