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How to Find and Reply to Google Reviews

Embrace the power of Google Reviews as a valuable feedback channel, leverage your reviews to continually improve your business, and provide stellar customer service.

Do I Need to Reply to Google Reviews?

Yes. Reviews, and how you respond to them, are a critical element in a reader’s initial impression of your brand. 

  • 46 % of customers report trusting review content as much as a personal recommendation, down from 49% in 2021. Source: 2023 BrightLocal Consumer Review Study
  • 98% of consumers used the Internet to find information about local businesses in 2022, up from 90% in 2019. Source: 2023 BrightLocal Consumer Review Study
  • The number of users utilizing Google Reviews to research local businesses rose from 63% in 2020 to 81% in 2021, and then to 87% in 2022. Source: 2023 BrightLocal Consumer Review Study
  • In 2016, GetFiveStars found that 15.6% of consumers expected a reply within 1–3 hours, and 68.3% expected a reply within 1–3 days of leaving a review.

Remember, reviews and your responses to those reviews are public. Your responses can make or break a user’s perception of your brand, and should always be courteous and helpful. 

Locating Your Google Reviews

Locating your Google Reviews is easy. 

  • When logged in to the account associated with your Google Business Profile, search for your business name to access your listing
  • In your dashboard click on “Read Reviews”
  • From here, you can read, reply to, share, and report reviews as needed
  • Reviews can be sorted by relevance, age, or star rating in ascending or descending order

Responding to Positive Google Reviews

It may seem simple, thank someone for their positive review and move on with your day, right? Sure, but you can do better. While a quick thank you is a perfectly acceptable way to respond to a positive review, it also leaves a lot on the table. Show your customers that you value them and appreciate the time they took to share their experience with your brand by crafting a genuine response to their positive reviews. This not only encourages brand loyalty but also looks great to readers who may be on the fence about hiring your company. Why not show them that you go the extra mile?  

The first thing you need to do is have a plan. Consistency in tone, voice, and even review response length helps show people that your brand has a cohesive and consistent voice, no matter who they engage with. Be sure to thank them for taking the time to share their experience, and if appropriate, mention a unique detail from their review in your response to show that you’re paying attention and that a real person is responding to their review. Let them know that you look forward to seeing them again in the future and are available if they need anything else.

Responding to Negative Google Reviews

Just like positive reviews, before you ever touch a keyboard to craft a response to a negative review, you need a plan. How does your brand handle negative reviews? Is the negative review legitimate? Who responds? How do you handle complaints? Make sure whoever is responding to reviews has the authority to act quickly to offer a resolution if necessary. Can they offer a discount or a free service?

No one wants to receive negative reviews, but getting a negative review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, they can actually help your brand if approached appropriately:

  • How you respond to a negative review makes a big difference. SHOW your audience what you do when someone is unhappy about an experience with your brand. This not only shows that you care, but it also helps set an expectation for them if they need your assistance when working with you in the future.
  • Research shows that a few negative reviews lend credibility to a business with a review profile that is primarily positive. We can’t all be perfect all the time, and users understand this. In fact, readers tend to be wary of brands that only have 5-star reviews. According to a study by PowerReviews and Northwestern, data showed an average rating between 4.2 and 4.5 stars is more effective and realistic compared to a perfect 5.

How to Write a Great Review Response

Respond to every review. Responding to positive reviews further promotes a customer’s positive experience with your brand. Responding to negative reviews provides you with an opportunity to resolve a customer’s problem and maybe even salvage the relationship. At a minimum, it shows other potential customers who are reading the review that you take all customer feedback seriously, and that you strive to ensure every customer has a positive experience with your brand.

Review Responses – What to Do

Say Thank You -Let the customer (and your audience) know you appreciate that they’ve taken the time to share their experience, whether the review is positive or negative. 

Use Their Name -When possible, use the reviewer’s name in your response. This helps create a personal connection and shows them that you’re not just pasting a canned response to their review. 

Review Internally -Get pertinent information from your internal team before posting a public response if any background is needed. If a review is negative, background is needed.

Craft Your Brand Voice -And use it! Be genuine and authentic in your responses, using a consistent brand voice. This not only instills trust in readers but also helps them see your brand’s unique personality.

Create a Review Response Outline -And use it! This will help to ensure all important information is included.

Report Irrelevant Reviews -If the review is spam,  or not relevant to your brand, attempt to get it removed.

Always Respond -Respond directlyy to the Google Review as quickly as possible.

Move Negativity Offline -If you get a negative review, attempt to move the conversation offline by providing a contact name and direct phone or email contact information for someone in the company who has the authority to resolve a potential issue.

Be Transparent -No one is perfect. It’s okay (and often appreciated) to admit fault and take ownership of mistakes. This is an excellent opportunity to salvage a relationship and build trust with your customer and anyone else reading the review.

Be Accountable -Do what you say you’re going to do and fix the problem.

Follow-Up -Request an update and proactively follow up with the customer to ensure things are resolved to their satisfaction.

Review Responses – What Not to Do

Don’t Copy & Paste -This is lazy and appears disingenuous. It’s also incredibly obvious to readers who are researching your brand. Craft a unique, genuine response to every review you receive. 

Don’t Point Fingers -This rarely goes well, and pointing blame is not a good look on anyone. Own your mistakes, and don’t directly point out mistakes made by your customers.

Don’t Panic -Really, you’ve got this. There is rarely an issue highlighted in a review that is so bad that it ruins a brand. If this happens, you’ve got far bigger problems than the contents of a single review.

Don’t Argue -It won’t get you anywhere other than screenshots that might be used against you later. If a back-and-forth conversation is needed, take it offline by offering direct contact information for a decision-maker within your initial response.

Don’t Ignore -Sticking your head in the sand will not make your problem, or an unhappy customer, go away.

Don’t Drag it Out -Like arguing, back-and-forth responses get boring (or worse, create exciting drama) for readers quickly. Provide a swift response with an acceptable resolution for the best possible outcome.

Don’t Get Mad -Anger will not serve you well with an already upset customer. Take a deep breath, be the bigger person, and meet them with the kindness and consideration you want your customers to see from your brand.

Don’t Post Fake Reviews -Ever. Whether it’s a positive review in an attempt to cancel bad reviews out, a generic review to boost your count, or any other fake review for any reason. Don’t do it.

No, Really -Don’t ever post a fake positive review. For any reason. Ever.

Encouraging Great Google Reviews

One of the best ways to ensure a strong review profile is to continue to get reviews on a consistent basis. Some of the benefits of a healthy review profile include increased leads, social proof, customer service opportunities, and increased customer loyalty and engagement, to name a few. The easiest way to encourage great reviews is to provide a better-than-average experience for your customers. Do a little better than the competition for great results. Go above and beyond, and people will absolutely notice, and they’ll repay your efforts with recommendations and great feedback. 

 

When a customer has a great experience with your brand, don’t be afraid to ask them to share that experience. Make it as easy as possible by providing them with a direct link to your profile. Remember, incentivizing customers for reviews is against Google’s guidelines, so don’t ever offer anything in exchange for their feedback, aside from your appreciation.

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Erin Jones

Erin has been working in digital marketing since 2005 and has specialized in social media and brand reputation since 2010. Erin is passionate about community and loves assisting brands in finding their place in the social and local spaces.

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