Responding to Google Reviews — The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Responding to Google Reviews — The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Responding to Google Reviews - Web and BeyondWhile the first phase of Google review traffic success is getting them, taking your Google review strategy to the next level is most certainly responding to Google reviews. Setting and managing buyers’ expectations is tough when you control little about the platform on which such opinions rest. This is why we discussed our strategy for getting (mostly good) Google reviews. So, if you haven’t read about this yet, I suggest you read that first and then continue on here to learn how effectively responding to Google reviews can be profitable (and mostly painless) for Small Business.

Many business owners don’t know, but you can read and reply to Google reviews. Google gives you this ability from the Google My Business dashboard, and you should use this powerful feature.

Responding to Google Reviews — The Good

The best responses to Google reviews for most Small Business owners are the good ones (three stars or more, in my book). I’m not going to lie; they’re nice to receive, look at, and bask in all your Small Business greatness and glory. The tactic of primary importance here is that you show appreciation. While most business owners don’t see it this way, you add value when you thank reviewers for leaving a good Google review. If you didn’t prompt them to leave the review, these are the people you should thank publicly. Then, move on. Don’t offer a discount. Don’t lavish them with praise. Simply thank them for their kind gesture, and wish them well.

And, if you start to get hundreds of good Google reviews per week, thank every 100th and move on. These reviews are seen by everyone and not everyone at that volume needs a thank-you.

Responding to Google Reviews — The Bad

Now comes the most challenging of all responding to Google reviews—the bad ones (of two stars or less). Why are these the most challenging? Business owners avoid facing reality, asking unhappy customers what made their experience bad, and doing the hard work to fix it.

Good business owners will overcome these challenges. And, I’m here to confess that sometimes these challenges are gnarly. Some, you may have to cut your losses and not fix. But, here are my thoughts about how to deal with responding to Google reviews gone bad.

Publicly acknowledge the reviewer with an apology that they had a poor experience with your company. This isn’t a time to be defensive, since you’re apologizing that their opinion of you is bad, not culpability for first degree murder. Your task is to review the text of what the reviewer wrote to see if you have sufficient information to understand why a reasonable consumer would feel this way, and if you should make it right. When you determine it legitimate, let the reviewer know that you’d like to make it right.

If, on the other hand, the reviewer didn’t provide enough details, in the reply to him or her ask them to reach out to you (perhaps via that same dedicated customer service email address we discussed in “Getting Mostly Good Google Reviews”). Once offline, turn that frown upside down! Within law and reason, help that unhappy customer become a raving fan. Once you’ve done so, ask them to re-review your business on Google. If you’ve done well, in my experience with my clients’ businesses, no reasonable customer won’t edit their Google review to four or five stars.

Handling bad Google reviews is challenging because it takes facing that you have a customer service problem, may have to correct your staff, or realize that there’s some major defect in your operations, product manufacturing, or otherwise. But, if you learn this and fix it, your business is better for it and more resilient through economic downturns. I consider bad reviews a proper service to Small Business owners everywhere.

Responding to Google Reviews — The Ugly

Lastly is actually one of the easiest Google reviews to manage, because they require very little effort. It’s one that probably frightens you. The ugly Google reviews are those that are always one-star and long, sometimes cogent and sometimes rambling prose about how you wronged them.

They hate your business. They’ll never do business there again. You suck. Your staff sucks. Your product or service sucks. And, your logo sucks, too! Hate spews from every orifice of these ugly reviews. There are many exclamation points, question marks, and ellipses.

And, you cringe. You’re a normal, decent human being. And, who wouldn’t cringe at that?

So, what’s a business owner to do? Nothing.

Yes, you heard me right. Absolutely nothing. Ignore that garbage and move on. This is known as “flaring” and it’s similar to if a child has a meltdown on their mother or father in a shopping mall. It gives you pause, and then you realize it’s a child throwing a temper tantrum so you continue on your merry way. Flaring doesn’t deserve your energy, because these are not happy people. And, they won’t ever be happy customers. And, everyone around your business will recognize flaring when they see it.

The only time someone like this should be responded to, is at the request of your legal counsel. If they have stated your business has committed a crime or extraordinary wrongdoing, they’re harassing you or your staff, or posting this not once but everyone they can find a spot to do so on the Web, I’d communicate this to your legal counsel in order to determine the best course of business and legal action.

Responding to Google reviews can seem daunting at first. But, after you know this rubric for how to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly, you start to be able to plow through Google reviews.

Good reviews get simple, plain gratitude. Bad reviews get attention on the unhappy customer and on your operations, product or service to improve for the future. And, ugly reviews get ignored.

None of these are easy, and some of this is downright tedious. But, after starting to manage Google reviews well, my clients tend to see more and better Google reviews from their proper handling. And, I hope you do, too!

Getting (Mostly Good) Google Reviews

Getting (Mostly Good) Google Reviews

Getting Mostly Good Google Reviews - Web and BeyondGoogle commands nearly 80% of Web and 90% of mobile search traffic on the planet. With global search leaders such as Yahoo, Bing (Microsoft), and Baidu (in China) still commanding between 5 and 15 percent each, they are forces not to be ignored, but we know the clear winner of this battle in the war for consumers’ attention. People google things. And, they’re googling your business’ products or services to see Google reviews.

So Google has decided that these local reviews of your products or services are important to the decision-making process for consumers. And, if the search juggernaut thinks this is important, it’s best to take advantage of the opportunity that Google’s review platform provides (which is built within Google Maps and is managed with the Google My Business dashboard).

Often, local businesses don’t understand how to gain traction with Google reviews. Or, they don’t understand Google’s review policy. So, here I’d like to outline how to take your business to the next level with getting (mostly good) Google reviews.

Note: If you have a bad product, service, location, staff or customer service, this methodology won’t help you, unless you decide to fix these management/operations issues. I can’t also help you remove Google reviews. If the problem is deeper than that and not working, I’d head over to the Google My Business community to learn how to handle spam, fraudulent, and other wrongful review issues.

Get Your Google My Business Listing Completed Fully | Getting Google Reviews

To start, get your business listing claimed and verified. Not everyone can have a business listing on Google My Business; I don’t make the rules, but you do need to follow them. You will need a Google account (or G Suite account), so create one or sign in using yours to Google My Business, then follow the “get your business listing claimed and verified” support article. While you can do this on a mobile device, I recommend doing so from your desktop Web browser so you have all functionality available to you.

Set Your Review Capture System Up | Getting Google Reviews

Now that you have your business listing claimed and verified, you can watching the Google reviews pour in, right? Uhm, no. Sorry. There’s still quite a bit of work ahead. But, that’s an important milestone on your way to getting (mostly good) Google reviews! To really start getting the reviews flowing, follow my three-step process for soliciting and capturing customers’ reviews on Google.

Step One

Get your Google Review link. I don’t know them, but (for creating such a great tool and being Canadian, I can’t help but think they’re good and nice people) the folks over at White Spark agency have provided the free Google Review Link Generator.

Step Two

Create a special customer service email address that is handled by someone dedicated to handling negative feedback, preferably you or someone high enough to make substantive, timely decisions and actions to turn unsatisfied customers into raving brand advocates.

A happy customer who buys and leaves your business and says nothing about you to anyone is of no really value in the world of reviews. An unhappy customer that you’ve helped fix their issue is one that will tell many more people about his or her experience and has a great value to you for review purposes! Seize opportunities of unhappy customers turned happy ones, and the meat of how to do this is in Step Three.

Step Three

Send your customers either upon purchase, delivery or at their highest satisfaction peak in your relationship, a review request. Turn this into a system that is executed precisely and consistently throughout your business operations.

This review request communication will read something like this:

Hi, [Customer’s Name],

We appreciate your business! As part of our process to continually make good on our [product/service] and our customer service promises, we would really appreciate your feedback. This also helps new customers evaluate our [product/service/business] and helps us grow our business to continue living up to our standards. Could you take a few minutes to review us?

Yes, I love our [product/service]!              No, I had a bad experience.

Thank you,


[Business Name]

Now, the “Yes, I love your [product/service]!” is hyperlinked to your Google Review link that you generated in Step One. And, your “No, I had a bad experience.” link is to your special customer service email address. Mostly good reviews go to Google, while bad feedback primarily gets sent to someone who can deal with it.

Your responsibility is now to handle the negative feedback with “white glove” treatment. That’s a topic we cover in our next blog post. But, it is imperative to solicit these Google reviews well and consistently. Train your staff (and yourself ) to identify appropriate times and places for asking for Google reviews from your clients, including but not limited to:

  • by email,
  • printed on receipts,
  • by phone,
  • In-person, or
  • on your website after purchase.

Once you’ve managed to get this three-step process in place and tweaked it so that you can see it working consistently in your business, you will start to reap the rewards of mostly good Google reviews while having a pipeline of new reviews coming in regular. And, in doing so, hopefully that will start to bring meaningful, profitable traffic to your Google My business listing and to your business.