Reputation ManagementPerson responding to their negative Google reviews.

If you’ve ever had to leave a bad review, you know that a lot of business owners just don’t know how to respond to negative Google reviews. More and more, customers are relying on Google – as well as Yelp, Amazon, and Facebook – to tell them about past customer experiences. And, while they can be heartbreaking, negative reviews aren’t the end of the world.

When your company’s reputation is at stake, you need to stay calm. Yes, customers expect you to respond to negative reviews. But, they don’t expect you to be argumentative, insulting, or hostile. When you see a bad review, the best thing you can do is step back, take a breather, and consider your reply.

More than anything, customers want to see that you’re committed to resolving complaints. Shifting blame, making accusations, and attempting to absolve yourself aren’t helpful. Those actions don’t fix the problem. Customers aren’t interested in your ego. They want to see you correct the problem so that they know you’ll do the same for them.

And that’s the core of it: responding to negative Google reviews isn’t for the person who left the review, it’s for the potential customers who are reading it.

1. Respond quickly to bad reviews

If a customer expresses dissatisfaction with your company in person, you do everything you can – immediately – to correct the issue. Receiving a negative review on Google should be no different. In most cases, you’ll want to post a response to bad reviews within two business days.

When customers browse your online reviews, it doesn’t matter if you have great in-person customer service. It doesn’t matter if your website is beautifully designed. All that matters is that your reviews paint a good picture. And, while you can’t erase negative reviews, you should make an effort to turn them into positive interactions.

A timely, thoughtful response to a negative review can actually be a net positive for your online presence. Potential customers like to see effort, they like to know that you will go the extra mile to quickly address bad experiences and turn them into good ones.

2. Accept responsibility for negative Google reviews

First and foremost: customers don’t want excuses. If you’ve gotten a bad review and it’s put you into a defensive state of mind, take a step back. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think about the last time you had a negative experience. Did you want a laundry list of justifications?

No, you wanted your hardships to be acknowledged. You wanted a solution. And that’s exactly what your customers want. But, before you try to solve the problem, you need to recognize it. You need to accept responsibility for your role in the experience.

Now isn’t the time to point fingers, assign fault, or push blame onto your staff. Instead, recognize the customer’s complaints, apologize for them, and start a conversation. What could you have done better? What could have led to a better experience? How can this be resolved? Get your reviewer talking about what happened and how you can make things right.

3. Find a satisfying resolution to negative Google reviews

When you start a conversation with a dissatisfied customer, your number one priority should be finding a resolution. Your website’s reviews are linked to its listings in local business directories, including Yelp, Google, and Facebook. And, as a way to build confidence in your business, the reviews that these listings offer are unparalleled.

But, you don’t just need a pile of five-star reviews! You need to use your reviews to show potential customers that you’re a company they can trust. The best way to do this is by finding resolutions to your negative Google reviews.

Before you type a single character, ask yourself, ‘How can I phrase this reply in a way that shows everyone that I’m trying to make things right?’ When you strive for resolutions, you show your potential customers that there’s no downside to doing business with you. If everything goes right, well, that’s great! And, if things go poorly, you’ve shown them that you’ll make it right. At that point, doing business with you is a no-brainer.

4. Thank the reviewer for their feedback and go the extra mile

Once you’ve found a positive way to resolve the situation, it’s time to put on your PR pants. When you’re responding to bad Google reviews, you’re not just doing it for the reviewer. This is your chance to put your best foot forward. A genuine thank you can inspire customers to go to great lengths to work with you.

This is where you show the people reading reviews that you’re a company they want to work with. After the dust has settled, the best thing you can do is offer a sincere thanks for the review and an incentive for the customer to return. You could offer a free meal in your restaurant, upgraded shipping on their next order, or a coupon for your ecommerce store. Whatever you do, make it genuine, make it bold, and make it impactful.

Need help crafting thoughtful responses to negative Google reviews?

At Creative Marketing Group, we understand how heartbreaking it can be to receive a negative review online. Working with hundreds of small businesses in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and throughout Southwest Michigan, we’ve heard all of the horror stories. But, we also know that a lot of good can come from bad reviews.

So, if you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of a dissatisfied customer, don’t panic! You have options. Whether you choose to handle the review yourself or you reach out to us for assistance managing your reviews, just remember to stay calm, stay cool, and stay kind. And, of course, if you do decide that you want help managing your reviews, be sure to look at our comprehensive packages designed to maintain your online presence.