It matters how you respond to customer reviews, especially Google reviews; it helps your local SEO, shows customers you are involved and care. Here’s what do with good, bad, and even annoying ‘man cold’ reviews.
There’s an expression that businesses often use that goes, ‘if you liked our service, tell your friends. If you didn’t, tell us.’
When it comes to the internet, however, it’s not just friends your customers are telling, and it’s not just the good experiences they’re talking about. The good, bad and ugly parts of your business are being broadcast to the world, and they’re often being read by prospective customers before they even make it to your site!
One of the most popular platforms for this is Google Reviews. Customers can rate a business on a scale of one to five stars, as well as leave comments about their experience. A five star rating means you’re a rock star, a three star rating means your product or service was ‘meh’, and a one star rating means you have a very unhappy customer. But business owners can reply to these reviews, which gives them an opportunity to show the world how much they care about what their customers have to say—even the ones who aren’t happy.
Google Reviews is part of Google My Business. If you don’t have a Google My Business account, you should get one. It’s free, and it helps your business appear in searches, either by showing your location on the map alongside competitors, or by profiling your business information at the right side of the screen.
Why you Should Respond to Reviews
It is just as important how you respond to Google Reviews as it is that you respond. The reviews themselves are vital social proof to both Google and prospective customers alike that your business is worth engaging, plus it helps your SEO. The more reviews the better! Your responses also help with SEO, and they show your customers (and prospective customers) attractive characteristics about you and your business, mainly that you are listening to—and care about—them.
How to Respond to Good Reviews
This is easy; you just need to come up with different ways to say thank you, we’re glad we could help, etc. It shows everyone that you are reading all your reviews and paying attention to what your customers are saying.
Here are some examples where reviews left comments and others where they didn’t leave comments:
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Reading a negative review—whether it has merit or not—can make us feel defensive and angry, and given how public a forum Google Reviews are, it may feel as though we are being treated unfairly. It’s best not to hit the reply button immediately. Instead, take a deep breath, look into the customer’s file if necessary, gather the facts, and reply in a prompt, professional and confident manner.
There are different types of negative Google Reviews:
‘Man Cold’ Reviews
These are one- or two-star ratings with no comments. These reviews are unreasonable, because you have no idea what you did wrong. Like a ‘Man Cold,’ where lots of attention is required because ‘everything hurts,’ these reviews offer you nothing specific to fix.
How to Respond: Ask the customer what you could have done better. You could say something like, “Thank you for the feedback. We work hard to give our customers a wonderful experience. You gave us a (one or two) star rating but didn’t leave any comments. Please let us know what specifically we can do next time to improve your experience.”
Here are a couple of examples:
Legitimate Negative Reviews
Try as we might to please all our customers, sometimes people will have legitimate complaints. These customers may leave a one or two star rating and provide a description of their negative experience for all to see.
Your Response: First, take a deep breath. Step away from your computer if you need to. Negative reviews happen, and it’s not the end of the world. Wait until you’re completely calm before you respond, and make sure your response isn’t angry or defensive, or it will only make matters worse.
Here are some examples:
Your side of the dispute matters to the complainant — and to prospective customers
There are two sides to every dispute, and everyone who sees the bad review is waiting for your side of the story. When you respond to reviews, be factual and unemotional as you describe what happened from your perspective, and why you acted the way you did.
If you were wrong, say so and apologize. If you were right, explain your position, but remember to keep your anger, frustration, or personal thoughts of the person in check. Condescending statements about what the person ‘should have done’ or how they ‘should have behaved’ will only make you look bad.
The key to turning a bad review into something positive is sticking to the facts, describing what happened, and explaining why you acted the way you did. Most readers will appreciate that you took reasonable actions to address the customer’s complaint and having a professional manner about it can make you, and your business, look even better.
Review response summary
1–3 Star Rating: Respond to the review with facts, keeping emotions in check. Address the customer’s issues honestly, without revealing any personal information.
4–5 Star Rating: Thank the customer for taking the time to review.
1–3 Star Rating Without Comments: Ask the customer if there was something specific they did not like about their experience with your business.
Believe-it-or-not, there is free advertising on Google! It’s called Google My Business: a free listing service that provides extensive information about your business directly in the search results, and conveniently at the fingertips of your future (prospective) clients. Patrons can contact you by phone, direct message you, or visit your location without even clicking on your website!
What is Google My Business?
What is Google My Business, you ask? Say, for example, you type in a Google search and a map with little red map pins on the page featuring your competitors’ businesses appears: those businesses populating the map are active Google My Business accounts.
This is powerful because the visual draws people’s eyes to an otherwise mostly bland text page. Just by glancing at these listings – potential new customers obtain valuable information: including your phone number, location, and user rating from customer reviews. Users have enough information to contact you directly from this listing – bypassing your website completely.
Consider the convenience of your competitors business highlighted on the map; it will likely be contacted versus a business listed lower on the page. All of the businesses visible on the page are local, including the searcher’s location. It offersexactly what the search is looking for.
By clicking on the businesses listed from the search, it opens up a full business profile that includes the following details for each business:
Reviews from people who have used the business
Product / service listings
Posts and events
The list goes on……
It is easy to see why a Google My Business account is vital to any business’s performance.
Get on the Map: How to get a Google My Business Listing?
It is easy, go to Google.com/business and follow the set up links. Before you start there are a couple of things you should have ready:
You will need a Gmail address. A free one will work.
You must use a physical address, no P.O. boxes! Google needs a physical address to mail you a post card with a verification code. They will not send the post card to a P.O. box.
When you have completed the application, Google will mail you a post card with a verification code. Enter that code into your account and you are ‘Verified’.
Wait a minute….If someone works from home, they likely will not want their address shown?
When completing your application there is a question that asks: ‘Do you want to add a location customer can visit, like a store or office?’
If you answer ‘yes’ your address will show,
If you answer ‘no’ your address will not show.
Optimize to Show on the Map
Having an account does not necessarily mean that your listing will be featured business on the search results page. Your account needs to be active and optimized, just like your social media accounts such as Facebook etc.
There are lots of items you can add to your account that helps people better understand your business:
Encourage Customer Reviews
These are the reviews from real people who have experienced your business process. They legitimize your business to Google, and provide confidence to prospective customers, like a virtual testimonial. These reviews encourage significant influence over your potential new clients!
When you are confident in your business, a user has an overall great experience, and that will resonate. When this happens, don’t be shy to ask them for a review, even just a star rating – it goes a long way!
Here is the caveat: Do NOT offer compensation to anyone for reviewing your business, ever! If Google catches you it’s bad news. The reality is, it’s lonely at the bottom of listings.
Some of my customers include a review link directly in their customer follow up emails or texts.
Reply to Reviews
When you answer reviews, you demonstrate to both Google and your customers that you are indeed active and involved. An engaged business owner demonstrates legitimacy to both Google and prospective customers!
List Your Products and Services
There is plenty of room to showcase your products with pictures and their descriptions. There’s even an option to add prices; simply look for ‘Products’ on the menu.
Google My Business is a visual medium, so pictures work very well. Show the inside, the outside, as well as demonstrations of your products or services. Don’t forget to add some fun stuff too for a personal touch! For example, one of my customers held an ugly sweater contest and featured the images online, another had a Halloween party. Another client uploaded behind-the-scenes pictures of a video shoot, all were viewed heavily on Google My Business.
Short posts (from your Blog)
Add your full blog posts or just excerpts of blog posts with a link back to your website.
If you don’t blog, just add a snippet of information, or advice with a picture works well too.
If you are speaking, exhibiting, or attending an event, Google My Business is a powerful place to promote it.
Special offers go a long way. Show them here too.
Special Hours and Holidays
Here’s another cool thing you can do with a Google My Business account: add ‘Special Hours’ around holidays.
This is important to note where there’s an adjustment of hours due to a holiday long weekend, especially if your business is closed on the holiday. These special hours will over ride your regular business hours. If you are temporarily closing the business for a vacation or illness, you can do it and communicate it to your customers here.
The Power of Social Media Exists Here Too
Google My Business is as powerful as you want to make it. The businesses that are visible on the map and search results pages are proactively working their account with review responses, posts, and other updates. At webinars and seminars, I always advise people to treat their Google My Business account like a social media account. When they update Facebook do Google My Business too. You will be so glad you did!
There are some long weekends coming this summer. That means a few Mondays when you will be either open or closed on the holiday Mondays.
Whether are open or closed, before you put your feet up for the long weekend check that your Google My Business Hours reflect your holiday Monday hours.
Google My Business Holiday Hours
You are probably showing Monday’s as ‘open’ in Google My Business. After all, you are open most Mondays, except not on long weekends. If you are closed or working on modified hours, it’s best to say so on your Google My Business so people don’t get frustrated or confused when doing a Google search.
When you identify ‘special hours’ for holidays in Google My Business – those hours will override your standard hours of operation on that date.
Mark Your Vacation Closings in Google My Business Too
Are you planning a vacation later this year? Will it cause your business to close while you are away? If that’s an affirmative ‘yes’, then it’s a really good idea to add any specialty hours right away to your Google My Business account to let your customers know. The best part? It’s such an easy step to do- you won’t blink twice before it’s done!
How to Add Holidays in Your Google My Business Account:
Adding these hours is very quick, and really quite simple:
Log into your Google My Business Account
On the left menu click ‘Info’
On the info page, scroll down just below your standard business hours
Click the pencil
Enter hours for days when this business has an irregular schedule (As long as you are there, you might as well mark off other holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.)
2020 Canadian and US Holidays
Here’s a list of major holidays for 2020 and the start of 2021. You’ll likely have irregular hours to input to your Google My Business account: