From Glassdoor to Better Business Bureau, there is a wealth of business review websites for customers to leave reviews online. Creating a free Google Business Profile (GBP) is another way to get your customers to leave a review. Google reviews can make or break your local SEO strategy, so it’s pivotal that you know how to respond to the good, bad, and sometimes ugly.
A 2022 report from ReviewTrackers showed Google is home to 73% of all online reviews — you simply can’t afford to ignore them. Many people will form their first impression of your local business on these reviews and the level of care (if any) you’ve shown to your customers’ experiences.
It’s no secret that Google is the world’s most famous search engine, so let’s look at how adopting the best practices for responding to Google reviews can improve your online reputation.
Why is responding to Google reviews so important?
Whether positive or negative, customers demand a timely response from you after leaving a review. If they’ve given up their precious time to leave a review, they expect business owners and customer service teams to do the same when it comes to mustering a response.
It can also have an impact on you finding new customers. When potential customers read through your Google reviews, they expect to see swift and proactive responses that demonstrate a dedication to splendid customer service.
In local SEO, reviews have a significant impact on rankings. Google wants to show searchers the car dealerships, restaurants, and other businesses in their area that will likely offer a great experience. Google’s goal is for searchers to be satisfied with the businesses they recommend — they trust their users and the reviews they share. The search engine’s algorithm will use these reviews to determine where your local business should rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
In certain search parameters, Google only displays businesses with ratings above 4.0, such as adding the modifier “best” to a search query. For example, if a user searches for “best hairdressers Leeds”, Google will automatically hide any hairdressers with a rating <4.0.
While you can’t control what is said about your company on Google, you can regularly monitor and respond to reviews to manage their impact on your online reputation. Customers want their voices to be heard, and a good response is the most simple yet powerful way to create long-lasting relationships with them.
Let’s look at some other reasons why responding to Google reviews is incredibly important.
Build trust and credibility
The majority of customers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. They represent your brand and help establish trust and credibility with Google and potential customers.
Supports customer retention
Showing appreciation to customers for their nice words and responding to negative Google reviews with kindness and professionalism can improve customer retention. Responding to your online reviews shows existing and prospective customers that you value feedback and appreciate their business. This can build loyalty and encourage repeat custom.
Benefits your brand
Responding to Google reviews can drive brand success. They determine how a customer perceives your brand and can even help them access more information about your business besides the standard of customer service.
For example, if you run a local restaurant, diners could mention their favourite dishes or even leave images of your food in the review. Constructing review replies also enables you to include company values and ensure your responses perfectly match your brand’s unique tone and voice. You can also target brand and contextual queries through terms like your business name, products, and services.
For example, a dog-friendly hotel could piece together the following Google review response:
“We appreciate your kind words and are so glad you had a great experience with us at [Insert the name of the hotel]. We believe dogs are part of the family and always do our best to provide a dog-friendly environment that makes your pet feel comfortable, happy, and safe."
Helps local SEO
When Google analyses a business, it needs evidence that you’re active and customer-centric. Taking the time to thank happy customers, apologise to disappointed clients, and attempt to resolve their problems is favourable for your local SEO performance.
It increases your company’s visibility on Google Maps and other search engines by showing their algorithms you are authoritative and engaged with your customer base. This is proven to help boost ranking in local search results, drawing more traffic to your website and physical location(s).
Attracts new customers
Replying to reviews can significantly increase your chances of winning new business. It shows potential customers your company is engaged with past customers, that you value their feedback, and that you care about their experience.
Not responding to reviews will make it impossible to build credibility and trust with potential customers searching for your business online. Many businesses become too engrossed in generating reviews, so take a moment to send a genuine and timely response. This will add a layer of additional satisfaction to your customer service, which won’t go unnoticed by the local fraternity.
Mitigates negative impact
Even the most customer-focused businesses that run like clockwork aren’t immune to negative reviews. Customers expect a prompt response after leaving a review — for negative reviews, you should aim to reply within 24 hours.
You can turn a negative situation into a positive one by acting quickly. Don’t just use negative reviews as a learning experience. Also, consider it an excellent way to show you’re an engaged business that cares about your customers.
While a negative review won’t disappear from your GBP (unless it violates Google’s content policy), acknowledging a customer’s concerns and offering resolutions or apologies can win back their business. A thoughtful post-review interaction can help improve your online reputation and even encourage customers to update their reviews.
Businesses face an increasing demand for accountability and transparency from their customer base. Responding to Google reviews enables customers and other online users to see your brand's positive and negative aspects. If you or one of your staff make a mistake, own it, explain what happened, and offer a solution to put it right. This lets potential customers know they won’t deal with the same pessimistic scenario if they choose your business.
Don’t be tempted to add manipulated or fake reviews, as it gives false expectations, reducing your chances of generating customer loyalty and retention. This method isn’t just unethical — it can also result in Google penalising or completely removing your business from the platform.
How to respond to Google Reviews
Remember that your responses are public for everyone to read when responding to Google Reviews.
While quickly responding is imperative, how you react to negative and positive feedback can seriously impact your business’s reputation and customer’s decisions.
We’ll give you all the tips you need to craft the perfect Google Review response, but first, let’s look at the tools and technology you can use to make the process even more efficient.
You can respond to Google reviews on a mobile device or tablet through your Google Business Profile account. To reply to Google reviews from your mobile or tablet, follow these steps:
- Open Google Search or the Google Maps app.
- On Google Maps, tap business in the bottom right. If using Google Search, simply enter your business name in the search bar.
- Tap “Reviews” and find the review you want to respond to. Click “Reply”.
- Enter your response and tap “Reply”.
Desktop users can respond to Google reviews by following these steps:
- Sign in to your GBP and click “Read Reviews”.
- Scroll to find the review you’d like to respond to and click on it.
- Type your response in the message box and click “Reply”.
The Mirador Local all-in-one management tool enables you to manage all your GBP listings from one place, including customer reviews. This means you can quickly and effectively respond to Google reviews across all your locations, all thanks to a bit of help from our single, easy-to-use dashboard.
How to respond to negative reviews on Google
It’s vital not to take negative reviews to heart or view them as a digital confrontation, as this can cause anger and anxiety. Instead, see it as enhancing your brand image and customer service.
Let’s look at the right way to respond to negative Google reviews so you can mitigate the damage, preserve your business reputation, and potentially rescue some positivity from the wreckage.
Assess the feedback
You need a clear headspace before responding to a negative Google review. When you receive a negative Google review, the initial response is typically to get defensive. Replying without thinking it through can fuel an angry customer.
Don’t get emotional, and be sure to respond positively — a negative response to a negative review will cost you customers.
Stay calm and objective
You should only respond to negative reviews once you are calm. Remain professional and neutral, focusing your response on being apologetic but without taking responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. Acknowledge the specific issues the customer had with their experience and hone in on trying to heal their wounds.
Thank the reviewer
Don’t forget to thank the customer for their review and appreciate them for their business. A quick thank you goes a long way, even if the feedback is negative. It sets a neutral and appreciative tone for the rest of the review instead of a combative or defensive one.
Show compassion and empathy for the customer by being sincere. You need to show you’re concerned that they’ve received a bad experience. It’s not an opportunity to apportion blame elsewhere or dismiss concerns. When you say sorry, it needs to be genuine and heartfelt.
Acknowledge the issue
Acknowledging the customer’s concerns is a crucial early step to finding a resolution. Even if you don’t think they’re right, you need to thank them for bringing the situation to your attention and recognise what has led them to voice a bad experience with your business. This can help you put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Whether they don’t understand your processes or are just having an off day, all it takes is a response like:
“Thank you for providing your feedback and informing us about this issue.”
Avoid blame or excuses
No business is flawless, and you and your team are bound to make mistakes. Don’t make excuses — take responsibility and be honest about why the mistake or misunderstanding occurred. This builds customer rapport and makes them more likely to work with you towards a win-win result — remember, transparency is always the best policy.
Offer a solution or resolution
Many customers who write negative Google reviews ultimately seek a resolution to a problem. For example, if a customer was inconvenienced because you forgot to update your holiday opening times, you could offer to make their next visit much smoother by making an appointment or saving them time by tendering free delivery on your products or services. Ultimately, if you don’t offer a solution, you haven’t properly responded.
It’s always wise to devise a couple of options to mitigate the issue, so you have other options to fall back on if the first solution doesn’t work out. Only offer an incentive if you need it to recapture a customer’s attention and reinforce the sincerity of your response.
Try to use customer lifetime value to determine if someone should get an incentive or not. This will help prevent your business from losing money by constantly bending backwards for customers who aren’t a good fit.
Keep it concise
Sometimes sorry seems to be the hardest word, but the best responses to bad reviews are clear and concise. Long explanations can come off as defensive, so get straight to the point and issue an apology.
It can be as simple as “We apologise that our service did not meet your expectations.” This will appease the customer and show to others you care about providing a high level of service.
Consistent and thoughtful engagement needs to be evident across all your responses to negative reviews. Implement a centrally set response policy and use negative review response templates to ensure consistency across your entire workforce. If online users can see you are consistent and fair with your feedback, they will view you as courteous, professional, and trustworthy.
Use a template
As we’ve just touched on, a negative review template can guide you and your team on exactly what to say (and what not to say). It enables you to reply calmly and constructively, while ensuring you cover all of the critical points.
Monitor & follow up
Follow-up policies and procedures are important to ensure the customer is contacted to discuss their feedback. Offering your contact details after your initial response is a great way to rebuild bridges, as it encourages the customer to follow up with you or communicate further.
Continue to monitor your reviews regularly and show customers who’ve had negative experiences with your brand that you value their opinions and are committed to constantly improving your service.
Can you remove negative Google reviews?
GBP owners are unable to delete reviews. The two ways for a Google review to be removed are if the person who posted the review deletes it or if Google removes it because it doesn’t comply with their review policies. For example, containing fake or spam content.
If Google’s built-in spam checkers overlook what you feel is an inappropriate review, you can take matters into your own hands and flag it with them.
Negative Google review response examples
So, we’ve taught you how to respond to negative reviews on Google, but it’s always nice to see some strong examples to get you started and keep you on the right lines.
Negative Google review response example 1
Restaurants work hard to provide delicious food and excellent service, but there will be times when not everyone’s tastebuds are satisfied. Here’s a good example of how a café or restaurant can cook up an empathetic and professional reply to a negative review.
“Thank you for your feedback. We’re sorry you had a negative experience at our steakhouse. We appreciate your honest feedback and would like to invite you to contact us directly at [phone number/email] so we can resolve the issue. Thank you again for your feedback, and we hope to have the opportunity to provide you with the exceptional dining experience we strive for.”
Negative Google review response 2
Guest reviews have a significant impact on where travellers book for their stay. Let’s see an excellent example that guesthouses, hotels, and B&Bs can use to handle a negative Google review.
“Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We see you have given us a 1-star rating. We regret that your stay at our hotel did not meet your expectations. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience you encountered.
We value your feedback and are taking immediate steps to address the issues you mentioned. We want to extend our invitation to you for another stay with us, where we assure you a more pleasant experience.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our reservations team at [contact information] so we can assist you further.”
How to respond to positive Google reviews
Businesses can’t survive without positive reviews from customers. A common mistake is only responding to unhappy customers, but it’s just as important to thank individuals for leaving positive feedback.
You might think you can only say “Thanks!” so many times, but a positive response to a positive review will leave a glowing impression on the customer, leading to a higher probability of repeat business.
This will also show Google that you’re constantly active in order to achieve higher local search rankings. Here are some tips to help you respond to positive Google reviews and make your happy customers even happier.
Responding to positive reviews in a timely manner is a key part of developing strong relationships with your customers. It shows you’re paying attention and appreciative of their kind words, encouraging them to continue doing business with you.
Use personalisation where possible
Addressing the reviewer by name is a simple but effective way to add a personalised touch to your positive Google review responses. It makes your online exchange feel more human, while showing the customer that you’ve bothered to read and listen to what they’ve had to say.
It’s also a sign that you value the time they took to compile a review, and that their positive feedback means a lot to your local business.
Refer to specific details from positive Google reviews to demonstrate you are paying attention to your feedback. Whether it’s the quality of your beauty treatments or the way a particular team member helped solve a problem, highlight the specific aspects of the service that the customer enjoyed.
Thank the reviewer
Showing your gratitude is an essential ingredient of any positive Google review reply. They may only be two words, but a “thank you” goes a long way. Use alternative phrases like “we appreciate” and “it means a great deal” to make your responses more unique and human-centred.
Reiterate the positives
Play on the positives that contributed to your customer’s memorable experience by repeating them in your response. This plays two roles. First, it shows them you took the time to fully digest their review (rather than skim through it), and second, it reiterates the brilliant parts of your business to any potential customers who come across the review. This can reaffirm to them that your business is the one they should choose.
Invite return visits
Drive repeat custom by inviting customers to return. There’s no better time to jump on the bandwagon and get them back for another visit, than when they’re riding a wave of positivity about your business. You can sweeten the deal with a small discount or other incentive, but often, all it takes is a little sign-off, such as “We’d love to see you back in our store soon.”
Keep it concise
Your response doesn’t need to be long or flamboyant — keep it appreciative, authentic, concise, and professional. Avoid being overly formal or using overly promotional language, as your response is ultimately about showing your gratitude.
Share your teams’ pride
Use your positive Google review response to emphasise your team’s commitment and pride in providing excellent service. This will position your business as responsive and dedicated to helping. Don’t forget to spread the joy across the team — your employees will be just as excited as you are that their hard work has been acknowledged outside of the inner circle.
Highlight customer-centric culture
Customers and prospective clients reading your positive review responses get a glimpse into your company’s attitude and culture. It demonstrates that you value all feedback, creating a positive image of your local business in the eyes of online users.
Monitor & follow-up
If someone leaves a fantastic review, they will likely share their positive experience with others. It’s the perfect time to ask for a personal referral to friends and family. If you have a referral program, don’t hesitate to mention it. Word of mouth is powerful, so keep the conversation going after the sale or service by monitoring and following up on all your positive reviews.
Positive Google review response examples
Now you know the fundamentals that make up a positive Google review response, it’s time to dig into some specific examples that you can use to fuel your replies to positive feedback.
Here’s an example of a response a local football coaching company could post.
Note its personal touch that refers to a real person impacted by the positive review. It serves as a poignant reminder that real people are at the heart of your business. Showing a good comment's blissful impact on your staff can also encourage other customers to do the same.
Positive Google review response example 1
“Hi [Insert reviewer’s name]
Thank you very much for your kind review of our football coaching business. We passed your comments about your daughter’s session onto our coach [insert coach’s name], and it made his day. Regardless of age and ability, we always strive to make our football coaching sessions fun for the children, so we are delighted she had an enjoyable time at [business name] and hope to see her next week.”
Positive Google review response example 2
Here’s an example of a spa using a response to a positive Google review to give an update on a product or service. Not only does this show online users you’re motivated to improve your offering, but it also gives the happy customer an extra incentive to come back again.
“Thank you so much [insert reviewer’s name) for your kind words about our spa. We are thrilled you enjoyed your afternoon tea and had such a great experience using our state-of-the-art spa facilities. We are always looking for ways to improve our services and are excited to announce we will soon be sharing exciting new development plans for our spa, including adding to our range of spa treatments. Keep an eye on our website in the coming weeks, and we look forward to welcoming you through our doors again soon.”
Top tips for responding to Google reviews
Responding to Google reviews is integral to the success of any local business. Lean on these tips and tricks so you can respond confidently to whatever feedback you receive.
It’s important to remain professional at all times. From checking your spelling to setting a professional tone, avoid personal reviews and being over-defensive, emotional, or sarcastic.
Even though bad reviews can be scathing, negatively responding will only harm your online reputation.
A professional response demonstrates you take all customer feedback (positive and negative) seriously and are committed to putting your customers first and improving their experience.
Avoid using the same response
Always respond with the same energy to your customers, but vary your responses wherever possible. While it can be challenging to come up with different ways to express your gratitude or regret, variety is vital to providing personalised and unique responses to your customers.
Encourage further engagement
Review responses are significant for both businesses and customers, and offer a golden opportunity to create an authentic engagement with customers to build loyalty, foster a positive online reputation, and grab the attention of potential new clients.
Common challenges when replying to reviews on Google
Every Google review and how you respond to it inevitably comes with its own distinctive challenges. Here are some to be mindful of.
It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for a solitary negative review. They can be crippling for businesses and “stoke the fire”, but it’s imperative you reply to every negative message in a friendly, professional, and timely manner.
False or fake reviews
False and fake reviews designed to taint your business’s reputation are incredibly frustrating. They have a malicious nature — some people write fake reviews to slander a brand, and competitors will even post fake reviews to give themselves a leg up in their respective industry. Don't hesitate to flag these types of reviews with Google.
Harassment or offensive content violates Google’s review policies. Reviews containing hate speech, harassment, or unsubstantiated allegations of ethical or legal wrongdoing must be raised with the search engine powerhouse.
Language and cultural barriers
If you’re a hotelier or restaurateur, you’ve probably received customer reviews and business enquiries in foreign languages. Ideally, you should reply using the same language as the customer — they will appreciate your efforts.
This can be difficult to implement if you or one of your staff members doesn’t speak their native language. You can get around this if you have enough money in your budget to recruit people who are at least bilingual.
Google has a translator so the reader can translate your reply into their original language, but it will not be perfect. Replying in English is your best bet for a more accurate automatic translation. However, answering in your customer’s language (if you have the resources) is best for efficient communication, embracing world cultures, and contributing to a positive brand image.
Volume of reviews
Multiple-location businesses and franchises can quickly become overwhelmed by the volume of Google reviews they receive. Thankfully, a tool like Mirador Local can quell your worries about spending excessive time managing all your business reviews across all locations. It provides scalable management for all your GBP listings, meaning you can promptly reply to customer feedback through a single dashboard.
Remember, it’s not a bad thing to be caked in reviews. The more reviews your business has, the more prominence it has, which helps drive local results in the SERPs. Of course, you’ll still need to show you’re an active business by responding to them, using the tips outlined in this guide.
From using the same brand voice and writing style to replying in good time, implement a review response strategy, so all your responses are consistent. This will impact how your business is portrayed — other ground rules you should consider laying include personalising every response and including a “thank you”.
Monitoring reviews regularly and responding to them consistently is the lifeblood of every local business, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. The modern consumer thrives on information, so use this compelling review platform to breed a positive online reputation and build a strong relationship with your customers.
If you require a system that enables you to track all your online feedback so no reviews go unanswered, get in touch to request a demo of Mirador Local’s review management software.