Getting a negative review online can be a daunting experience – not only was someone upset with the service they received from your business, but they want to tell the entire world about it. In the heat of the moment, human nature is to fight back no matter the circumstances. Today we’re going to talk about responding vs. reacting, and how to reply to reviews with Google’s tips in mind.

It’s literally in their definitions:

Respond: say something in reply.
React: respond with hostility, opposition, or a contrary course of action to.

In the moment, human nature will always cause us to want to react, but it’s better to respond. Take a moment to clear your mind, speak to all involved parties, and make sure you have all of your facts straight. Once you have a clear mind and some information, you’ll be able to articulate your thoughts much better.

The good news is that Google directly gives you insights on dealing with reviews, both positive and negative.

Responding to reviews:

  • Be nice and don’t get personal. This isn’t just a guideline—it’s also a good idea as a business owner. It’s difficult to win an argument with a frustrated customer, and you want to avoid burning bridges. Keep your responses useful, readable, and courteous. In addition, responses should comply with our local content policy.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Users are looking for useful and genuine responses, but they can easily be overwhelmed by a long response.
  • Thank your reviewers. Respond to happy reviewers when you have new or relevant information to share. You don’t need to thank every reviewer publicly since each response reaches lots of customers.
  • Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so there’s no need to offer incentives or advertisements. Tell reviewers something new about your business, or share something they might not have learned from their first visit.

Responding to negative reviews:

  • Do not share personal data of the reviewer or attack them personally on Maps, on other services, or in the real world. Instead, suggest that they contact you personally (via Google My Business Messaging, email, phone, etc.) to resolve the issue. A positive post-review interaction often leads to the customer updating the review and shows prospective customers that you really care.
  • Investigate the reasons behind the reviewer’s negative impression of the business. Check your records for the reviewer and their experience with your business.
  • Be honest about mistakes that were made, but do not take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. Explain what you can and cannot do in the situation. Show how you can make uncontrollable issues actionable (e.g., bad weather made you cancel an event, but you’ll monitor the weather and provide advance cancellation warnings).
  • Apologize when appropriate. It’s best to say something that demonstrates compassion and empathy.
  • Show that you’re a real person by signing off with your name or initials. This helps you come across as more authentic.
  • Never lash out. Never get personal. Always be polite and professional, just as you would be face-to-face.
  • Respond in a timely manner to show that you pay attention to your customer’s experience.

Taking the proper steps when dealing with reviews can help you keep your online presence clean, even when bad reviews come in. No business in perfect, humans have good days and bad days, and it’s important to make sure that when an unfortunate situation happens, you’re prepared to respond properly. We recommend having an internal communication plan for any negative reviews or crises that may arise.

How do you deal with negative reviews? Share with us in the comments section of this post!

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