The Ultimate Guide to Responding to Positive and Negative Google Reviews [With Examples]

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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.

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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 Reviews to learn exactly how to tackle it on this platform:

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.

How to Reply to Google Reviews from a Desktop

  1. Sign into 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."
  2. Click on "View and reply" when you find a review you want to engage with. 
  3. Once you click on "View and reply," a message box will open for you to write your response.

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How to Reply to Google Reviews from a Mobile Device:

  1. On your mobile device, open the Google My Business app.
  2. Click on the horizontal bars (the menu icon).
  3. Click "Respond Now" to reply to the customer that left a review.

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

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 of opportunity to improve your brand and customer service. So, how should you respond to them?

1. Don't be impulsive.

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. 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 done 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."

3. 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. Whether it's providing your contact information and following up with the customer offline, you should display empathy and effort into solving the complaint.

How to Respond to Good Reviews

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. So, how should you respond then to a good review?

1. 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."

2. 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).

3. 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!

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.

2. Apologize.

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.

3. Resolve.

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: According to HelpScout, if you solve a customer's complaint, they will continue doing business with you 70% of the time.

Positive Review Response Examples

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 sized 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:

"Hey Sally, First of all, 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."

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:

"Hey John, 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! Lol. 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.

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 or not 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 next.

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