How to respond to your Google reviews

Author: Victoria Csiga

The importance of Google reviews

Google is the number one search engine in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing website for customers to share their experiences with businesses.

Studies show:

  • that Google is the review site of choice as 64% of customers say they look up a certain business before deciding on purchasing from them.
  • 21% of customers agree that Google reviews are one of the most important factors they consider when searching for local businesses. Furthermore, they say that the nature of the reviews are more influential than prices, the location of the business or their performance in the search results.

Google noticed these trends too. The corporation specifically stated that reviews determine a business’ ranking in the search results.

Industry specialists believe too that reviews are one of the most influential factors of local SEO ranking.

Why you should respond to Google reviews?

Businesses need to  learn  how to properly respond  to their Google reviews  in order to make the most out of their Google presence (Google Maps and Google Search).

Replying to reviews – may they be on Google or any other platform – helps businesses to protect their online reputation and improve their performance.

The truth is that the way you handle your reviews says a lot more than the content of the review itself.

In case you haven’t read the study done by Cornell University, here are some important highlights:

  • the growth of your income is directly commensurate with the growth of your reviews
  • It will cost you a lot if you don’t respond to your reviews. Organizations that don’t acknowledge or reply to their customer feedback have low star-ratings and low quantities in reviews.
  • Responding to negative consumer feedback and critical reviews have a lot more benefits than only engaging with positive reviews.

Basically, if responding to reviews come with this many advantages for your business, imagine how important it really is for you to learn how to properly reply to your Google reviews.

How to respond to your Google reviews?

Where can I see my Google reviews?

Google reveiws can only be posted by Google users who need to log into their account before publishing a rating of your business. There reviews appear on numerous websites on the internet, such as in the search results of Google and on Maps.

You can monitor and manage them with your Google My Business account.

  • After logging in, click on the Reviews tab.
  • Here you will be able to see all your reviews, filter them by „replied” or „haven’t replied” categories.

Most likely you won’t be checking your Google My Business account all day everyday, so it’s pretty important to know that you will be notified every time a new review comes in. This notification contains information such as the name of the reviewer, the star-rating and a small portion of the review text itself as well as the link which takes you directly to the feedback.

Most Google My Business users receive these emails when a new review comes in, but for companies that have more than a 100 locations it is automatically turned off.

It would be more ideal for businesses like these to use a review management software, like Trustindex, that notify you of each and every new feedback, and provide the opportunity to respond to them directly from the dashboard.

How to respond to Google reviews

Monitoring and managing Google My Business reviews is a key part of handling your customer feedback, for this is the best way  to protect your brand reputation. If you haven’t done this so far, now is the time to start replying and communicating with your consumers, whether they are happy or unhappy.

When you want to respond to a review, first you need to log into your Google My Business account, select the location you want to manage and click on the Reviews tab.

Aftar that, you will be able to see every one of your reviews that were posted on that specific location, automatically organized by date. And from here you are able to reply to all your reviews.

Don’t forget that your responses will become public on Google and it must comply with all the guidelines. As soon as you send a reply you will have 5 minutes to make adjustments and edit it, correct any typos, etc.

Your customers receive notifications of your response

Google has an automatic notification feature for the customers as well, for when the review they posted gets a reply from the busienss. This notification contains a direct link to the response.

Theresponse becomes public immediately, but the customer only receives the notification of it after 5 minutes has passed. This 5 minute delay allows you to correct any errors you may have made, as stated before.

Best methods to use when responding

With all the reviews coming in it’s inevitable that your business receives negative ones too, at one point. But don’t lett hat discourage you. The way you handle negative feedback will determine whether your business can attract more customers.

Responding to negative reviews

It’s in your best interest to reply to the negative feedback.

Consider this:

  • 65% of consumers state that they are more likely to visit a busienss that replies to negative reviews
  • 80% of them say that by responding, a business shows that they care about their feedback, regardless of them being good or bad.

However, the main reason why you should respond to reviews is that it puts your business at an undeniable advantage compared to your competitors.

Surprisingly, 63% of consumers experienced getting no responses to their reviews from businesses. That is an enormous amount of customers that you can easily keep jsut by responding to them.

  1. Evaluate the feedback

The best route to take is assessing the situation before replying to the review right away. Your consumers have a lot of power online and responding to them mindlessly will more likely make them more upset.

It’s important that you don’t get emotional when replying to a negative review – have a ready-to-go, logicaal procedure you can follow in these instances.

  1. Answer publicly

By this we mean: don’t try to take the matter offline right away, instead respond to the customer publicly on the platform they used to post the review. Doesn’t matter which website, don’t avoid digital confrontation. Answering publicly shows your potential customers that you care about their feedback.

  1. Make sure it’s a 1:1 conversation

A Google review isn’t always the best place to hold customer service conversation. It’s not a real-time communication channel and you chances aren’t equal with the customer as other users can chime in under the original reveiw with their comments and likes.

If initially you can see that you will probably need more time and effort to make things right with the customer, the best thing you can do is try to work for a 1:1   conversation.

This doesn’t mean that you should sweep  things under  the rug or try to protect your online reputation by not adressing the issue publicly. It means putting your customer’s needs before yours thus you must choose the best platform gófor the communication. This is when you should utilize your customer service tools such as a phone call, live chat, emailing, etc. in order to solve the problem at hand more efficiently.

  1. Be transparent

Not one company is perfectly flawless and your customers will know that you too can make mistakes. Their needs, afterall, often come with unfulfullable conditions – it’s hard to please everyone. But the way that you handle these situations determines how customers will perceive your brand.

Honesty and transparency is the best course you can take. Your customers will know that you can’t be perfect but they expect that you take responsibility for mistakes, when they happen. This ensures customer rapport and builds a long-lasting, loyal consumer base.

  1. Ask questions when you need to

Your consumers aren’t getting paid for posting reviews to some of them only focus on giving you a negative rating instead of explaining the situation thoroughly.

You might often come across reviews like this, where it’s hard to pinpoint the root of the issue. If you want to respond efficiently, you need to ask questions and acquire more information from the customer. You can only provide a solution when the issue is identified.

  1. Be understanding and provide a solution

Even when you spend a lot of time composing the perfect response and apology, if you don’t provide them with a solution to their issue, you didn’t give the proper response to the negative review. Always offer a solution to make things right.

  1. Sign your name

It’s only a small detail but it will take you far. When you sign you name after all  your responses your customers will see that they are talking to a real person.

  1. Ask them to update the review

After posting your response to the review, be prepared to have a more detailed conversation with your customer. Discuss the situation, their experiences and try to be as specific as you can when identifying the source of the problem.

If you feel like your customer is satisfied with your replies, ask them kindly to update their original feedback. Since you managed to change their perspective, it is the perfect timet o ask them to update the negative review they initially gave.

Keep in mind that the review is still public and potential customers won’t read the whole conversation under the original post, so it’s best to ask them to update it if they would be sok ind to do so.

If you would like to see real-life examples of answering negative customer feedback perfectly, click here!

Learn from the professionals

However, you shouldn’t only reply to negative feedback. It is essential that you show gratitude towards the customers that wrote something nice an dpositive. It’s important in both instances that your response should be natural, not something that sounds like a copy and paste script.

Responding to positive reviews

Responding to your positive feedback is much simpler than handling the unhappy customers with the negative ones.

Most companies only reply to their feedback when they have to do some damage control for the business. However, positive reviews attract a lot of new, potential customers, so it’s essential that you handle them properly.

  1. Answer them quickly

You shouldn’t just sit back and relax when you receive positive feedback. Instead you need to reassure the customer’s feelings by responding to them quickly. This shows them how much you care about your customers’ experience and how greatly you appreciate their review.

  1. Acknowledge them

Before all, you have to greet  the customer by name  and not some generic „Dear Customer” or else it won’t sound genuine (unless they used some name that is clearly made up such as abc123). It has an attention grabbing effect on the human brain when one hears their name.

  1. Show your gratitude

You can’t expect appreciation when you’re not ready to give it. Showcasing your gratitude towards your customers demonstrates that you handle all your feedback with the same amount of appreciation.

  1. Encourage them

Positive reviews provide an opportunity for your happy customers to become your loyal advocates. When responding, ask them if they would be so kind to share their review with others, or if they would mind if you shared the review on your business’ other social medias. This is a very powerful marketing tool for acquiring more customers.

  1. Friendly farewell

Before you close the interaction, make sure you do so in a positive manner. Use you name when signing off and make your tone uplifting and keen. Afterall, you’re happy that your customer shared their wonderful experience with your business.

  1. Record the feedback

Customer reviews, whether they are negative or positive, serve as am learning opportunity for your company. Your team could learn as much from positive reviews as tehy can from the negative ones. It is important to record both types in order to improve the customer experience at your business.

Click here for real-life examples of giving the perfect response to positive reviews!

Every Google review means a new opportunity

Google reviews are not only the customers’ experiences with a certain product or service – they are a telling factor of your business’ performance.

Overly positive ratings and  reviews mean that the  present workflow is optimal, while negative feedback can uncover serious weak points within your business.

By responding  correctly to both type shows how deeply your business cares about each and every one of their customers’ experiences and feedback. Every reviews should be handled by the equal amount of importance for maximized brand awareness.

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