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.

Download Now: 20 Review Response Templates

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

Response template for positive and negative Google ReviewsResponding 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.

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. 

Featured Resource

Review Response Templates

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How to Reply to Google Reviews from a Desktop

  1. 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."
  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.
    Manage Reviews

Source: Connection Incorporated

How to Respond 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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

4. 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.

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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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

Negative Review Response Examples

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.

Originally published Mar 3, 2020 6:59:40 AM, updated April 28 2020

Topics:

Customer Reviews and Testimonials