How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

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If you had it your way, every online review your business receives would be positive. 

While everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, negative reviews are bound to trickle in.  As a small business owner, you may get upset. You might get angry – and you likely will get a bit defensive. It’s understandable.

While they certainly may seem like a nuisance, the reality is this: a bad review really isn’t the end of the world!

As long as you learn from your mistakes, you can take constructive steps forward. Here’s how you can minimize the damage to your company’s credibility after a customer writes a poor review of your business.

Timing is everything.

When you see a bad review about your company, the first thing you should do is stop, take a breath and work on drafting a response. Whether you completely disagree entirely or happen to see a bit of truth in the matter, it’s important that you respond quickly to the comments that have been made.

How quickly exactly? Within a 24 hour timeframe would be ideal.

Swift action shows other readers that you care and that you are committed to prompt customer service.

Make it come from the heart.

Have you ever had someone apologize to you – but it really didn’t seem like they were truly sorry for what they did? Responding to customer reviews can walk this same fine line. As a result – whatever you do – don’t give a generic response that sounds robotic.  

Use this proven formula:

Opening statement: Acknowledge the situation, take responsibility and sympathize with the customer.

Middle statement: Explain what your customers usually experience or should have experienced in this specific scenario. 

Closing statement: Avoid cookie-cutter closing statements. Be as specific as you can and make the situation right by communicating any changes or improvements you have made since this error took place. Also, don’t be scared to continue the discussion offline by asking the customer to contact you by phone or to stop by your establishment.  

When you apply the formula above, make sure you hit the mark by being friendly, concise and offering a cooperative tone. No matter how angry you are, showing signs of aggression or being defensive about the situation will only make things worse.

See the good in the bad.

When you get a bad review, take this opportunity to gather insight about what your company might be doing wrong. (Remember that there is always room for improvement).

While the potential impact that a negative review can be scary, the reality is this: studies show that consumers are actually more likely to trust a business with a rating less than perfect.  Why? Because they find it more authentic over a business that has an overwhelming amount of 5 stars across the board. Who knew?

Make sure you treat every bad review as a learning opportunity. Don’t forget to go that extra mile. In the end, it will help show that you truly care about the situation and your customers’ happiness. 

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