The Best Way to Handle Bad Google Reviews

Small business owners often pour their hearts and souls into their businesses. As a result, it can be difficult not to take negative reviews personally, which leads a lot of business owners to respond inappropriately. Don’t be mad, don’t be sad, and don’t ignore them no matter what you do!

To respond to negative reviews on Google, follow these three steps.

Bad reviews: Why do people leave them?

It may seem obvious-people leave bad reviews because they’re unhappy with your business. But let’s take a step back and discuss this more because by understanding why people leave bad reviews, you can prevent them in the future.

They don’t want to leave negative reviews for small businesses in their community; they want them to thrive! In general, people leave bad reviews on Google because they feel it’s their only recourse, even though there are outliers who like to complain about seemingly everything (and you’ve probably dealt with a few of those people as a business owner!).

Negative reviews can be avoided

A sizeable number of unfavorable reviews on Google Business Profiles are connected to poor communication. Make sure to respond swiftly to clients and prospects, especially if they seem displeased. If you’re away from the office and unable to answer immediately, put up an autoresponder in your email, record a voicemail telling people when they can anticipate a response, or allow someone else to take care of correspondence for you.

Whenever a customer has an issue, give them the opportunity to tell you right away. Send a follow-up email asking them to let you know about their concerns as soon as possible. Taking care of disappointed customers immediately won’t make them feel as compelled to leave you a negative review if you’re able to handle them well.

The simple truth is that if someone is nice, it’s much harder for us to write a bad review on their Google Business Profile. Be courteous and kind, even if your customers don’t feel the same way. You will benefit from it in the long run in terms of your online reputation.

Negative Google reviews: How to respond

Even if you’re doing your best to go above and beyond, it’s inevitable that you’ll get a negative review at some point. When researching businesses, people tend to be skeptical of businesses with only glowing reviews. (Hey, maybe that one bad review isn’t that bad after all?)

You may want to bury your head in the proverbial sand and avoid dealing with your negative review, but this is the worst thing you can do—well, second only to responding in a blind rage. The best way to redeem yourself in the eyes of potential customers is to offer a professional reply.

The steps are as follows:

  • If you haven’t claimed your Google Business Profile, make sure you are registered with Google as a business owner.
  • Sign in to your Google Business Profile.
  • Simply select Respond and Review.

How to respond to negative Google reviews

Here’s what we tell our clients to do when someone has negative things to say about their business:

Be quick to respond…

Take a deep breath and consider what the review says before responding.

You want to wait until your heart isn’t racing and your blood pressure is a bit lower before responding to that bad review for the first time. A thoughtful response to every negative review will teach you more about your business than hundreds of positive ones.

Complaint acknowledged

Acknowledge and understand their issue, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. If you’ve read some parenting books over the years, you probably know how important it is to acknowledge what someone says, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. Our restaurant may, for example, acknowledge your concerns about how it is handling COVID-19 protocols by stating: “I understand you felt our crew was unprofessional,” “Thank you for your feedback about our scheduling process,” or “I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge your concerns.”

My apologies

Being the bigger person isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t feel good when you believe you were right, but you should always apologize. In spite of the fact that apologizing to the difficult client who changed his mind and blamed you for it or who was rude to your staff might kill your soul a little bit, you will look gracious to potential clients if you offer a sincere (or sincere-sounding) apology.

We suggest taking the discussion offline

If possible, try to move any back-and-forth communication away from your Google Business Profile and into an email or telephone conversation. Usually, an acknowledgment and apology are enough to diffuse a situation, but some people are determined to win an argument at all costs, and they never hesitate to beat a dead horse to death. 

Also, when you take the discussion offline, your unhappy customer is dealing with you directly, rather than just venting their complaint on the internet; a one-on-one conversation with another human being is more likely to lead to a reasoned response. You have a stake in your online reputation, and you can’t easily remove any things from the internet that you regret.

Resolve the issue by taking action

Don’t ask the customer what you can do to make things right because they may have something in mind that isn’t feasible or fair, such as a full refund or free products or services. The client might appreciate a partial refund or a redo of work if you’re prepared to do so. In the event your customer comes up with a resolution that is not one you can fulfill, it may escalate the situation further if you leave it up to them.

Bad Google reviews: How to remove them

If you want to get rid of bad reviews, you should only deal with ones that are not from actual customers. If you believe a series of bad online reviews are part of a negative SEO campaign, if a review was mistakenly left on your Google Business Profile (perhaps for a business with a similar name), or if the review does not apply to your goods or services, you can take steps to have it removed.

To get rid of a bad review, flag it for Google to review.

If Google doesn’t take action after flagging a review you want to be removed, contact Google support. If you want the review removed, you must have a valid reason; simply disagreeing with negative customer feedback isn’t enough. In order for the review to be removed, it needs to be irrelevant or invalid, not just unfavorable.

Flood your business with good reviews. Don’t bother hiring a company to post artificial comments – they’ll only weaken your credibility and aren’t worth the effort. Rather, reach out to former satisfied customers via email and make it a custom to ask for reviews when you finish a project.

Negative feedback can teach you a lot

Bad Google reviews are no different. Instead of viewing these reviews as negative feedback, see them as important customer feedback that can help you improve your business.

If you’re finding that customers are making similar, negative comments about your business, it’s likely time to take a closer look and make some improvements. Have you been late for appointments? Has your crew left messes in clients’ homes? Was the receptionist rude? While hearing criticism can be tough, using it to improve the customer experience is the best way to ensure you won’t keep getting similar reviews.

As you respond to bad reviews on your Google Business Profile, you have something else to share. If you are learning how to respond to negative Google reviews, one of the best responses you can give is, “Based on your feedback, we’ve made the following changes to our business practices.”

You’ll be collecting positive reviews sooner than you think! It shows the unhappy customer that your business takes their complaint seriously, and it also shows potential customers that they don’t have to worry about the same issues when using your services.

Need Help with SEO and Google Reviews?

Boulevard Digital Marketing specializes in SEO and Google profile optimization. Contact us for SEO management services that position your business for growth.