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I Received a Negative Google Review, Now What?

Since humans first started buying and selling goods and services, people have felt the need to provide “constructive feedback” to business owners – both positive and negative. Before the internet, criticism came in the form of letters, emails, or disgruntled customers at your front door. With the evolution and permanency of social media platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook, reviews now influence 80% of consumers’ online purchasing decisions.

Other staggering statistics from the website ReviewTrackers, show you shouldn’t ignore reviews if you want to stay in business:

  • 94% of consumers say that a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business
  • 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. But 63% say that a business has never responded to their review.
  • 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.

Most of the time, reviews are authentic, but sometimes they can be fake or created with malicious intent. If you follow the tips below, your business is sure to not only survive a negative Google review but possibly even thrive.

Respond to a Negative Review ASAP

If an unhappy customer called you on the phone, you wouldn’t just hang up or ask if you could call them back in a month, would you? Of course not. You’d talk to them and try to find a resolution, right? Online reviews should be treated with the same importance.

People who post online reviews expect their remarks to be read immediately and responded to just as quickly. Fast response to positive and negative reviews shows your company is listening and, more importantly, that you care about your customers. Even if you need time to research their order details before offering a solution, it’s vital to comment as soon as you see the review.

Below are some examples of initial responses:

“Thank you for your review, Molly. I’m sorry to hear you had a frustrating experience, but I really appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. I will check on your order and be back in touch as soon as I can with a possible resolution. – Dani, Owner”

“Hello Mark, thank you for letting us know about this issue! Your feedback helps us improve our company. We are looking into this issue and hope to resolve it promptly and accurately. – Cheri, Customer Service Manager”

In these examples, I included both the reviewer’s name and the person responding along with their title. Reviews are written by humans, for humans. Seeing an actual name says, “I am listening to YOU, and I am PERSONALLY going to make things right.”

Most platforms allow you to respond more than once so you can let the consumer know you’re “on it” and will be back in touch asap. Follow up on any promises you make, and then be sure to respond again with the resolution or offer to make things right in the same review thread.

Keep Your Review Response Positive

Sometimes my immediate response when reading a negative review is to become defensive – fight fire with fire, right? No, not right. Apologizing for the error and sympathizing with their frustration can go a long way in opening up an opportunity to turn a one-star review into five. Try to stay positive and put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if the situation was reversed?

“Thank you for posting this review, Brenda. I’m so sorry your experience with our team was not a positive one. My name is Nicole, and I’m the Service Manager at XYZ Company. I would like the opportunity to talk and investigate your feedback further if you could email me more details at nicole@xyzcompany.com.”

Take Ownership of the Complaint by Not Placing Blame

Not only are potential customers reading your reviews, but your team and future employees are as well. It can speak volumes about a company’s culture and management style if a company representative places blame on a staff member vs. taking ownership of the problem as a whole.

And it goes without saying, if a negative review mentions an employee by name, share the review with them privately, not during a Monday morning staff meeting or in an all-staff email blast.

Move the Conversation Offline

If you can tie the review back to an actual order or purchase, you most likely have access to the person’s email or phone number. After responding initially to the review, take the conversation offline to get it out of the limelight. Then, once a resolution has been reached, comment back on the review thread on what was discussed and how your company “made things right.”

This is an important step that is often overlooked. The company’s integrity can suffer if you don’t follow through with what you say you’ll do.

Manage a Bad or Remove a Fake Google Review

If you feel the review might be fake, written by a competitor, a disgruntled employee, or perhaps it was posted on the wrong company page, you can request that the review be reviewed. All platforms (including Google’s) have policies on reviews, and typically if conditions like the above are proven, it can be deleted.

Google’s review procedure can take between 5-20 days, so you might want to post something like this while you wait:

“Thanks for submitting your comments, Bob. That experience must have been very frustrating for you. I checked, and I don’t appear to have an order under your name. Can you please send your order number to Jenny@XYZCompany.com, and I will research this further? – Jenny, Customer Service Manager”

Overcome a Negative Online Review

Sometimes no matter what resolution you offer, you can’t get that one-star reviewer to budge. On most social media channels, reviews are time/date stamped, so if you can get happy customers stacked on top, it pushes the negative one down the page.

Of course, if you were able to come to a resolution, ask them to re-review you or change their star setting. Even if they move from one star to two, it’s an improvement in your overall average. The worst they can say is “no,” right?

Pro Tip: When asking for a review, ask your customers to comment on specific aspects of your company or your product benefits. That way, it’s easier for them to write the review, and you’ll also get reviews that are all different.

Also, don’t forget to thank those customers who leave a good review. If they’ve paid you a compliment in person, the most natural response would be to say, “thank you,” right? The same goes for positive reviews. Here’s an all-purpose template that you can use to respond to positive reviews:

“Dear Lance, thanks for leaving us such a wonderful review! We are thrilled that you loved your experience, and my team will be so happy to read what you wrote. Customer experience and satisfaction are a big priority for us, and your review reaffirms the hard work we put in every day. Thank you again for choosing XYZ, and we look forward to serving you again soon! – James, owner”

Learn From Your Online Reviews

And finally, give yourself a break. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Getting a bad review isn’t the end of the world. Try to think of negative reviews as opportunities instead of insults. Listening to your customers, even the grumpy ones, will allow your company to become a better version of itself, ensuring your next reviews will be the best ones yet.