How to Respond to Google Reviews:
Positive and Negative
Your responses to Google reviews can have just as much of an impact as the reviews themselves. Learn how to reply to positive feedback, what to say to unhappy customers, and how to resolve difficult situations.
Why Do I Need to Respond to My Google Reviews?
Customer reviews can seriously impact your business reputation and customers’ decisions. While you cannot control what other people post online about your business, you can control the impact these reviews have on your business, simply by responding to them. Read on to learn how to respond to reviews on Google, and what to say specifically for positive and negative reviews.
PS: Are you looking to get more reviews to begin with? Check out our post on How to Get More Google Reviews, complete with example requests.
Why Can’t I Respond to My Google Reviews?
Anyone can add a place to Google Maps. This means your business could be on Google Maps and collecting reviews without you lifting a finger. In order to respond to your Google reviews, you need to claim your listing and verify ownership.
How Exactly Do I Respond to Google Reviews?
We’re going to cover the dos and don’ts of your actual responses later on, but first you need to know how to get to that response window where you can type out and submit your reply. There are three ways to do this:
Respond via Google My Business on Desktop
1. Go to your Google My Business Dashboard (https://business.google.com)
2. Click on the correct location (if applicable)”
3. Click on the menu and select “Reviews”
4. Click “Reply”
5. Once you’ve written your response, click “Post reply”
Respond via Google My Business on Mobile
1. Open the Google My Business app (link to App Store)
2. Tap “Customers”
3. Tap “Reviews”
4. Tap the review to which you’d like to respond
5. Once you’ve written your response, tap “Send”
Respond via Google Maps Desktop
1. Go to Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps)
2. Search for your business
3. Click on your Business’s Maps listing
4. Click on “Reviews”
5. Find the review you’d like to reply to and click “reply” next to the review
General Considerations When Responding to Reviews
Before we get into the specifics of positive and negative reviews on Google in particular, let’s go over some general tips to keep in mind.
Respond to negative and positive reviews
Responding to positive feedback is a way of engaging customers and revealing more about your brand personality to other consumers. While it’s not critical to respond to every positive review, we highly recommend responding to every negative review, which we’ll get into later.
Review responses are public
Your responses to reviews are visible on Google Search and Maps. Therefore, your responses don’t just impact the reviewer. When you take the time to reply to a review, you convey the message to other current and potential customers that you are attentive to feedback and committed to customer satisfaction. This can help to build your reputation, earn trust, and encourage more reviews.
Negative reviews aren’t altogether bad
If your business has a few negative reviews in the mix, don’t sweat it. They show have nothing to hide (and transparency is vital these days), and they make the positive reviews more sincere. Plus, a negative review with a proper response might have more of an impact on a consumer doing online research than a string of generic positive reviews.
You can learn just as much from positive reviews
Negative reviews are learning opportunities, but don’t forget that positive reviews reveal aspects of your business that make you stand out. Customers may even mention things that you might not have noticed yourself or thought to highlight to customers. You can learn about the little things that matter to customers when you pay attention and respond to the positive reviews.
How to Respond to Positive Google Reviews
Responding to positive reviews on Google reinforces your reputation, enables you to develop loyal customer relationships, and even affords you the opportunity to show your brand personality. Here are tips on responding to positive Google reviews:
• Express appreciation
Expressing gratitude reaffirms that your business is gracious and welcoming. It also lets readers know that you value and invite customer feedback.
• Be specific
Avoid using generic statements. Tailor your response to the specific things called out in each Google review.
• Reinforce the positive
Confirming a customer’s positive experience in your response is a great way to reinforce the aspect of your business that your customer is highlighting. For example, if a customer mentions the speed of service in their review, you might respond with:
“We are so glad to hear that you had a great experience with us. We train hard to make sure our team operates efficiently—glad to know it’s working!”
• Be timely
Consumers want to feel heard, so respond quickly to the feedback. It shows you’re paying attention.
• Share updates
Have a new product coming out? Planning to add a new service to your offerings? If it’s relevant, give the customer something to look forward to. For example,
“We’re glad you were happy with our product! We’ve got an even better version coming out in March…stay tuned!”
• Keep it short
It’s best not to respond to every positive review with a long message because that can become repetitive for review readers. Keep it short or respond to some reviews privately every once in a while, as nice and personable gesture to your customers.
Examples of responding to positive Google reviews:
Make sure customers know you appreciate their positive feedback on Google by responding as much as possible to the positive reviews.
How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews
Responding to negative reviews conveys that you are willing to address any issues and committed to customer satisfaction. The next section goes into more detail on resolving negative customer reviews, but here are some quick tips to start:
• Show humility
It can be tough to stay positive when dealing with an unsatisfied customer. However, the difference between responding humbly with an aim to fix the issue vs. being defensive can either attract or turn away potential customers.
• Clear up confusion
Sometimes a bad review can result from a misunderstanding between you and your customer. If there is an answer to their problem, offer any information on your products, services, or experience to clear up the misunderstanding.
• Share solutions for the future
Describe how you have solved or plan to address any issues described in the review. It offers peace of mind for searching customers.
Examples of responses to negative Google reviews:
Responding to Negative Google Reviews: A Deeper Dive
Every customer has their own preferences, expectations, desires, and wishes. In a perfect world, you would satisfy every customer; but in the real world, you can’t; and in the digital world, anyone can publish an online review of your business.
The good news is, if you go about responding to a negative review the right way, you can mitigate the damage, preserve your business reputation, and potentially even turn it into a positive review. Here’s how:
Before You Reply to the Google Review
You’re passionate about your business and you care about your customers, so negative reviews are going to sting. However, a negative state of mind will only make the situation worse. So take a big step back and a deep breath in. Remind yourself that negative customer reviews are an inevitable part of running a business. Think of them more positively as a challenge to tackle and an opportunity to learn.
Breathe and Wait
While prompt response time t0 reviews is important, it’s ok to take a breather to process the information before responding to feedback. High emotions can sometimes lead us to miss important details. Once you’ve taken a breather, return to the review and read it thoroughly. What is the customer saying? The feedback might be something as simple as the fact that the bread on their sandwich was soggy. It might be something more serious like abrasive customer service. Or it could be a big ouch like supplying the wrong color flowers to a customer’s wedding. Determine the severity of the feedback before responding. (And don’t forget to breathe! No matter how severe, there’s always a solution.)
Be the Customer
We’ve all been dissatisfied with a product or service at one point or another. Try to see the issue from the customer’s perspective to determine how to handle the situation. If you were in their situation, what would resolve the problem? By truly catering to what your customer needs most in the situation, you strengthen the integrity of your brand and values.
Evaluate Customer Influence
Who is giving the negative feedback? Is it someone from out of town passing through the area and unlikely to use your services again? Is the customer an influencer with a large following of people? Have they been a loyal customer since you’ve been in business? Every customer deserves a good experience, but customers with a stronger influence on potential customers are important to pinpoint.
Find the root of the problem
This does not mean finding out who to blame, but finding out where the breakdown occurred. Being able to explain the breakdown shows the customer that you cared enough to look into the issue, and may even get them to see the situation differently. It will also help you to come up with the most effective solution, as well as prevent it from happening again with other customers.
Keep in mind that your initial response to negative customer reviews will not likely contain this information. It should be aimed at apologizing. There is a time and a place for providing your explanation. There will also be times that you can’t find a breakdown on your end. Even still, you should still approach the situation with the same willingness to take responsibility.
Come up with an appropriate remedy
In addition to an apology and explanation, you may want to offer some sort of compensation to bring the customer back to your business. You might provide a refund, offer the same service discounted or free of charge, give a gift certificate, or add an additional service at no cost. Find out from your customer what will make them happy, and serve that need to the best of your ability.
Compensatory action in your response to negative customer reviews could mean the difference between simply satisfying your customer and actually retaining them.
Once You’re Ready to Respond to the Negative Review
Now that you’ve achieved the right mindset and gathered the important information, you’re ready to actually respond to the unhappy customer on Google.
Regardless of what went wrong and why, always apologize. Your initial message when responding to negative reviews is that you feel sorry that they are in distress, and would like to work with them on changing that. Apologize promptly to show that you care, and concisely (long explanations will come off as defensive).
This initial response should take place right on Google (see above on how to do so). This will help with your online presence and show both your customer and other visitors to the site that you are prompt and proactive with your customer service. Responding to negative reviews online is particularly challenging, as online communication can easily be misperceived, so make sure your message is clear.
Then take it offline
After promptly, clearly, and publicly expressing your apologies and willingness to take action, you should then propose to take the conversation offline. Offer to reach out via phone or email for a one-on-one conversation. This enables a deep dive into the situation and eliminates noise such as additional comments by other users. It is also during this more in-depth conversation that you can share your findings about the root of the problem.
In some cases you can offer a resolution publicly, such as:
“We’re so sorry the bread was soggy, sometimes that happens when we wrap up a hot sandwich! We’d be glad to have you come back for a free sandwich.”
We appreciate your feedback and are working on hiring more employees during the holidays so wait times are shorter.”
If a customer is very upset however, the best thing to do is to ask for the customer’s contact information to handle the situation in a private manner.
“We’re sorry for the inconvenience. We’d love to find out more information about the situation, what’s the best way to contact you offline?”
After You’ve Responded to the Negative Review
Follow up to make sure the customer is satisfied. Often a bad review can be bolstered by a good follow-up review on outstanding customer service. A negative review with a prompt followup and positive customer reaction may stand out more to a consumer than a string of general positive comments.
Get More Positive Reviews
A proper response can lead customers to edit, remove, or even replace their negative online reviews. Some customers even turn into fans of your business! However, this isn’t always the case. While you cannot delete reviews made on other platforms, you can reduce the review’s prominence. Obtain positive reviews to push the negative review further down the timeline and balance out your ratio.
Knowing how to respond to negative reviews, especially those that occur online, is the key to customer relationships and continued success. Negative online reviews are not the worst thing in the world, and when handled properly, can be turned into opportunities to better satisfy your customers and improve your business.
Stay on Top of Your Google Reviews
Responding to Google reviews helps you to:
• Stay on top of what customers are saying about your business online
• Make improvements where necessary
• Identify strengths to harness.
So claim your Google business listing, monitor your reviews, and respond appropriately!