Let’s not beat around the bush. With the market shares that the search engine has acquired, Google reviews have become essential. Whether you like it or not, they have a major impact on consumers’ buying decisions. But they are not easy to manage: difficult to respond to opinions in a methodical and constructive manner when they are caricatured or aggressive, for example. Rest assured, you are not alone! In this guide, we will see how to respond to reviews in the best way and how to adapt the response to the type of review left by the user. Good reading…
Before delving into how best to respond to customer reviews, it’s important to understand what tools Google makes available to you to manage those reviews.
Concretely, you have several options to respond to reviews:
- Go through the Google My Business application (available on iPhone and Android);
- Go through the Google My Business site;
- Go through Google;
- Go through Google Maps.
In this guide, we will use the simplest method: the Google My Business site.
Step 1: Log into your Google My Business account.
Step 2: Click on “Reviews” from the left menu.
Step 3: Click “Reply” below the reviews.
Subsequently, you can modify your answer if necessary by clicking on the 3 dots then on “Modify”.
Now that we have seen how to answer, let’s see the best practices to follow for good reply.
It might be tempting to ignore negative reviews and not respond to them.
But that would be a mistake because:
- A person who leaves an unfavorable review may well be convinced to review their review following a discussion with you;
- Your response will be readable by people who view the negative review and may convince them that you are a trustworthy company.
These two positive effects are measured in reality. A Cornell University study found that responses to negative reviews had a direct and positive impact on hotel bookings (source).
Some tips for responding to a negative review
Now let’s see how to respond to negative reviews the right way.
1. Take a step back
Let’s start with a simple tip: take a step back.
Some negative reviews can be hard to take, especially when they directly question your work.
Keep in mind when responding that your main goal is for the customer to change their review to your advantage. For this, we must be careful not to point it.
2. Respond publicly to the review
Public responses have two advantages:
- You show that you are not trying to hide and accept a public discussion;
- You show your customers and potential customers that you care about them and that you care about their feedback.
3. Seek to initiate a direct discussion with the customer.
While your first response to a negative review should always be on Google, this isn’t always the best place to start a conversation with your customers.
Indeed, Googlel does not offer a way to chat in private and in real time.
If you know that a negative review is going to take a long time to be rectified, you should make an effort to have a direct conversation with the customer by phone, email, or social media.
To do this, do not hesitate to ask that he contact you on an e-mail address.
4. Own your mistakes
No business is perfect and it is impossible to please everyone.
Most important is how you respond to these errors. It is this that determines how customers perceive your brand.
5. Ask questions when the details are unclear.
To respond effectively to reviews, feel free to ask questions and get more information from the customer. This will start a healthy dialogue that will help you diagnose the barrier the client is facing.
6. Show empathy and offer solutions.
Writing sweet answers is not enough. Customers who leave a review often wait for a solution or actions to alleviate or compensate for the problem they have encountered.
Here is an example of a response to avoid: the response appears to be based on a standard template and does not respond directly to customer reviews.
7. Take care of your spelling
According to an Ipsos study, 80% of French people say they are shocked when they encounter a spelling error in a company’s communication.
There is therefore no question of letting mistakes discredit your response to reviews. To make your comment successful, consider checking it with a spell checker.
8. Respond personally
Customers who leave a review need to be considered.
Consider personalizing your answers. To do this, you can:
- Call them by their first name or by their last name;
- Tailor your response in depth to their opinion;
- Sign your notice with your name and title.
Here is a counter example of what to do. Here, the manager of a sports club uses the first and last name displayed on Google, does not personalize his response and does not sign it. The answer seems to be based on a model and brings no added value to the customer.
3 Examples of good responses to negative reviews on Google
The response of a palace to a dissatisfied customer
We found this answer to a review on the page of Crillon, a Parisian palace.
The hotel’s response is perfect:
- The author of the opinion is thanked;
- The person apologizes for the bad experience of the client;
- The hotel offers to contact the person again to find out more and resolve the problem;
- The person who responded to the notice signed it with their full name and title.
Printemps’ response to an unhappy customer
We found this answer on the Printemps page.
Several elements are particularly relevant:
- The respondent mentions the client by name;
- She took the time to explore the problem encountered by the customer with one of the store employees;
- She scheduled a call with the reviewer to investigate the problem.
An Ibis hotel’s response to a dissatisfied customer
This answer is interesting because it is factual and detailed:
- The hotel manager subtly and factually points out that the author’s opinion is wrong;
- He nevertheless offers to make a gesture and invites the author of the notice to contact him to obtain a credit.
Fortunately, not all opinions are negative. If responding to negative reviews seems a necessity, what about positive reviews? Should we answer them systematically?
Responding to positive reviews offers two virtuous effects:
- He encourages the people who support you to encourage you even more;
- He encourages people who haven’t left a review yet to leave a positive review.
In short, responding to positive reviews helps build a positive dynamic.
1. Respond personally
Include the person’s name in your response.
An American study has shown that people are very sensitive to the mention of their first name (source, in English). As with negative reviews, responding with your first or last name shows that you really took the review into account.
2. Respond to the full review
Some positive reviews contain suggestions for improvement. Remember to take these suggestions into account in your response.
3. Show that you are grateful
Expressing gratitude to a customer who left you a great review shows that you not only pay attention to negative reviews, but also to customers who are happy with their experience.
4. Sign your message
Signing your response helps make the message more personal and rewarding for the reviewer.
Here’s a good example of a response to a positive message:
The author of the response mentions the name of the author of the review, she expresses gratitude and she directly dealt with the client in question.
Let’s be clear: As a business owner, it can be tempting to remove negative reviews from Google.
In this case, what is the procedure to follow?
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Google does not allow you to directly delete a comment. It provides a reporting option.
This option allows you to ask Google to delete a review in the following cases:
- Incitement to hatred or discrimination: if the notice harms a person or a group of individuals because of their identity;
- Spam: if the review was posted by a robot or a fictitious account, or contains advertisements and promotions;
- Rude content: if the review contains vulgar words or explicit language;
- Intimidation: if the notice personally attacks an individual;
- Off topic: if the notice does not concern a visit to your establishment or the use of your services;
- Conflict of Interest: Whether the review was written by someone who works or worked for you or a competitor.
In short, you can’t delete a review just because you don’t like it.
If you are indeed in one of the situations described above, here is the procedure to follow:
- In your Google My Business account, position yourself on the notice in question;
- Click on the three dots available to you at the top right.
- Fill out the form that appears
Here we are at the end of this guide. I hope he has convinced you that every Google review deserves a response, whether the review is positive or negative.
In all of your responses, remember to keep a warm, personal and professional tone.