Google is the world's most popular search engine.

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.

As BrightLocal found that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, suffice it to say that the reviews on your Google My Business profile can have a big impact on you finding new customers. Google themselves have disclosed that responding to reviews — good or bad — increases your ratings. 

In this post, discover the importance of responding to Google reviews, and learn how to respond to the ones you receive from customers — both positive and negative.

Download Now: 20 Review Response Templates

Featured Resource: 20 Free Review Response Templates

Response template for positive and negative Google Reviews

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 you've created your template, 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. Below we'll outline the steps to responding to Google Reviews on both mobile and desktop.

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.
    google my business profile manage reviews button

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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.

Manage Google Reviews

Depending on your individual business needs, the way you choose to manage your Google Reviews may be different. For example, some businesses may make it a priority to respond to every single review they get, while others focus on reviews that contain specific elements, like a complaint or request.

Regardless of your strategy, consistent management of your Google Reviews looks as follows:

  • Creating a business-specific plan for when to respond to reviews based on your individual business needs.
  • Constant monitoring of your Google My Business account.
  • Reading all reviews as they come in, both positive and negative.
  • Deleting fake reviews when you come upon them.
  • Responding to reviews when they come in.

When you actually begin responding, you'll likely find that you receive both positive and negative reviews from customers. Each type of review requires a specific type of response in order to ensure customer satisfaction and to prevent potential churn.

In the next sections we'll discuss how you should respond to negative and positive Google Reviews, and provide examples of responses to each type.

Many companies and business owners fear responding to negative reviews because it is a digital confrontation. However, bad reviews should not cause anxiety. Instead, they should be a moment to improve your brand and customer service. After all, research shows that customers are 1.7x 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.

A negative response to a negative review will cost you customers. As 73% of consumers only look at the reviews from the last month, it is vital to respond in a positive way. Do not get emotional when it's your turn to respond to a bad review — have a logical procedure in place before clicking "reply." Take the rest of the day to contemplate your response, but don't take too long. BrightLocal claims that 20% of those who leave negative reviews expect an answer within 24 hours.

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.

Featured Resource

Review Response Templates

Fill Out the Form to Access 20 Free Review Response Prompts

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 conversation. 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 over 90% of Americans say brand transparency is an important factor when making purchasing decisions.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.unclear google review with little information

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With this review of a coffee shop, we don’t know what about the experience was dissatisfying. It’s hard to tell whether it was an issue with the coffee, service, or the actual store.

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 at the end of your response.

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 Example

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 Aug 27, 2021 2:00:00 PM, updated September 03 2021

Topics:

Customer Reviews and Testimonials Customer Service Tracking Software