Everyone knows about Yelp and how to respond to Yelp reviews. You've probably been educated on receiving customer feedback and doing your best to implement their feedback to improve the quality of your company.

However, you may not be as aware of Google Customer Reviews, and that's because it was only released in April 2017. Here's a brief rundown of how this free program works.

What is Google Customer Reviews?

Source: Google Maps

This relatively new program allows employers to collect feedback from users who've made purchases on their websites. A company's Google Customer Reviews rating helps users recognize which businesses are reputable and quality.

My favorite restaurant in Boston is Montien Thai Restaurant, which is shown in the example above. As you can see, when you search a business on Google Maps, you can immediately view their rating -- which, for Montien, is a pretty impressive 4.2 stars -- as well as the number of Google Customer Reviews that have been written. Upon clicking on "355 Reviews," you can view the bar chart that displays approximately how many one, two, three, four and five-star ratings this business got. Below that chart is a list of all the reviews which can be read by any user.

How Does Google Customer Reviews Work?

After a customer makes a purchase on your website, they will receive an option to opt-in for an email from Google requesting feedback on their experience purchasing from you. If the customer decides to opt-in, they may receive an email after their order has been delivered so they can comment on their experience using the purchase.

Each rating is collected and added to your overall rating, which is displayed on your optional website badge, in your Merchant Center dashboard, and in other areas.

There are four main features in the Google Customer Reviews program.

1. Google Customer Reviews Opt-in

Again, this option is offered to all customers after completing a purchase on your site. All customers who choose to opt-in may receive a follow-up email post-purchase.

2. Google Customer Reviews Survey

After opting-in, customers may receive this survey in an email. The survey is formatted as a brief questionnaire that helps customers rate their experience with the store.

3. Google Customer Reviews Badge

This optional badge can be placed on any page of your site to help visitors associate your company with Google. It will show a rating between one and five stars.

4. Seller Ratings

The total rating score that appears on Search Ads, Shopping ads, and on the optional Google Customer Reviews badges.

Seller ratings are an extension type that automatically reveals advertisers with higher ratings. The data for seller ratings are gathered from reliable customer review sources -- such as Google Customer Reviews -- and help customers find businesses that are quality and trustworthy.

google-seller-rating-example

Source: Google Ads Help

Now that you understand how influential Google Customer Reviews, it's all the more essential that you follow practices that will garner you the best possible reviews. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you provide a great customer experience, and, thus, get as many positive reviews as possible.

5 Simple Steps to Getting Positive Google Customer Reviews

1. Respond to all reviews immediately.

Regardless of whether the review is positive or negative, you should have a designated person or team who's in charge of responding to Google Customer Reviews as soon as possible.

Positive reviews -- while not as urgent as negative reviews -- should be given a fairly immediate response. You want to show that you are grateful to the customers who took the time to fill out the Google Customer Reviews survey and give you a glowing review. A simple "thank you" can encourage them to make a repeat purchase.

Negative reviews require thoughtful, immediate responses. The longer a negative review sits without reply, the more prospects will read the review and make up their own opinions about your business based on it. The best thing to do with a negative review is to thank the customer for taking the time to give feedback and offer to move the conversation off of Google Customer Reviews and onto a phone call or email exchange. That way, prospective customers will see that you weren't quick to point fingers, but you can also move what could be an angry conversation onto a private platform.

2. Create social media accounts to connect with customers.

If your customers can only base their review off of your site experience, it can really be a hit or miss. However, by offering other options for interacting with those customers, they'll have more to discuss in their reviews.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are also great platforms for answering questions and responding to customer complaints. By handling a negative experience via social media, you might be able to elicit a positive Google Customer Review in return. A customer may be impressed by your response and have their mind completely changed about your business. Communication is key in this sense.

3. Aim for a percentage, not a number.

The more reviews you get, the higher the chance that there will negative ones. No matter how hard you work to provide a satisfactory customer experience, there will always be some people who had one negative experience or who make mountains out of molehills.

As your number of reviews grow, allow more flexibility in the types of reviews you're receiving. This is why it's best to maintain a goal percentage of positive reviews, rather than goal number. Let's say your company wants to attain 80% positive reviews. Whether you have eight out of ten glowing reviews and only 2 negative ones -- or 800 out of 1,000 with a whopping 200 complaints -- you can feel accomplished in hitting and maintaining your target.

4. Display the Google Customer Reviews badge on your site.

If you have a solid rating, why not show it off to every site visitor? Google Customer Reviews gives you the option to add a badge to any page of your website, showcasing your average rating. Simply seeing that impressive number on your site will surely entice many prospects to trust and purchase from your business.

Naturally, if your rating is not-so-great, you may not want to place the badge on your site. However, a low rating should only light a fire under your business to want to do more for its customers. By striving to reach the day when you can proudly display the badge on your website, your company will be able to reconsider its strategy in order to prioritize customer experience.

5. Be kind and patient.

Most of all, remember to always remain kind and patient. If someone leaves you a harsh review that hurts your rating, don't jump to the defense. Instead, step into their shoes, and try to imagine what could have led them to give you such negative feedback. Often times, this kind of feedback is what helps companies re-align their objectives and attain greater success. So, always thank them and actually take their feedback into consideration.

In addition, try to be as patient as you can. Companies don't receive stellar ratings overnight. It takes hard work and a lot of dedication to your customers to get a five-star rating. Don't constantly be on the hunt for new tricks for convincing customers to give you positive reviews. Manipulation isn't going to get you where you want to be. Steady perseverance, belief in your cause and products, and a genuine desire to improve the lives of your target audience will.

Next, read this article about why you shouldn't buy Yelp reviews.

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Originally published Oct 18, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated October 18 2018

Topics:

Customer Reviews and Testimonials