Google is the most used service when looking for local information. The Google review system is very well known and Google reviews are being read by many potential customers. Almost 90% of the people searching via Google do not only take a glance at the 5-star-review-scale and the feedback of other customers, but also read what the company writes as answers. Therefore, it is imperative that companies manage publicly availabe ratings for their own good.
This starts already with writing answers to reviews. Don’t ignore reviews, don’t take them for granted if they are positive, reply to them. This is important in regard to the online reputation management. Naturally, not every single comment has to be replied to. Especially short positive reviews like “Great burger, tasted great!” usually don’t need a comment from the companies side.
However, lengthy reviews, critical observations and especially negative comments warrant replies. This way you can signal to potential new customers that you care about your customers, take their criticism into account and are working hard to satisfy each and everyone who uses your service or buys your products.
Examples for the three main types of reviews:
Generate reviews, rank higher
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, a store receives 12% more reviews if it replies to reviews on Google. Additionally, the Google rating itself rises by 0.12 stars on average. The review score on Google is a highly important ranking factor, capable of making the difference between “small fish in a big pond” or “part of the Local Search Top 3”, the so called Local Pack.
Nowadays, whenever a user is using to Google to search his surroundings or for a specific place, only the three top ranked businesses will be shown. This in turn has significant impact on the decision making of the searcher. If he is presented with only 3 choices, which are declared to be the top results, he will have an easier time deciding for one of those businesses.
Furthermore, the incentive to add business to the comparison is rather low due to lower click rates and supposedly worse ratings of the business which are not shown directly. Let’s take a look at an example for the Local Pack:
Businesses do have some very good reasons to actively care for the reviews they get on Google. Yet not every reply is a good reply. One can go very wrong in regards to public reviews and the replies to them. To help you out with that, we are going to show you how to correctly reply to reviews on Google. Regardless of them being overwhelmingly positive, containing minor points of criticism or being littered with harsh feedback or even insults: there is a smart reaction to each of them.
The first steps:
How to reply to Google reviews your business receives
But hold up a second. Before we start with semantics, let’s have a look at a short guideline with the technical steps needed to be able to reply to Google reviews:
- Your business needs to be verified on Google My Business. More infos here.
- Open Google Maps.
- Enter the name of your business into the search field and finish the search with the enter key or by clicking the lens symbol.
- Scroll to the part that says “Reviews” and look for the review you want to reply to.
- Click on “Reply” next to the review.
How to be notified about new reviews
Google offers a notification system for new reviews. This can be managed via the Google My Business Console. However, notifications may come with a delay and if you have more than 10 different locations, you won’t get notified for each and every review.
Our product Targetbox offers a guaranteed email notification function for Google reviews.
Now that you are familiar with the technical way to reply to reviews, we are going to jump into the content part. Don’t forget: You can ask Google to delete insulting and obiously false reviews.
How to reply to positive reviews
Let us tackle positive, rather lengthy reviews first. First and foremost you should thank the customer for his positive feedback. Try to adress him by his name, even if his Google alias doesn’t appear to be a typical surname/lastname combination.
Next, try to focus on one or two concrete aspects of your customers review. Describe those as especially important for you business and that you are happy to hear the appreciation of it. Additionally you can give the customer some useful information. If he praises the pineapple pizza, tell him that he can ask the kitchen for more pineapple on it the next time he is around.
Here we have a reply in the style described before:
We notice that the reply would look even better if it started with adressing the customer by his or her name and if the spelling was correct. Make sure to always read through your replies before you post them.
- Adress the customer by name
- Thank the customer for positively mentioning specific aspects
- Offer additional information
How to reply to positive, yet critical reviews
We continue our guide with the correct way to reply to positive reviews which are mixed with some critique.
Remember to adress the customer by name and thank him or her for the review. Continue by catering to the points of critique to show that you value your customers’ opinions.
If you have already identified the cause for the critique, mention it. Just make sure that this applies to issues which may arise naturally, nothing severe, and emphasize the isolated nature of the incident. To swing this into a positive direction, you can invite the customer to vist you again in order to convince himself of the changes.
In regards to fundamental criticism you can always ask the customer to contact you directly. This signals that you not only listen to the opinion of your customers but are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy everyone. Potential new customers who read through the reviews and replies instantly get a good impression.
Here we have to more examples of reviews and the replies to them:
Our bullet points:
- Adress the customer by name
- Thank him/her for the praise and the criticism
- Express your regret about the partially negative experience
- Explain the cause (if it is an exception to the rule)
- Highlight, that it is an exception or that the issue is already fixed
- If needed, name your contact details (phone/email) for the customer to contact you again
How to reply to negative reviews
Last but not least we take a look at negative, potentially harmful reviews and how to reply to them. In these cases it is of utmost importance to remain polite and appear resolute, even when faced with unfair criticism.
As we already stated, start by adressing the customer by name. Express your regret over the seemingly unsatisfactory experience the customer has had. After that you should grab specific points of criticism out of the review. Maybe you already have a good explanation for some. This is especially useful when the criticism is rather superficial (e.g. “We had to wait a long time on our food”) and you are able to correct the appearance and exude competence.
If something has really gone wrong, state that the problem is fixed and in specific cases you may also offer a compensation.
You can also ask for feedback on how to improve and offer the personal contact to resolve the issue for good. Don’t forget to name your phone number or email adress in this case. Always stay factual and ignore emotional, offensive comments. This shows potential customers who read the reviews that you prefer polite, direct contact and act professionally.
Finally, we have two examplary replies to negative reviews:
Our bullet points:
- Adress the customer by name
- Express your regret about the negative experience/thank him/her for the criticism
- Take on the points of critique in a polite but resolute way
- Name solutions to issues, highlight implemented fixes
- Offer further, private contact
- Invite the customer to convince himself/herself of the changes
How do I reply when the customer does a follow-up on my contact offer?
If a customer decides to take your offer and contacts you per mail or phone, you should try to change irritation into positive resonance. Listen to his criticism, tell him about the fixes to the issue and invite him to give your business a second chance and to convince himself/herself of your quality. Here is how such an email may look:
Let’s sum it up: Adressing your customers by name should be a given. Take up the portrayed experience and the criticism. Signal the customer that the issues have been solved, feedback is always welcome and that negative experiences are taken serious, too. Don’t forget to offer further, private contact in the latter cases.
Show your commitment with a friendly, open behaviour. Potential customers who haven’t decided yet may choose your business based on the way you handle Google reviews. And customers who haven’t been wholly satisfied may give you a second chance because they feel their criticism is heard and acted upon.
Use reviews on Google to increase your presence, recruit new customers and convert those into existing customers. In order to receive feedback faster and easier and to make positive experiences appear publicly, we recommend asking for reviews early – via mail, handouts or QR-Codes.