Why responding to Google Reviews is essential (and how to do it right).

Responding to Google Reviews is good for SEO and good for client relationships. But sometimes it can be tricky figuring out exactly what to say, especially if you’re replying to a negative review. But we’ve got you covered.

Responding to Google Reviews is one of the best things you can do for your online presence—and there are four major benefits to replying:

  • It’ll help boost your search rankings.
  • You’ll build trust with clients and prospects.
  • A wide audience will see you pay attention to your customers.
  • It allows you to reflect and change the way you do things.

In fact, here it is straight from the horse’s mouth. Google says you should “Engage with your customers by replying to their reviews. Responding will show you value your customers’ feedback. Engagement and positive reviews from your customers may improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”

But knowing exactly what to say and how to say it can be tricky. If it’s a positive review, you want to make sure your thank you message comes across as authentic and enthusiastic.

When responding to negative feedback, you don’t want to appear defensive or emotional—you want the world to know that you appreciate it when people share their thoughts, whatever they are (well, unless you’re one of these guys).

Rocket Referrals COO Carl Maerz has put a lot of thought into customer-facing communications—and has completed huge amounts of message testing throughout the years. I turned to him to find out how he recommends business owners should respond to Google Reviews.

Before we hear from Carl… do you know HOW to respond to reviews?

The first thing you’re going to need is access to your Google My Business profile. If you have it, you can start responding to reviews right away. If not, just follow these steps to claim your business.  

Once you’ve got your Google My Business profile up and running, you can find the Reviews tab in the left-hand navbar. From there you can see which reviews you’ve responded to and which ones you haven’t.  

Agencies should respond to reviews within a week.

The review-response mindset.

“When an agent responds to a review it paints a clear picture of what it would be like for someone to do business with them,” says Carl. “Are they positive, thoughtful and caring? Or are they negative and spiteful?”

“By only responding to the bad ones a prospect may feel like clients only get attention when they complain about something. That’s not the impression you want to give. Timing is also important. Agencies should respond to reviews within a week.”

What’s the best way to respond to a positive review?

“Make the client feel special,” says Carl. “For example, say you appreciate their positivity, humor or warm nature. This is your opportunity to show the internet that you value clients as individuals.” Here’s a quick blueprint for what you can say:

  • Thank the client.
  • Give them a compliment personalized to them.
  • Show you read their comment carefully by echoing some of what they said to you back to them.
  • Give them a personalized way to contact you if it seems they have more feedback they’d like to share.
  • Keep it short. You don’t have to write something long for it to have a positive impact.

With this blueprint in mind, here’s an example of a five-star review, and a response you could give:

Example review:

“Met with Michael today to move my existing ABC insurance policy from another state to Iowa. He took time to go over my current coverage, help identify any opportunities to make changes, and he ensured I was able to access everything through their app. Professional, kind and didn’t try to push any unnecessary purchases. He followed up with me after our visit and even gave some restaurant recommendations since I’m new to the area. Very pleased with our visit and I look forward to working with this agency for a long time.”

Example response:

“Thanks, Steve. Really appreciate the fantastic review. It was a pleasure helping you make sure everything was transferred correctly, and I’m glad you were able to get a handle on the app. Also, hope you enjoy Fong’s Pizza. It’s one of the team’s favorites.”

What’s the best way to respond to a negative comment?

Carl says “Don’t make it an argument but point out any obvious mischaracterizations of your agency if necessary. But remember that your answer will be seen by the entire world, so don’t get defensive.”

Here are a few things to consider when responding to negative feedback:

  • Thank them for taking the time to leave a review—even the bad ones are valuable to have.
  • Make sure to show them you are listening (and hearing what they are saying).
  • Offer a solution and a way forward, but don’t get into the specifics of their situation.
  • If they were disappointed by something missing from your service, let them know what updates are coming.
  • Give them a personalized way to contact you. It means that if they feel moved, they can continue the conversation, giving you an opportunity to correct whatever went wrong.

Example review:

“Customer service here is terrible. ABC Insurance has an awful attitude. They’re much more concerned with upselling you on something you don’t want or need than they are about your insurance issues. Get ready to spend an unreasonable amount of time on hold.”

Example response:

“Hi, Diane. Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback. I’m sorry you were on hold for so long.

This feedback will help us improve, and we’ll make sure to find out exactly why this happened.

I’m also very sorry you didn’t get the best service possible with us. It’s our policy to try and match the right products to the individual. We’ll research your exact situation and update training as necessary.

We’re always available to chat if you have anything else you’d like to share. Email 123@ABCinsurance.com so we can set up some time to talk. Thanks again for the feedback.”  

The most important thing to remember about negative reviews.

Carl says you shouldn’t be overly concerned about one or two negative reviews.

“The truth is, prospects expect some reviews to be negative. Believe it or not, having some negative reviews actually strengthens your online credibility. It makes all the positive reviews seem much more authentic and credible. Especially when you respond authentically.”

And if you’re consistent in your response to negative reviews, you increase your chances of people taking a second look and altering their score upward.

What’s the best way to respond to an irrelevant comment?

An “irrelevant comment” is anything that appears spammy or misplaced… it could be that the reviewer mistook your business for someone else. Or it could be that you’re being targeted by a troll.

Treat these in the same way as negative reviews and offer to help if it’s appropriate.

Example response:

Hi John, I wanted to research your situation, so I had a look at our records. However, I couldn’t find you listed as one of our customers. Give us a call at 555-123-4567 or send an email to 123@ABCinsurance.com so we can get your issues resolved.

Still, it might be worth looking into deleting rogue reviews if they become an issue. Check out HubSpot’s article on How to Delete Google Reviews (& What to Do If You Can’t).

But that’s not something we recommend you get too trigger happy about. Remember, people do expect to see a couple negative reviews.

Set your review gathering strategy on autopilot.

Rocket Referrals increases the number of promoters an agency has—that is, the people who are most likely to give you positive feedback and refer their friends, family and co-workers. We then automatically ask them to give Google and Facebook reviews at a time they’re most likely to do so.

Set up a one-on-one demo today, and we’ll walk you through our process.

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