How to respond to positive and negative Google reviews so you always ‘win’

Stats say that up to 90% of customers read online reviews before approaching a business. As the world’s most popular search engine, it’s safe to assume that your potential customers will be reading your Google reviews.

The reviews you have definitely impact your online reputation and new business opportunities. A study by BrightLocal identified that 85% of customers take online reviews as seriously as they would personal recommendations. So, it is key to respond well to the reviews your customers leave you.

How can online reviews help you?

Studies show that the more you respond to online reviews, the more ratings you accumulate. This means that you have a stronger online presence and reputation. It’s a critical component of a small business marketing plan.  Responding to reviews gives you the opportunity to influence your reputation in a way that reflects your company’s values.

Reviews also give you an honest idea of the problems that your customers are facing. This helps you streamline processes and improve your product or service. You don’t necessarily have to write a long message as a response, just a few sincere lines are sufficient to turn a bad review around or to appreciate a good one.

Responding to negative reviews

There are bound to be some negative reviews but rather than make you anxious, think of them as a way to improve. Research indicates that customers are more likely to visit if you respond to bad reviews as well as good. A few things to keep in mind while responding to negative reviews are:

  1. Think your answers through: Some negative reviews may give you constructive criticism and others may just be rude. The way you respond will reflect on your company and so, you should take the time to pause and assess the situation before you answer. Never reply when upset.

Potential customers are more likely to take another customer’s word for it unless you give them a reason to think otherwise. Respond respectfully and aim at finding a solution to their complaint. 96% of the time when you resolve a problem for them, customers will continue to do business with you.

  1. Respond publicly: When you respond publicly, you are sending your customer base a message that you care about their feedback and take them seriously. Once you respond publicly, you can send them a private message to take the conversation forward.
  2. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes: Anyone can make a mistake and errors are bound to happen as you grow. Your customers will judge you based on the way you react. Admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility to fix the issue indicates transparency and helps you build trust with your customers. It shows that the company doesn’t just care about the numbers but is genuinely interested in providing a good service.
  3. Clarify vague reviews: Customers often leave negative reviews that are vague. Before you offer a solution, ensure that you are clear on what the problem is. To start a productive dialogue, politely ask for the details of the situation. This will show your other customers that you are invested in helping them find a solution.
  4. Genuine response: Customers can easily tell the difference between an airy response that offers nothing actionable and one that is genuine. Even if you’re just writing out a few lines, make them count. Signing your name at the end of your response reminds customers that they’re talking to a person and not generic ‘customer care’. This little touch furthers the feeling that you are sincerely interested in solving their problem.

Responding to a negative review is just the beginning of a longer conversation with your customer. Pin down the problem and resolve it the best you can. Once you think that the issue is closed, ask if they would update their original review. It is not likely that new customers will have the patience to read through a whole thread of responses and a favourable report from the original reviewer will be more convincing.

Responding to positive reviews

Many companies make the mistake of paying attention to those customers who make a big noise but overlook those who are polite and happy with their service. But it is important to acknowledge them as well. Respond to their appreciation with gratitude and let them know that you value their loyalty. Other points to keep in mind while responding to positive reviews are:

1.Address them by name: Studies show that addressing someone by name (rather than just a ‘hey there’) gets their attention better. For reasons discussed earlier, you should also sign off with your own name.

2.Say more than just ‘thank you’: All brands are likely to say thank you and leave it at that. To make your response stand out, offer more value to the customer. Give them a reason to return and re-use your product or service. It could be giving them a sneak peek into products that are about to be launched or inviting them to a special event.

  1. Ask them to spread the word: A positive review gives you a great opportunity to ask your customer to spread the word by posting the review on their social media pages. Word of mouth advertising is one of the oldest and best.

Building and running a business is a lot of hard work and it’s important to have all your bases covered. It’s nearly impossible to do it all yourself so don’t be apprehensive when delegating many work duties to other people. Day to day management of the business, saying up to date on the latest business apps, keeping supplier and business insurance payments regular, and other business functions can be given to others. But responding to reviews should be a job you do, to ensure the tone is right, and that you use this opportunity to create the best outcomes. One sarcastic or poorly-thought-out response could mean you’re in trouble; to avoid this, do it yourself. Be polite at all times and turn all your reviews into positive growth strategies.

Actively contact your customers to leave reviews

It’s very easy to send a link for customers to leave a Google review. This is a great proactive way of increasing your reviews.

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