How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

For modern businesses, negative Google reviews can feel like their make or break – but how you respond and manage bad reviews, determines the potential impact.

It is vital to have a review strategy in place, so let’s look at what marketing tactics you can use to manage any negativity that comes your way, and how to handle reviews without the stress factor.

The Power of the Google Review

Customer feedback is massively valuable and can help us improve our businesses, products, services, and client experience across the board.

Managing reviews, being proactive about requesting feedback, and taking the time to address any adverse ratings is crucial! Taking the initiative is all about reputation management, so ignoring bad feedback can only stand to make things worse, or reinforce the validity of the review for prospective new clients. If you assume your customers are happy – and they aren’t – it is impossible to know what changes you might make that would instantly improve your Google ratings.

Likewise, if you want to road-test something new, your customers are your first stop in evaluating what works well, and what needs a tweak! However, negative Google reviews can be a huge challenge: 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Creating a Culture of Growth

OK, so we know the value of reviews and allowing your customers an independent forum to air their experiences. However, negative reviews are not to be feared!

  • Positive reviews provide that feel-good factor, and attract new customers – but don’t give any scope for improvement.
  • Negative reviews are an opportunity to showcase how much you value your clients, with a public medium to deal with the issue.
  • Learning and growth are integral to the success of any organisation, and having the humility to accept when things haven’t gone well adds that personal, human touch.
  • Some businesses can also see a conversely positive effect, when having dealt with bad reviews professionally, thoroughly, and with the dedication to putting things right.

One of the most disastrous things you can do, if you’ve got negative Google reviews, is to ignore them. The second most disastrous thing you can do? be defensive! And the icing on the cake? Assigning an untrained member of staff to ‘make the problem go away’.

Here at Woya Digital, we have dealt with countless crisis response issues and damage control initiatives, and they almost always have a common thread. Companies might see social media or their digital presence as solely a marketing ‘technique’ – and devaluing the critical importance of these public spaces can be damaging.

If you appreciate the importance of your online presence, and how this touchpoint marks the first impression almost every client will have of your business, that sets the tone for handling negativity with a constructive attitude.

Here are a few things to think about, before firing off an angry reply:

  • Is the review accurate?
  • Can you correct the situation?
  • What has this taught you?
  • How can you make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again?

Great responses always work to provide a solution, where possible, and work with the customer to give the business a chance to understand what’s gone wrong. And EVERY review should be responded to, whether positive or negative.

A customer who takes the time to write down how they feel is your secret weapon in organic marketing, so always take the time to reply thoughtfully, promptly, and with thanks for the effort taken to provide constructive feedback about your service.

The Negative Review Tool Kit

OK, so you’ve had a terrible review, it’s splashed all over Google, and your five-star rating has just dropped down a notch.

It’s not a great feeling, but it’s how you deal with it that matters now.

  1. Take your time to read the review, understand the problem, and investigate the facts. Replying without knowing what’s happened internally can make things much worse, so make sure you have all the information you need before entering into a discussion.
  2. Always respond – even if to acknowledge the feedback, and advise that you are investigating. Yes, sometimes customers see this as a ‘cop-out’ – but only if you never do get back to them!
  3. Discuss the situation with your staff, and ask for honest appraisals about the situation. There are two sides to every story so, while the customer is king, don’t be quick to place blame or fault without everybody having the opportunity to have their input.
  4. Respond publicly. It’s always tempting to send off an email or have a private call. These are great to follow up with, and demonstrate how seriously you are taking the situation! However, a lousy public Google review with zero response is not a good look.
  5. Acknowledge what went wrong. We’re all human, mistakes do happen, and there’s nothing negative about owning up to your shortcomings.
  6. For whatever reason, someone who spends money with you feels unhappy. Always be apologetic for the inconvenience or the upset – because drilling down into the cause can be a powerful way to prevent any recurrences.
  7. Ask questions! If you need to know more, or you would like to understand why your customer is upset, ask them for the information you need.
  8. Provide a solution. In some cases, a disgruntled customer might not want a replacement product, a refund, or some other compensation, but you should always offer.
  9. If your customer is satisfied with your response and the way their concern was handled, you can request they update their review; with no pressure!

If you’ve responded, offered your appreciation for the feedback, given a solution, provided context where appropriate, and apologised – you’ve done everything possible.

Keep your cool, be calm and respectful, and NEVER resort to bad language! Customers will see this just as clearly as the poor review itself, and so your response shows how your marketing team deals with problems – which can be a big fat positive.

Ever seen a review where a customer claims they haven’t had delivery, or that nobody has responded to a customer services enquiry? If the reply below is polite, adds a little context, or offers an apology and a fast resolution, you would be far more likely to trust the business to have your back if something does go wrong, and deal with them in future.

Dealing with Fake on Malicious Google Reviews

Now, there is another potential scenario and one that can feel a lot more complex to unpick. What do you do when you’ve had a negative Google review, and you believe it to be inaccurate or malicious?

Fake reviews are infuriating, however again, keep your cool. Fake reviews do happen, and it is a by-product of the digital era that sometimes, people will post malicious content for no reason other than to cause disruption.

  • Problem: You’ve received a Google review, and believe it to be untrue.

Solution: Respond explaining your perspective, and ask for clarity if the customer believes your information to be inaccurate. Always be respectful, even if you suspect the reviewer is just after a freebie!

  • Problem: A bad Google review is fake.

Solution: If you’re certain a negative review is fake, you should still respond. The best solution is to present the facts explaining why you believe the review isn’t legitimate.

  • Problem: Your business is the target of malicious fake reviews.

Solution: We’ve all heard of competitors using this marketing tactic to discredit rivals – and if you are sure a review is fake, you can submit a request to Google to remove it.

Negative reviews can feel like a marketing disaster – but by following a clear strategy, and knowing the best techniques to manage your response process means they don’t have to be. Remember that reviews mean you get to understand what you’re getting right, and what you’re getting wrong.

By placing equal importance at both ends of the spectrum, you can improve your business visibility on Google, and present your business in the best possible light, in any scenario!

For more support with growing your digital presence, leveraging online marketing tools for business growth, or help with optimising your online activity through the intricate art of SEO, get in touch with the Woya Digital team.

 

 

Google Reviews And Your Local Business

Google Reviews And Your Local Business

Google is a big beast – the most visited search engine in the world, it processes 3.5 billion searches every day and is increasing by about 10% year-on-year. You may think your small, locally-focused business can’t really benefit from Google, but the truth is, it really can: Google’s facilities for local businesses are some of the most important online marketing tools you could ever hope to utilise, and best of all – they’re free!

One of the greatest tools available for local businesses online is Google Reviews; yet these are often feared by small enterprises. We’ve all read news articles of small businesses going ‘rogue’ on Google Reviews and writing witty, harsh or firm responses, but this aside, there’s real business benefit to be gained from using the service correctly.

Here, we uncover the ins, outs and optimisation potential of Google Reviews to identify how best they can contribute to your online marketing efforts.

What Are Google Reviews?

Google Reviews form part of  Google My Business functionality online. Alongside the business information lodged with Google for search users to find, (such as your name, address, business information, opening hours, directions and website details) users can leave a review on how they found their experience with your company.

All of this information combined reassures Google that your business is real, does what it says, and that it is in fact located where you say it is. Google will feature your local business alongside others on Google Maps, and rank businesses in order of what the algorithm determines to be most relevant to each users search criteria.

Google Reviews are (should be!) honest and unbiased customer experiences documented as part of your Google My Business online presence. They’re similar to TripAdvisor type reviews; written by individuals, but within Google and not hosted on a third-party website.

How Do Google Reviews Work?

Google Reviews are written by customers who choose to take the time to write them. When a Google user is on a Google My Business listed, they’ll see the option to ‘Write A Review’. They can then go on to complete a form with a 1 to 5 star rating, and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences on their interactions with your company. This review will then be posted alongside any others on your Google My Business listing.

Local businesses aren’t able to write reviews on themselves, but they do have the option to respond. Businesses should (must!) respond to all reviews – positive, neutral or negative! In some cases, if you suspect a Google Review to be unfair or fake, a request can be submitted for it to be removed.

How Do Google Reviews Impact Search Rankings?

Google Reviews may seem like just another part of the many online marketing priorities small businesses have to juggle, but in fact, they’re very important!

Google Reviews add a great degree of authenticity to your Google My Business listing and increase the algorithm’s judgement of ‘trustworthiness’ from your brand. Local businesses with reviews will rank higher in the SERP (Search Engine Page Results) than those without reviews, and will feature a snippet of a positive review (if there is one) in the shortened version of the listing. Googles search algorithm changes all the time, but at present, Google Reviews are only second behind otherwise organic search ranking in their SEO priorities. This means that a local business’ first priority should be basic SEO; and their second, Google Reviews.

Google likes reviews because they confirm the credibility of your business as well as provide a good indication of how well you’re thought of in the local area, and the quality of your products or services.

Why Do Google Reviews Matter?

When customers (both potential and existing) search for local products or services, they know that what they’re seeing is primarily a marketing presence – after all, we all understand that it’s 2020 and we need to present ourselves well online when we’re talking business.

This means that more than ever, people value genuine, personal experiences shared; it’s the digital version of the typical word-of-mouth recommendations that business have thrived on for years! Google’s algorithm agrees and embraces third-party independent news and views on your company and its products and services. Without Google Reviews, everything on your Google My Business is technically just marketing.

How Can I Encourage Customers To Leave Google Reviews?

Of course, the success of your Google Reviews is dependent on actually having them, and it’s an important for you to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave you a review. There are lots of ways to encourage your customers to leave you one, and these include (but are not limited to):

  • Set up a bespoke link for your business’ Google Reviews so that it’s as easy as possible for Google users to access the ‘write a review’ page (this is easily done through your Google My Business suite)
  • Email customers after their purchase/visit, share with them the link to leave a review, and ask if they would’t mind
  • Include a link to leave a Google Review on your regular email newsletters
  • Post a link to leave a Google Review on your social media channels
  • Showcase the best reviews and share them to social media channels – people are often more likely to leave one if they think you may share their words onwards
  • Take onboard any constructive feedback given in reviews and respond to them stating how you intend to enact any changes. People love to feel as though they’ve contributed positively!

How Else Can I Utilise Google Reviews Of My Business?

Shout about your reviews! Your website designer will be able to channel recent reviews directly from Google to your website so that any visitors will be able to view them. Also share your 5 star rated reviews on your social media channels to increase their visibility.

Woya Digital is making business growth through digital marketing affordable for any business through our pay monthly marketing packages, with no upfront investment! If you’re a local business owner looking to increase your business visibility, check us out and get in touch!