How to Manage Google Reviews – the Good, the Bad, and the Hideous

A significant 97% of business leaders claim that online reputation management is important to their business. We live in a digital world where anyone can hop behind a keyboard and wreak havoc on your brand image with one sentence. Staying on top of what they’re saying, why they’re saying it and who they’re saying it to can be a full-time job.  One place where this is especially important? Google My Business. This online platform allows companies across myriad industry niches to create free business profiles. It’s an invaluable resource that builds credibility and exposure, but learning how to manage Google reviews can be challenging.  Can you respond to them? If so, what is the best way to do so? In the quest to uphold your virtual image, there’s no shortage of questions. Today, we’re sharing our guide to managing your Google My Business reviews. This way, you can be sure you’re putting your best foot forward.  Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

Responding to Google Reviews

Let’s address the most important question first. Yes, you can respond to a Google review. In fact, it’s in your best interest to do so. Companies that respond to customer reviews receive higher overall ratings than those that ignore them. Case in point? One recent study found that hotels taking proactive measures to reply to online feedback saw a 12% uptick in the number of reviews they received. Moreover, their ratings jumped by an average of 0.12 stars. Why is this effective? As you engage your clients in a personal way, you glean deeper insight into why they left the feedback they did. You also reveal that you’re invested in your audience and what they care about. As you learn from past mistakes and find ways to improve, you improve the client experience and your image, to boot. As a business owner, you can respond to a Google review via your desktop or mobile device. Before you can do so, however, you’ll need to verify your business so Google can make sure you’re the business owner. Here are the steps to follow to take care of this step. Once you’re verified, you’re ready to take control of your reviews. While the process is similar, there are a few different steps. Let’s take a look at each.

How to Respond via Desktop

Start by logging into your Google My Business account. You can find it by navigating to the homepage. Or, you can find your business listing via Google Maps and log into your account from there. Once you’re in, locate the menu (three horizontal bars) in the top left corner. Click here and select “All Locations” and then “Manage Reviews.” Does your company have multiple locations? If so, locate the one you want to manage from the drop-down menu, then click “Manage Reviews.”  Search for the review you want to reply to, then initiate action by clicking “View and Reply.” Now, you’ll see a message box allowing you to enter your response to the review in question.

How to Respond Via Mobile Device

Logging into your Google My Business profile with your smartphone? The process is a little quicker. Click the app to open the application. Once you’re in, click the menu icon. Find the review and click “Reply Now” to open a message box. With either device, when you’re finished writing your reply, press “Send” to submit it. Then, your reply will appear below the online review. 

Responding to Negative Reviews

Next, we’ll tackle the second most important question. Is there a magic wand I can wave to get rid of bad Google reviews? Unfortunately, no. And, any steps you would have taken in the past to ensure your image stayed squeaky clean are no longer permissible. Recently, the search engine giant updated its rules to prohibit “sentiment checks.” This means you can’t set up an automated system that prompts users to share whether they’ve had a good or bad experience with your company before they leave you feedback. In years past, this allowed companies to weed out the clients who responded in a negative manner to the first question, flooding their Google My Business listing with only glowing remarks.  While that tactic is out, there are plenty of ways you can make the most of even the most negative reviews. These can provide opportunities for unparalleled growth, so it’s important that you act on them.

Take the Review In-House

Tempted to open a message box and begin typing a bitter reply? Take a deep breath. Then, take the matter to your in-house team instead. This gives you time to cool down and ensures you won’t leave a hot-headed response that will exacerbate the issue.  Hold a meeting to determine how to best respond to the comment or feedback. Assess the situation from a different perspective. If this is the first ding against your reputation, put operational steps in place at the onset that define next-step procedures to take when it happens again. This way, you don’t have to hold a conference call every time someone takes to the internet to air their grievances.

Respond to the Review in Public

Once your team decides how to respond to the review, you should reach out to the customer. You may decide to offer a promotional discount to earn back their business. Or, you may refund their money if they’re unsatisfied with a purchase. But, don’t stop there. Also, reply on the public platform where the review resides.  This way, the public can see that your company has nothing to hide. Rather, you’re attentive to your audience and care about your image. 

Don’t Get Personal

While it’s important to personalize your response to any review, don’t confuse this with making it too personal.  As you respond in public, take the time to craft a meaningful message that begins with the reviewer’s name. One full of fluffy language that beats around the issue at hand is never appropriate. Instead, offer a proactive solution that can lead to a positive outcome. For instance, you may ask that a customer reach out to you for more information, then leave your e-mail address. Or, you can direct that person to your customer service department for follow-up.  However, avoid falling into the trap of taking every negative review as a personal attack on your character. Viewing them as such can lead you to respond in a manner you’ll regret later. Remember, it’s impossible to win an argument with an irate customer and you want to build bridges, not burn them. Keep your reply professional, useful and polite. Avoid getting too long-winded and stick to the facts. You’ll get your message across much clearer that way.

Apologize as Appropriate

Not every negative review will warrant an apology on your end. Yet, if the matter calls for it, don’t be afraid to apologize if your company was in the wrong. This sends the message that you care about your customers more than your bottom line.  Above all, be sure to display genuine empathy over a blanket apology. Today’s customers are more empowered than ever before and they can smell a skunk from a mile away.

Resolve the Issue

It’s unwise to let a negative review sit open-ended. Instead, work to resolve any outstanding issues and quell customer concerns.  Research shows that out of all the people who feel wronged by a company, around 4% will complain. If the company is then able to correct the wrongdoing, that 4% will tell six to seven people about the reversal within one week. This positive word-of-mouth exchange creates a pyramid of 250 customers willing to vouch for your company. The bottom line? If you can turn a wrong into a right, do so. The return is far worth the investment. 

Responding to Positive Reviews

It’s easy to want to respond to negative reviews as soon as they come in. They can spread like wildfire and leave a path of destruction in their wake. Positive reviews, on the other hand? They’re nice to receive, but how often do you think about responding to them? If you’re shrugging right now, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy. Online recommendations can be vital tools in your advertising arsenal.  How? Studies show that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from their friends and family members.  When you highlight positive reviews and respond to them in a personal manner, you leverage their power. Let’s take a look at the steps to take when a five-star rating comes through your Google My Business portal.

Use First Names

How many times do we write “Hey there” before starting a text to a friend or colleague? To you, it might feel casual. To your clients, it’s a giant red flag that you didn’t catch their name. Notice every reviewer’s name and use it to open your response. When you do, science reveals that you pique their interest and get their attention. 

Customize Your Reply

Modern consumers are discerning and laser-focused. They also crave personalization and can tell a canned response right off the bat.  Rather than copying and pasting the same reply into all of your reviews, tweak each one to fit each reviewer’s unique scenario. For instance, say a customer named Mike says he loved a new feature of your software. Opening with his first name, explain that your teams worked hard on the update to improve usability and you’re glad he noticed.  It takes seconds to pull out key data such as this and feature it in your response. Yet, it can make all the difference in how genuine your company appears to outsiders. 

Express Appreciation

Have you ever given someone a nice gift, only for them to toss it aside and not even notice it? That’s why it’s important that you say “thank you” to those who leave you a positive review.  Let the reviewer know how much those words meant to your company and what new developments you have on the horizon. 

Amplify the Value

Saying “thank you” is a great first start. However, keep it going. In other words, make it worthwhile for someone to leave your company a positive review. Read their review to pick up on features of your products or services they adored. Then, lead them to links on your website where they can learn more or download PDFs. Share links to your social media profiles and encourage them to follow along.  Use a positive review as a jumping-off point to showcase your offerings and provide any extra value you can. Go the extra mile and you’ll reap the rewards down the road.

We’ll Help You Manage Google Reviews and More

With so much of your business’ identity wrapped up in your online presence, it can be challenging to keep up with it all. Between your website, social media feeds, CRM system and more, your data endpoints are all over the place. Yet, online reputation management begs your attention and it’s the one step you can’t afford to miss, especially when you’re building a new brand.  When you’re ready to take proactive control of your identity, manage Google reviews and make the most of your digital footprint, we’d love to help. We provide review management services that help you stay on top of the conversation swirling about your company. From Google to Yelp, we’ll send you real-time updates on reviews as they come in. This way, you can respond quicker and analyze inputs to identify trends.  We’ll also empower you to contact clients to ask for an honest review, adding to your valuable collection of feedback.  Ready to try it for yourself? Sign up now to get started and take control of your company’s future.   

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