Customer reviews can seriously impact your business’s reputation and your customers’ decisions. And with Google holding 92% of the market share, you can rest assured that Google reviews carry a lot of clout.
But it’s not just the review that matters. 97% of people who read reviews also read responses (and people spend 50% more with businesses that respond to reviews).
That’s why it’s so important to know how to respond to Google reviews.
But don’t worry. By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll feel well-equipped to respond to any Google review that comes your way–good or bad.
Why do you need to respond to Google reviews?
To answer this question, let’s go over some online review stats:
- 84% of people weigh online reviews the same as they would a recommendation from family or friends.
- 40% of consumers expect a review response within 24 hours or less.
- Businesses that respond to reviews are perceived as 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses that don’t.
The good news is that while you can’t control what other people say about your business on Google, you can control the impact these reviews have on your business—simply by responding to them.
So, read on and learn how to respond to both positive and negative reviews on Google so your business’s online reputation remains impeccable.
How to respond to negative Google reviews
Every customer has their own preferences, expectations, desires, and wishes. In a perfect world, you would satisfy every customer, but in the real world, you can’t; and in the digital world, anyone can publish an online review of your business.
The good news is that if you go about responding to a negative review the right way, you can mitigate the damage, preserve your business reputation, and potentially even turn it into a positive review.
Here’s how to respond to Google reviews that aren’t so positive.
Step back and assess
While prompt response time to Google reviews is important, it’s okay (and highly recommended) to take a breather to process the information and your emotions first. High emotions can sometimes lead to missed details, and you want to be responding, not reacting.
Remember to breathe! Your business means a lot to you so it’s hard to not take it personally, but this is not about you, it’s about the customer.
Be the customer. If you were in their situation, how would you feel? What would resolve the problem? This will help your response to strengthen the integrity of your brand and values.
After a little reflection, come up with a couple of different solutions. If you have them ready to go before you respond, you can offer options if the first resolution doesn’t work out.
Find the root of the problem
This does not mean finding out who to blame but rather finding out where the breakdown occurred. Learn the details and explain the breakdown to your customer so they know you care enough to look into the issue.
It will also help you to come up with the most effective solution, as well as prevent it from happening again with other customers.
This is especially useful when someone leaves a short negative review without many details, like in this situation.
Apologize promptly and publicly
Regardless of what went wrong and why, always apologize concisely (long explanations can come off as defensive) and promptly (to show that you care).
This initial response should take place right on Google (we’ll walk through this process in a bit). This will show both your customers and prospects that you’re proactive with your customer service; and also gives your business transparency.
Transparency is always a good policy when dealing with negative Google reviews. If you or one of your staff made a mistake (it happens!), explain what happened. It shows the reviewer that you’re willing and able to correct the situation. It also lets other readers know they won’t likely deal with the same negative situation if they choose your business.
Offer a solution
Let’s be honest. Some people write negative reviews to get something off of their chest. But many customers are just looking for a resolution to a problem.
For example, if a customer was inconvenienced by the wrong information on your business listings, you could offer to make their next visit much smoother and save them time.
“It sounds like we missed the mark on delivering a great customer service experience to you, and we’re sorry about that. We have had a lot of confusion about our store hours changing, and we recently updated our Google Business listing to our new hours of operation. We hope that helps for your next visit, but please feel free to call us at 555-1234 and we’d be happy to assist you in placing a curbside order that we’ll bring right to your car so you don’t have to rush to make it in after work.”
Are your business listings correct and up to date? Use our free Listings Grader to check your business listing information across 20+ of the top online directories, including Google and Facebook.
Take it offline
In some Google review responses, you can resolve the issue right in your response. But most of the time, you should provide the opportunity for the customer to reach you directly, off of Google.
It’s in this conversation that you can offer your explanation and your solution. It’s also perfectly fine to reach out to them directly but be sure to include some sort of mention of this in your public response.
Sign your name
When we’ve had a bad experience with a company, it’s easy to forget that there are people behind the Google accounts. Give the Google reviewer your name and ask them to contact you directly. That’ll not only remind them they’re working with a human, but it’ll ease their mind that they won’t have to explain everything to someone new.
Get more positive reviews
You won’t be able to satisfy every bad reviewer. But you can make sure your rating stays high and keep an overwhelming number of reviews positive.
Here are 22 ways to ask for reviews, including some handy templates.
Speaking of templates: These small business email templates will help you get more reviews, book more appointments, and create a better experience for your customers.
How to respond to positive reviews on Google
While not as dicey as responding to negative reviews, it does pay to have a plan and a few tactics to make sure your responses leave both the reviewer and other readers full of warm and fuzzies.
Respond quickly to feedback if possible. It shows you’re paying attention.
But if you fall behind, it’s okay! We’re all human. Give a quick explanation like this one.
Match the reviewer’s vibe
Have you ever heard the notion that you should copy the body language of someone to get them to like you? The same holds true for reviews. This business owner responds with the same energy as their customer, making the whole interaction better.
Expressing gratitude in Google reviews reaffirms that your business is gracious and welcoming. It also lets readers know that you value and invite customer feedback.
Invite them to return
Return customers are worth their weight in gold (that’s why loyalty programs are so popular). When someone leaves a positive review, they’re riding a wave of positive feelings about your business. That’s the perfect time to get them back for another visit.
And if possible, maybe sweeten the pot with a small discount or other incentive. That could encourage other customers to also leave positive reviews. Just be careful you’re not “paying” for reviews since that could lead to distrust.
Try responding to a Google review like this:
“Thank you for taking the time to review our business, Anwar. We’d love to see you in our office again.”
Avoid using generic statements. Tailor your response to the specific things called out in each Google review.
You can mention something about the reviewer’s visit or the service they received as this replier did.
Reinforce the positive
Confirming a customer’s positive experience in your response is a great way to reinforce the aspect of your business that your customer is highlighting.
For example, if a customer mentions the speed of service in their review, you might respond with:
“We are so glad to hear that you had a great experience with us. We train hard to make sure our team operates efficiently—glad to know it’s working!”
You don’t want to be salesy in replies, so it’s best not to simply suggest buying more things. But if you have a new product or service coming out, it’s fair game to mention them in a review. That’s helpful information that the reviewer may not get otherwise.
Your update doesn’t have to be in-depth. Just a quick mention like this is plenty.
“We’re glad you were happy with our product! We’ve got an even better version coming out in March…stay tuned!”
Keep it short
Remember, you’re not just replying to the reviewer, but to anyone who scans your business’s Google reviews. So unless you’re answering a specific question that needs more space, keep your reviews short and to the point. That’ll make it easier for skimmers to soak in the positive vibes from several reviews quickly.
Ask for a referral
If someone leaves a stellar review, they want to share their good experience with others. Now’s a great time to ask for a personal referral to friends and family. And if you have a referral program, this is a great opportunity to mention it.
Try a reply like this to get that word-of-mouth network going
“Alicia, I can’t thank you enough for the kind words. We work in your neighborhood a lot and would be thrilled to offer you and any neighbors you refer us to a 10% discount.”
How to reply to reviews on Google
Whenever you get a review on Google, you have the option of responding to it. The process is simple. We’ll explain how to do it from a desktop, from mobile, and via maps.
Before you get started, make sure you’ve claimed your Google Business Profile. You’ll need that to submit replies.
Don’t stop there, though. After we explain the process, we’ll break down how to respond to all sorts of reviews to get the best outcome.
How to respond to Google reviews on desktop
- Head to your Google Business Profile and sign in.
- Click Read reviews.
- Scroll to find the review you’d like to respond to and click
- Type your response in the message box.
- Click reply and viola! You have a happier customer.
How to respond to Google reviews on Mobile
- Open your choice of either the Google Search or Google Maps app.
- On Maps, tap Business in the lower right. On Search, enter your business name in the search bar.
- Tap reviews
- Find the review you want to respond to and tap Reply
- Enter your response and tap Reply
Want more exposure on the world’s busiest search engine? Here’s a list of 20 ways to make your website more visible on Google.
How to deal with fake reviews
Fake reviews are an all-too-common fact of life for businesses. Whether they’re from robo-reviewers, competitors, or people just looking to ding businesses for fun (that doesn’t seem fun but, whatever), fake reviews can hurt your business.
Unfortunately, you can’t just delete suspected fake reviews on your own. But you can ask Google to review it and if the review goes against their guidelines, they’ll remove it for you.
To flag a review:
- Go to Google Business Profile Help
- Tap Request review for removal and verify your account
- Select which Google Business Profile you want to remove the review from
- Tap Report a review for removal and choose which review you want to report
If Google doesn’t remove the review, you can also contact a Google representative directly to plead your case. If all else fails, try asking the reviewer to take it down. It’s possible they placed it there by mistake.
FAQs about how to respond to Google reviews
Like a good review response, we want to make sure we’ve answered all your questions.
Can I respond to Google reviews?
Yes! You can respond directly through your Google Business Profile.
Can a business owner remove Google reviews?
No, a business owner cannot remove a Google review. They can flag the review as fake or inappropriate and ask Google to remove it. They can also ask the original poster to remove a review if they’ve adequately resolved the complaint or issue.
Can you block someone from leaving a Google review?
No, you cannot block someone from leaving a review about your business on Google. You also cannot hide Google reviews.
Make it a priority to respond to your Google business reviews
We covered a lot in this guide, so let’s do a quick recap:
- Your responses to Google reviews are just as powerful as the reviews themselves. They give prospective customers a feel for what you’re like, they encourage more customers to leave reviews, and they can even turn negative situations into positive ones.
- Responding to Google customer reviews helps you to stay on top of your online reputation, make improvements where necessary, and identify strengths to harness.
- You need a Google Business Profile in order to respond to your Google reviews.
- Take special care when responding to negative reviews. Respond publicly but then offer to take the discussion offline.
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