90% of customers say they consider online reviews before buying from a business. And unsurprisingly, positive reviews lead to more sales, while negative reviews can drive customers away.
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to manage customer feedback and respond appropriately to complaints. But how do you respond to a negative Google review the right way?
Here’s how to deal with negative Google reviews while preserving your customer base.
First, Handle Any Tough Emotions
Like most business owners and managers, you’re likely passionate about the work you do. So when someone criticizes your business, staff, or product, it’s hard to not take it personally.
Reading a negative online review can trigger a lot of difficult emotions, from embarrassment to anger. But no matter what, do not respond to reviews while you’re upset.
Take time to process the review and gather yourself before moving forward.
Look for Patterns
When you’re ready to face the content of the negative review, start by looking for patterns. Have you received similar reviews before? Are customers repeating the same complaints or mentioning similar issues?
If so, it’s time to focus on these patterns in order to fix them.
Check if customers tend to have negative experiences around the same time of day or if they seem to relate to one specific person on your team. If you’re not sure, consider playing the role of customer in your own shop or restaurant for a day, or consider hiring an undercover customer to look for customer service issues.
Finding problem areas and their causes is key to improving customer experience and recovering from negative online reviews.
Discuss With Your Team
Before responding directly to the Google review, check in with your team about your thoughts and any changes that need to be made.
If you found that reviews were related to one specific employee, have a private meeting with them to discuss the issue.
But if the complaint was related to a larger work process, the product, or another general issue, have a meeting with your entire team to talk about possible solutions. Sometimes, your employees can see solutions, as well as barriers, that you don’t easily catch as their manager. Listen to their observations, and encourage constructive problem-solving together, without blaming or pointing the finger.
Respond Publicly Online
After you’ve identified problem areas and discussed solutions with your team, it’s time to respond directly to the Google review.
Here’s how to respond to negative reviews on Google the right way:
- thank the reviewer for their feedback
- apologize and show empathy
- validate their concern
- avoid excuses
- share how you plan to solve this issue going forward
- invite them to contact you personally
Skipping any of these points may lead to a response that sounds careless or unprofessional. Even if you don’t agree with the reviewer, it’s important to take responsibility and do as much as you can to resolve the complaint.
That starts with thanking the reviewer for their feedback, showing that you appreciate their thoughts and intend to use them to improve.
Then, offer a sincere apology. Stick to “I’m sorry” rather than “I apologize,” which sounds colder and less genuine. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how the experience affected their whole day or even week.
Then, validate their concern. This doesn’t mean you must agree with it, but you should show that you’re paying attention and listening. For example, you can say, “I understand and acknowledge your concerns about our shop’s cleanliness.” Avoid following this up with an excuse or any form of defensiveness.
Finally, express how you plan to make changes based on their review, and invite the customer to email or call you personally. If they do, use the conversation to find a solution that benefits both parties, such as offering them a discount or other incentive.
Remove Fraudulent Reviews
Some reviews are so bad, you might wish you could just make them disappear. But can you remove negative Google reviews?
In some cases, yes.
If a review is from a fraudulent reviewer, claiming to have used your business when they didn’t, it can be removed by Google. Sometimes, competitors may leave reviews about your business in order to drive up sales at theirs. Other times, a mistaken customer might leave a bad review for your business, mixing it up with another similar one.
If you suspect a review is fraudulent or incorrect, flag it for Google to review. Then, reach out to Google support to ensure the review gets taken down.
Generate Positive Press
When your attempts at damage control aren’t enough, try generating positive online press for your business in other ways.
You can reach out to local radio stations, newspapers, and magazines, inquiring about a possible writeup. Or you can partner with other small businesses in your area for a newsworthy event or campaign.
You can also use services like Netreputation.com that will create positive content for your business to help drown out negative feedback. Check out Netreputation.com reviews for more information.
Prevent Negative Google Reviews From Ever Happening
The best way to avoid ever dealing with negative Google reviews is to improve your product and customer service.
Go back to the drawing board, and review your product, pricing, and sales strategies to make sure they fit your target audience’s needs.
Then, revisit your customer service training—and if you don’t yet have customer service training, now is the time to start!
Even if negative Google reviews hurt, they’re important for your business. Without them, you may not see the areas that need to be updated and improved.
Respond to Negative Reviews the Right Way
Almost every business will receive negative Google reviews at some point, but how you respond can make all the difference.
Respond professionally with these tips, and be sure to listen carefully to customer feedback. That way, you can improve and grow your business while keeping your customers happy.
For more business advice, check out our latest business articles!