Google is the world's most popular search engine, and when your potential customers take to this huge source of information to start researching products and services, business listings appear — along with recent customer reviews with starred ratings and comments. And since BrightLocal found 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, suffice it to say that your Google My Business listing can have a big impact on you finding new customers.
Can you respond to Google reviews?
Yes. As a business owner, you have the ability to respond to Google reviews and actually engage with your customers. You can either respond to Google reviews via your desktop or a mobile device through your Google My Business account.
What's more, a Harvard Business Review study found that when businesses responded to customer reviews — good or bad — ratings subsequently increased.
Responding to online customer reviews, especially when they're bad, can help you learn from your mistakes as a business owner -- and this learning curve will improve your customers' overall experience and your business' reputation.
Read our comprehensive guide to Google Customer Reviews to learn exactly how to tackle it on this platform.
Featured Resource: 20 Free Review Response Templates
Responding to reviews can be time-consuming, difficult, and flat-out awkward. To save time, use these 20 review response templates to inspire your own response.
Once your inspiration is set, follow these steps to get started.
How to Reply to Google Reviews
- Sign in to Google My Business by navigating to business.google.com.
- Click the three horizontal bars in the top left-hand corner to choose your listing.
- Click "Manage reviews." Once you find a review you want to engage with, click "View and reply" to type out a response.
Before starting, it would be wise to set up Google My Business notifications, so anytime a new customer review is posted, you receive a notification.
One detail to note is that these actions may vary depending on the device you're using. To ensure you have the exact steps, let's break down how to reply to a review from both a desktop and mobile interface.
Review Response Templates
Fill Out the Form to Access 20 Free Review Response Prompts
How to Reply to Google Reviews from a Desktop
- Sign in to Google My Business by going to business.google.com. Then, click on the three horizontal bars in the top left-hand corner and click "All Locations." If you have multiple locations, click on the one you'd like to manage, then, press "Manage reviews."
- Click on "View and reply" when you find a review you want to engage with.
- Once you click on "View and reply," a message box will open for you to write your response.
Source: Connection Incorporated
How to Respond to Google Reviews From a Mobile Device:
- On your mobile device, open the Google My Business app.
- Click on the horizontal bars (the menu icon).
- Click "Respond Now" to reply to the customer that left a review.
While these steps break down the technical actions you'll need to take, they don't address how you should respond to a negative or positive review. Each type of review requires a specific response if you want to optimize customer satisfaction and prevent potential churn.
In the next sections, let's discuss how you should respond to both negative and positive Google Reviews, then provide some examples of companies responding to each.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
- Assess and evaluate the feedback internally first.
- Work off of a review response template.
- Publicly respond to the review.
- Work towards a 1:1 conversation.
- Be transparent about mistakes.
- Ask questions when details aren't clear.
- Empathize and offer solutions.
- Provide an incentive if necessary.
- Sign your name.
- Request an update for review.
Many companies and business owners fear responding to negative reviews because it is digital confrontation — opening a can of worms that will lead into rabbit hole. Bad reviews should not cause anxiety, but should be a moment to improve your brand and customer service. After all, research shows that customers are 45% more likely to visit your business if your company responds to negative reviews.
So, how should you respond to them?
1. Assess and Evaluate the Feedback Internally First.
You're better off assessing the situation instead of immediately responding to a bad review. Customers have a lot of power online, and if you react to a negative review without thinking it through, you will fuel your angry customer.
Geoff Toff says that "if they're angry enough (however unfairly) and care enough about getting the reaction they want from you (however petty that might be), they can spread negativity all over your reputation online, and people will probably believe it until they see a reason to think otherwise."
Do not get emotional when it's your turn to respond to a bad review — have a logical procedure in place before clicking "reply."
2. Work Off of a Review Response Template.
It's easy to respond to a negative review with frustration and defensiveness. This solution can easily backfire, frustrate customers, and tarnish your reputation online. It's best to work off of a negative review response template to help mellow out any animosity you might be feeling and respond kindly and appropriately.
3. Publicly Respond to the Review.
This means, don't hide and privately reach out to your customer, but respond to them on the platform that they posted the review (privately responding alongside a public response is good as well). Whether they left you a bad review on Capterra or Google, do not avoid digital confrontation. Responding publicly to bad reviews shows your customers and potential customers that you care and are attentive.
Why should you care that you're attentive? Because it can lead to increased business. A study conducted by Cornell University revealed that responding to negative hotel reviews "appears positively related to the consumer's view of the hotel, as measured by increases in the TripAdvisor score."
4. Work Towards a 1:1 Conversation.
Your first response to a negative review should always be made on Google. However, Google Reviews isn't always the best place to host a customer service conversation. It's not a real-time communication channel nor is it a 1:1 interaction with the customer. Other people can like their comments and write additional reviews supporting or adding context to the first customer's experience.
If you know a negative review is going to take some time to reconcile, then you should work towards a 1:1 conversation with the customer. That doesn't mean you're trying to hide the problem or save face online, but rather, your priority is to meet customer's needs and that means communicating with them on the best channels available. Google Reviews did its job by highlighting the poor experience for your business. Now it's time to rely on your trusted customer support channels like phone, live chat, and email, to solve the problem.
5. Be Transparent About Mistakes.
No business is perfect, and as your customer base grows, your team is bound to make mistakes. After all, customers often have conflicting needs that make it impossible to satisfy everyone. It's how you respond to these mistakes, though, that determines how customers perceive your brand.
Being transparent is the best course to take when responding to a negative review. In fact, research shows that 85% of Americans are willing to stick with a brand that has a history of being transparent. Customers know your team isn't going to be perfect, but they expect you to take responsibility for your mistakes when they occur. This builds customer rapport and leads to long-term, loyal advocates.
6. Ask Questions When Details Aren't Clear.
Customers don't get paid to write reviews and some will focus more on submitting a negative score then explaining their problem with your company. You might come across a vague review like this one where it's hard to determine the customer's problem.
With this review, we don't know what type of problem the customer is having nor do we know the system errors they're reading. It's hard to tell whether this is a problem with the product, or potentially user error that's resulting in friction.
If we want to effectively respond to this review, we need to ask questions and get more information from the customer. This will start a healthy dialogue that will help us diagnose the customer's roadblock. Once we know the problem, we can provide a solution.
7. Empathize and Offer Solutions.
If you just spend your time writing a fluffy response back to the customer apologizing for their experience and you've really taken the time to not be impulsive, but did not provide some sort of solution or actionable items to mitigate the issue, then you haven't properly responded to a negative review. Make sure to offer to make it right by providing some sort of solution.
8. Provide an Incentive, if Necessary.
Some customers just write negative reviews to blow off steam and have no intention of returning for your response. In these cases, you can recapture their attention by offering incentives that reinforce the sincerity of your response.
While you don't want to do this with every bad review, you can use customer lifetime value to determine if someone should get an incentive or not. For example, if a customer isn't spending much money with you, and is constantly writing poor reviews, then they may not be a "good fit" for your business. If you keep offering them a discount every time they complain, you'll end up losing money on this customer when you could have been using that discount to acquire or retain a customer with a higher lifetime value.
9. Sign Your Name.
This is a small detail that goes a long way. Signing your name after each response shows the customer that you're a real person. And, customers aren't only nicer when they're working with a human agent, they're also happier because it shows your company is invested in their review.
10. Request an Update for the Review.
It's important to remember that customer reviews are the start of a larger conversation. The customer's perception of your brand isn't stagnant and can change as they continue to interact with your company.
Once you send your initial response, be prepared to have an in-depth conversation with the customer. Talk to them about their experience and try to pinpoint exactly where your company fell short of their expectations.
If you feel like the customer is satisfied with your team's response, ask them if they'd be willing to update their review. Since you've just changed their perspective, it's the perfect time to ask them to edit their original feedback. Remember, that review is still public and future leads may not read the whole thread and see the positive outcome. Updating the original review is the best way to prevent you from gaining a negative reputation online.
Whether it's providing your contact information and following up with the customer offline, you should display empathy and effort into solving the complaint.
Examples of Negative Review Responses
Here are ideas for responding to negative reviews as a business owner.
1. Business/Agency Negative Review Response
If your company generates revenue from recurring, subscription or contract-based relationships, it's imperative that you respond to negative reviews. It can help you win back unhappy customers, and it can prevent other potential customers from reading them online -- and passing on you. If a current or former customer trashes you online, here's an example of how you could reply.
Dear [Customer name],
Thank you for writing a review, I sincerely appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention.
I'm sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience trying to get in touch with our customer service team, that's not what we like to hear. We've listed our available hours more clearly on our 'Contact Us' page and on social media, and if you ever need assistance at another time, you can consult our knowledge base and FAQ page in the interim, and we'll reach back out to you first thing the next business day.
Your business means a lot to us, so if you ever have additional feedback, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Doe, Director of Customer Support.
2. Retail/One-Off Purchase Negative Review Response
Negative reviews are important for retail stores or restaurants to reply to as well — especially negative Google reviews. You see, if you search on Google for the location of a store, or for "restaurants near me," Google pulls up Google Customer Reviews alongside contact information, hours, and directions. Here's an example of how to respond to a negative review:
Dear [Customer name],
Thank you for taking the time to write a review, I appreciate your feedback, and I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience visiting our restaurant last week.
On behalf of myself and everyone I work with, we take customer reviews seriously, and hearing that our salmon dinner was overcooked is never what we want to hear. I've shared your review with the chef, and we would love for you to come back in for dinner on the house so we can apologize in person and get it right. If you're interested in coming in again, please contact me at email@example.com to set it up.
I appreciate your patronage and hope to see you again soon!
John Doe, Restaurant Owner.
3. Ecommerce Experience Negative Review Response
If your business offers ecommerce, customers will focus their reviews on the quality of your website. Since the majority of customer touchpoints will take place on your webpages, you should be prepared to respond to feedback regarding user experience. If possible, try to include troubleshooting steps that can help the customer resolve their issue.
Here's an example of one situation that could occur.
Thanks for notifying us about this performance issue. It looks like there's an issue with image sizing on this page which is why the content doesn't seem to be loading for you. If possible, I'd recommend testing a different browser type to see if that performs better on your device. If not, feel free to contact our support team at [Insert Contact Info] and we'd be more than happy to assist.
Looking forward to your response!
John Doe, From Customer Support
How to Respond to Positive Reviews
- Respond quickly.
- Acknowledge them by name.
- Show your gratitude.
- Provide additional value.
- Encourage them to advocate.
- Include a friendly sign-off.
- Record their feedback.
Responding to good reviews is much simpler than dealing with an irate customer ranting on about how bad of a company you are. Many business owners focus their attention on responding to reviews solely when there needs to be damage control. This makes sense — how often does a positive review spread like wildfire? So, why bother with having your team respond to good reviews?
Because good reviews can create raving fans and that can compound into new business. Here's how you should respond to positive reviews:
1. Respond Quickly.
Even if a customer gives you a positive review, you shouldn't sit back and relax. Instead, you should reinforce their delight by responding to their message quickly. This shows that you're invested in customer feedback and are grateful for their review.
Additionally, if you can respond fast enough, you may be able to start a live conversation with the customer. There, you can obtain even more feedback by asking them about specific features, notable experiences, or minor points of friction. Not only will this provide you with valuable information, but it may also yield more positive feedback for your company.
2. Acknowledge Them by Name.
First and foremost, always greet a customer by their name, not some generic "hey there" or else it's not genuine (unless the name they leave is clearly fake like abc123). People's attention is activated when hearing their own names. In a study done by Dennis P.Carmody and Michael Lewis on Brain activation when hearing one's own and others' names, research showed that "hearing one's own name has unique brain functioning activation specific to one's own name."
3. Show Some Gratitude.
You cannot expect appreciation if you don't show any yourself. Expressing gratitude to a customer that left you a good review demonstrates that you don't just pay attention to the "squeaky wheel," but to the customer that doesn't give you a headache (which is surprisingly often overlooked).
4. Provide Additional Value.
So you think a simple thank you will get the job done? Maybe, but what is different about your brand than any other one responding to a good review? Providing additional value means you can share content with the customer that they can...well...get value out of! If your customer left a good review about how much they love the new feature in the app, offer to let them be beta testers on upcoming features — think outside the box!
5. Encourage Them to Advocate.
Positive reviews present an opportunity to turn happy customers into loyal advocates. When responding to a review, ask the customer if they'd be willing to share their review with others. Or, ask them if you can post their review to your company's social media pages. Sharing their stories with your followers is a great marketing tool for customer acquisition.
6. Include a Friendly Sign-Off.
Before you conclude the interaction, be sure to end things on a positive note. Sign your name to personalize the message and use an enthusiastic, uplifting tone. After all, you should be thrilled that the customer posted a positive review for the world to see.
7. Record Their Feedback.
Customer reviews — whether they're positive or negative — are learning opportunities for businesses. Your team can learn just as much from a positive review as it can from a negative one. And, it's important to record both types if you want to improve the customer experience at your business.
Negative reviews highlight the immediate problems with your customer experience and what customers think you can do to fix it. Positive feedback, tells you what you're doing right and what you should continue doing if you want to retain customers. It's important to keep track of both so you can correct flaws in your customer experience without jeopardizing any features that your customers like most.
Examples of Positive Review Responses
1. Business/Agency Positive Review Response
The question must be asked, what should your response to a positive review look like? Remember, customizing the response to the customers' review is vital.
Let's use the following example: You own a digital advertising agency that focuses on graphic design and social media marketing campaigns for small businesses. One of your customers, Sally, leaves you a positive review that raves about your quick response time to their requests as well as the quality of work that's being delivered by your company.
Here's an example of what a positive Google review response might look like:
Thank you so much for your positive feedback and for taking the time to post this review.
It's our customers that allow us to constantly improve the way we do business, one of which we're really proud of, the quick response time you've been experiencing. I'm so glad you're happy with the website we designed for you.
I would love to make your experience even more amazing, is there anything you would recommend us improving?
Thanks for your review, John Doe, Owner.
2. Retail/One-Off Purchase Positive Review Response
Remember, engaging with the customer and actually empathizing and caring for what they have to say will demonstrate that you value their opinion and the rest of the "eyeballs" on the internet reading your response will see that you actually take time to invest in your customers.
What if you own a restaurant and a customer left you a positive review on the white wine salmon dish they ordered? Here's another example:
I'm ecstatic to hear that you love the white wine salmon dinner you ordered at our restaurant.
Many of our customers were requested a wine-based dish and we thought this may be a hit. I'm definitely going to show our chef this review, I'm sure they'd love to know you were pleased with it.
Next time you come in for dinner, ask for me and I will come say hello -- I'll bring the chef too!
Thank you again for stopping by, John Doe, Owner.
Having your responses simple and thoughtful is all it takes for a customer to talk about you and to their friends the next day. In the example above, you've now incentivized the customer to come again to your restaurant (even if the incentive is non-monetary). Think about it, your customers cared first, they're the ones that took the time to actually write a positive review -- show them you care too by taking the time to respond.
3. Ecommerce Experience Positive Review Response
Positive reviews of your website are great for drawing additional traffic to your domain. After all, if customers are reading a review on Google, they're only a click away from visiting your website. They'll likely be curious whether the review is accurate and want to find out for themselves. So, be sure to optimize this traffic by sharing the review through as many digital channels as possible.
Here's one way you can do that.
So glad to hear that you're enjoying our website! If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to our support team using the live chat tool. They'll be happy to guide you through any question you may have without having to leave the page.
Additionally, since your review was so great, would you mind if we repost it to our social media outlets? Your story is exactly what we're trying to create and would love to show people that we are taking one step closer to achieving our goals.
Looking forward to your response!
John Doe, Customer Support Manager
How to Respond to Google Reviews as an Owner
As a business owner, you want to respond to Google reviews in a timely manner. Part of responding to customers' Google reviews is providing them with a resolution -- even if the review is positive.
As a business owner, you want to show your engagement with your customers whether or not their Google reviews are positive or negative. Here are three simple strategies on how to respond to positive and negative Google reviews as an owner to best represent your brand:
1. Customize each of your responses.
There's no need to write out an essay type of response, but you should definitely leave a thank you response with something short that is specific to the Google review.
For example, if your customer, let's call them Lisa, left a review saying that they love the newly added feature to your website for live chat, your responses can address the customer's name and also mention that your team worked very hard on releasing this live chat and that you're glad they are happy. This strategy applies to either a positive or negative review. If the negative review is left, spend some more time in empathizing with the customer.
Don't hesitate to apologize or admit fault of your customer experience subpar service. Apologizing as a business owner to your customers makes you a human being, and not a business person that only cares about the numbers.
Customers also want to know that a negative experience can be resolved somehow. Solving an issue for a customer goes a long way and can actually decrease customer churn: Our research found that if you solve a customer's complaint and resolve the mistake, they will continue doing business with you 96% of the time.
Customers are only as loyal as the residual value they receive from your business. Whether that value is monetary or not, showing customers and potential ones that you care about their feedback and take time out of your busy day to acknowledge their experience goes a long way. Whether you're dealing with positive or negative reviews, engaging will pay off for your Google ratings and your customer loyalty.
To learn more about customer reviews, read these testimonial questions to ask next.
Originally published Nov 24, 2020 12:19:00 PM, updated June 15 2021