How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews Like a Pro
Turn Upset Customers to Loyal Advocates (Yes, It's Possible!)
Shucks. Got a negative Google review!
You know how important Google reviews are for your business. They can help you attract more leads, convert more customers, and build more trust and loyalty. According to a study by BrightLocal, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020, and 73% only pay attention to reviews written in the last month.
Naturally no business likes to see negative reviews and sometimes you might even feel that the negative reviews are unjustified. However negative reviews are almost inevitable in every business. Note that Google will not remove all negative reviews but only those that violate Google’s policies (see below – we’ve got you covered for that).
So what happens when you get a bad Google review? How do you handle it without damaging your reputation or losing your clients? Negative reviews are inevitable, no matter how good your service is. You can’t please everyone, and sometimes things go wrong. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore or delete them. In fact, responding to bad Google reviews can be an opportunity to showcase your professionalism and commitment to customer satisfaction.
In this post, we will share with you some tips on how to respond to bad Google reviews effectively and gracefully. We will show you how to turn a negative situation into a positive one, and how to use feedback as a tool for improvement. Whether you are a new or established business, these tips will help you grow faster and better in 2023.
Tip 1: focus on what you can do
One of the most important tips on how to respond to bad Google reviews is to focus on what you can do, not what you should have done. When you receive a negative review, it’s tempting to make excuses or blame others for the situation. You might think that explaining why something went wrong or defending your actions will make the customer understand and forgive you. But this is not the case.
Making excuses or blaming others will only make you look unprofessional and irresponsible. It will also show that you don’t care about the customer’s feelings or needs, and that you are not willing to take responsibility for your mistakes. This will damage your reputation and trustworthiness, and potentially drive away more customers.
Instead of focusing on what you should have done, focus on what you can do to make the situation better. Show that you care about resolving the issue and improving your service. Explain what steps you have taken or will take to prevent similar problems in the future. Offer a solution or compensation that can make up for the negative experience. Demonstrate that you are attentive and responsive, and that you value customer feedback as a tool for improvement.
Focusing on what you can do will help you turn a negative situation into a positive one. It will show that you are professional and committed to customer satisfaction. It will also show that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and grow as a business. This will enhance your reputation and trustworthiness, and potentially attract more customers.
Tip 2: Respond promptly (but not angrily)
Responding promptly to negative Google reviews is important because it shows that you value customer feedback and are actively working to address their concerns. When customers see that you are engaged and care about their experience, they are more likely to feel heard and respected. This, in turn, can help to mitigate any negative impact that the review may have on your business.
However, it’s also important to take the time to compose a thoughtful response. This means not reacting impulsively or defensively, but rather taking a step back to consider the feedback and how you can best address it. Responding in an emotional or defensive way can often escalate the situation and make the customer feel even more dissatisfied.
So, while it’s important to respond promptly to negative reviews, it’s equally important to do so with a level head. Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and craft a response that acknowledges the customer’s concerns and demonstrates your commitment to providing a high-quality experience. By doing so, you can turn a negative review into an opportunity to show your dedication to customer service and improve your business’s reputation.
Tip 3: Stay professional and courteous
When responding to negative Google reviews, it’s important to maintain a professional and courteous tone at all times. This means refraining from lashing out, taking the review personally, or responding in an emotional way. Responding in a professional and polite manner can help to defuse any tension and show the customer that you value their feedback, even if you disagree with it.
If you do feel emotional or upset about a negative review, it’s a good idea to take a break and step away from the situation for a little while. Take a deep breath, clear your head, and then come back to craft a thoughtful and respectful response.
It’s also important to avoid meeting negativity with negativity. Responding in a defensive or combative way will only escalate the situation and damage your brand’s reputation. Instead, take the time to understand the customer’s concerns, acknowledge their experience, and offer a solution or explanation where appropriate. This shows that you are committed to addressing their feedback and providing a positive experience for all customers.
In summary, staying professional and courteous when responding to negative reviews is essential for maintaining a positive reputation and building customer trust. By avoiding emotional reactions and responding thoughtfully, you can turn a negative review into an opportunity to show your dedication to customer service and improve your business’s image.
Tip 4: Understand your customer’s experience with your business before responding
Before responding to negative Google reviews, it’s crucial to understand the customer’s experience with your business. If a customer mentions a problem with a product or service, take the time to investigate and determine what went wrong. This will help you craft a more informed and empathetic response that addresses the customer’s concerns.
When responding, it’s important to be honest about any mistakes that were made and the steps you’re taking to remedy the situation. This can include offering a refund, providing a replacement product or service, or simply apologizing for the inconvenience. By acknowledging the customer’s concerns and demonstrating a commitment to resolving the issue, you can show other customers reading the review that you take customer satisfaction seriously.
Here’s an example of how you can understand a customer’s experience before responding to a negative review:
Tip 5: Apologize when appropriate (but not ALWAYS)
When responding to negative Google reviews, it’s important to show compassion and empathy towards the customer. If appropriate, apologize for any inconvenience or negative experience the customer may have had. However, it’s equally important to not take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. This can help avoid misunderstandings and potential liability issues.
Here’s an example of how to apologize when appropriate but not take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault:
By showing empathy for the customer’s negative experience and offering a solution or compensation, you can demonstrate that you care about their satisfaction without taking responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault. This can help you maintain a professional and courteous tone, and avoid potential misunderstandings.
Tip 6: Offer to talk it over
If this is the first you’re hearing of the complaint, invite the customer to email or call so that you can try to sort out the matter with them. Leave your contact details so they can get in touch.
Sometimes, it’s better to take the conversation off Google and resolve it privately through phone, email, or chat. This can help you avoid escalating the conflict online (and leave out the less than pleasant details) and show that you are willing to go above and beyond to satisfy your customer. This can help you maintain a positive image for your brand and build customer loyalty. This is especially so for potential customers who are reading these reviews and responses, and for them to understand that you are a company which is willing to do the right things for the customer.
Here’s an example of how to offer to talk things over with the customer:
Tip 7: Show that you’re authentic and genuine
When responding to negative Google reviews, it’s important to show that you are authentic and genuine. This can help build trust with the customer and show that you are taking their feedback seriously. By showing authenticity and genuineness in your response, you can build a positive rapport with the customer and potentially turn a negative experience into a positive one.
Here are some actionable tips for showing authenticity and genuineness:
Sign off with your name or initials: This shows that a real person is listening to the customer’s feedback and taking their concerns seriously. It can also make the customer feel more valued and appreciated.
Let the customer know if you are the owner: If you are the owner of the business, it’s a good idea to let the customer know. This can show that you are personally invested in your business and its reputation, and that you are willing to take the time to address their concerns.
Avoid using canned responses: Customers can often tell when a response is automated or copied and pasted. We’ve all seen plenty of such responses and they often backfire. Instead, take the time to craft a personalized response that shows you have read and understand their feedback.
Use a conversational tone: Write your response as if you were speaking directly to the customer. This can help to build a more personal connection and show that you are invested in their experience.
Acknowledge the customer’s specific concerns: When responding to a negative review, address the customer’s specific concerns or complaints. This shows that you are not just sending a generic response, but are genuinely interested in resolving their issue.
Offer a solution: If possible, offer a specific solution to the customer’s problem. This can help to show that you are committed to resolving their issue and are willing to go above and beyond to make things right
Tip 8: Offer a solution or a compensation if possible
When a customer has a negative experience with your business, it’s important to make an effort to make it right. One way to do this is by offering a solution or compensation if possible. Consider the severity of the issue and what you can do to make up for it. For example, if a product was defective, offer a refund or replacement. If the service was unsatisfactory, offer a discount or free service. A gesture of goodwill can go a long way in showing the customer that you value their business and are willing to make things right. Additionally, this can encourage the customer to give your business another chance and possibly even leave a positive review after the issue has been resolved.
Here are some specific suggestions for offering a solution or compensation when responding to negative Google reviews:
Be proactive: When offering a solution or compensation, be proactive and suggest a specific course of action. This can show the customer that you are committed to making things right and can help to prevent the situation from escalating.
Be fair: When offering compensation, make sure that it is fair and reasonable. Consider the severity of the issue and what the customer may be expecting. Such amounts should have already been built into your profit margins.
Be clear: Clearly outline what you are offering and what the customer can expect. This can help to manage expectations and prevent any misunderstandings.
Follow through: If you offer a solution or compensation, make sure that you follow through on your promise. This can help to rebuild trust with the customer and show that you are committed to making things right.
Remember, offering a solution or compensation is not always necessary or appropriate in every situation. Use your judgement and consider the severity of the issue before making any offers. By handling negative reviews in a professional and empathetic manner, you can turn a negative experience into a positive one and build stronger relationships with your customers.
Tip 9: Follow up, follow up, follow up!
After resolving the customer’s issue, it’s important to follow up with them to show that you value their business and want to ensure their satisfaction. You can reach out to them via email, phone call, or private message to thank them for bringing the issue to your attention and for giving you the opportunity to make it right. Then, ask if they would be willing to update their review to reflect their positive experience or remove it altogether. Be sure to express your gratitude for their time and effort in doing so. This shows that you care about feedback and take the necessary steps to address it, and it can also help to improve your online reputation.
Additional tips for following up with a customer after resolving a negative review include:
Be timely: Follow up with the customer as soon as possible after resolving the issue to reinforce your commitment to their satisfaction.
Personalize the follow-up: Reference the specifics of the issue and resolution in your follow-up message to show that you paid attention to their concerns.
Ask for feedback: Ask the customer for feedback on their experience with the resolution to gain insight and show that you value their opinion.
Here is an example of a follow-up response:
Full example of a possible response to a bad review
Remember, the natural response when reading a negative review is to respond emotionally – and we don’t blame you. However, remember that will only be detrimental to your business’s reputation as even if your response was justified, customers can view it as unprofessional.
Follow the above steps when responding to negative Google reviews and you can effectively diffuse any tensions and bad vibes and restore confidence and trust in your brand.
Also in 2023, customers are looking for brands that are inclusive, diverse, and socially responsible. You should audit your approach and assess whether it reaches a broad audience and avoids potential biases in responses and customer service.
Here is a full example of what you can focus on what you can do when responding to a bad Google review. Feel free to personalize it and show your business’ personality.
Can you delete negative Google reviews?
Negative Google reviews can damage your online reputation and affect your business performance so you might want to delete it ASAP instead.
If you have received a negative review that is fake, inappropriate, or violates Google’s policies, you may want to delete it as soon as possible.
However, deleting a negative Google review is not easy. You cannot simply delete it yourself. You have to either contact Google and request them to remove it, or contact the reviewer and ask them to delete it.
Here are some steps you can follow to try to delete a negative Google review:
- Flag the review as inappropriate. You can do this by logging in to your Google My Business page, selecting the listing that you want to manage, clicking on “Reviews”, finding the review that you want to flag, clicking on the three vertical dots on the right side of the review, and selecting “Flag as inappropriate”. This will notify Google that the review may violate its policies and prompt them to investigate it. However, this does not guarantee that Google will delete the review. It may take several days or weeks for Google to respond, and they may decide that the review does not warrant removal.
- Contact Google and ask them to delete the review. If flagging the review does not work, you can try contacting Google directly and explaining why you think the review should be deleted. You can do this by filling out this form: You will need to provide your business name, location, contact information, a link to the review, and a reason why you think it should be removed. You will also need to provide evidence that supports your claim, such as screenshots of fake profiles or messages from customers who confirm that they did not write the review. Again, this does not guarantee that Google will delete the review. They will evaluate your request and decide whether it meets their criteria for removal.
- Contact the reviewer and ask them to delete or edit their review. If neither flagging nor contacting Google works, you can try reaching out to the reviewer directly and asking them politely if they would consider deleting or editing their negative feedback ⁴. You can do this by replying publicly to their review on your Google My Business page or sending them a private message if they have provided their contact details. You should explain why you think their review is unfair or inaccurate and offer them a solution or an incentive (such as a discount or a refund) if appropriate. However, you should avoid being rude or aggressive as this may backfire and make them more angry or defensive.
Deleting a negative Google review is not impossible but it is challenging. It requires patience and persistence from your side. However, sometimes deleting a negative review is not necessary or advisable.
Instead of focusing on removing bad reviews, you should focus on generating more positive reviews from your happy customers. This will help you improve your online reputation and outweigh any negative feedback.
In conclusion, responding to negative reviews on Google is not only a necessity but also an opportunity. It can help you improve your customer service, your online reputation, and your business performance. By following the tips we shared in this post, you can turn unhappy customers into loyal fans and attract more potential customers who trust your brand.
However, responding to negative reviews is not enough. You also need to optimize your website and content for multisearch, support underrepresented voices and communities, and create engaging content that captures customers’ attention.
Consider working with a marketing agency
If you want to stay ahead of the curve and grow your business faster, you need a professional marketing agency like Grow Faster Marketing. By partnering with Grow Faster Marketing, you can rest assured that your online reputation is in good hands. Our team of experienced marketers can monitor your reviews, respond promptly and professionally, and implement effective strategies for managing negative feedback. We can help you maintain a positive online reputation and improve customer trust and loyalty, ultimately leading to more sales and revenue for your business.
Also, when responding to reviews, it is possible to optimize them such that they can improve your business ranking on Google.
Don’t let negative reviews hold you back. Contact us today and let us help you turn them into positive outcomes and growth opportunities!
Table of Contents
TLDR? We got you covered here.
Easy. Respond promptly, stay professional, and understand the customer’s experience before responding. Offer a solution or compensation if possible, and follow up with the customer after resolving the issue.
Depending on the review, you might be able to do so if it violates Google guidelines. Refer to our guide above.
Otherwise, deleting negative reviews is not recommended as it may give the impression that you are trying to hide something. Instead, respond to the review in a professional manner and offer a solution if possible.
Yes, responding to negative reviews in a professional and empathetic manner can show potential customers that you value feedback and are willing to take steps to improve the customer experience.
Having keywords in those responses can also help Google understand what your business is about, but the focus should be on customer service.
Easier said than done…but do provide excellent customer service, listen to customer feedback, and take steps to address any issues or complaints promptly.
And accept that negative reviews are part and parcel of business and the aim is to delight and please the customers for long-term success. Make lemons out of lemonade!
Yes, a professional marketing agency like Grow Faster Marketing can provide expert guidance and support in managing negative reviews, as well as helping to improve your overall online reputation and customer experience.
We will aim to collect as many reviews as possible through a systemic process and respond to each and every one based on your brand voice and approach. The good ones will overshadow the inevitable bad ones and boost your Google ranking and get you into the coveted Google 3-pack.
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