How to deal with bad reviews on Google

Testimonials and reviews are a powerful tool. Not just to brands, but to the customer, too. Knowing how other customers have fared after purchase can help quash any doubts or confirm what they already suspect. 

The importance of Google Reviews

Around 93% of consumers read customer reviews before making a decision about a local business and 40% will only need 1-3 reviews to form that decision. Brands know this. It’s common practise to use reviews and testimonials as part of a marketing strategy – but only the positive ones, obviously (and the customer knows this). 

Most customers need a little more convincing. What if the reviews are fake? What if most of the reviews a brand has received are actually negative and they’re just parading the 3 good ones? This is why Google is a go-to platform for getting the whole picture about a business. You can always trust Google Reviews to provide raw, unfiltered information on the actual customer experience. 

You want people talking about your brand on Google Reviews – good or bad. If it’s a good review – great! Other people are going to read it and probably get the confidence to buy, too. If it’s a bad review – well, at least you now know where the kinks are to iron out. 

Although they might be a bit hard to swallow, bad reviews are not the worst thing for your brand. It’s expected for brands to have a couple of negative reviews, in fact it’s suspicious if there are none. Around 68% of consumers are more trusting of reviews when both positive and negative ones are present. 

What’s critical is how your brand chooses to react (we talk about this in another blog about how to deal with bad reviews on Facebook).

6 tips for responding to a bad Google review

  1. Don’t freak out
  2. Make sure your business is verified on Google

Only verified businesses can reply to Google Reviews. It’s best to get this done early on to avoid any delays in customer support. Learn how to add or claim your business on Google My Business here.

  1. Acknowledge the complaint

Customers need to be assured that they’ve been heard. Clearly and politely communicate that you recognise that expectations have not been met and that efforts will be made to rectify the issue. Ignoring the complaint will only indicate to customers a lack of care and will damage your brand’s image. 

  1. Choose your words carefully

Avoid language that makes your brand appear disinterested, insincere or too defensive. Doing so could escalate the problem and put both existing and prospective clients off your brand.

  1. Say thank you

The customer has given you an opportunity to respond (and hopefully fix the issue). That’s a positive! Thanking the customer for bringing the issue to attention and for their patience will help to take some of the focus off the problem and helps make the customer feel good about themselves. 

  1. Take it offline

While a public response will show other customers that your brand cares and has a support system in place, how you make it up to the customer and any further correspondence does not need to be public. Offer your company’s contact information to resolve the issue discreetly. This will make the customer feel heard and that the matter is being taken seriously and dealt with as a priority, and in turn will help make your brand appear more personable and human.

How to flag inappropriate reviews to Google for removal

Hiding or deleting reviews on Google is not a thing. Even if it was, it’s better to practise good customer service and make the effort to resolve the issue. However, if the review doesn’t comply with Google’s policies, you can flag the review for Google to remove. What constitutes an inappropriate review includes, but is not limited to:

  • spam and fake content posted with the intent to manipulate a place’s ratings; 
  • off-topic content that is not based on an actual experience at the location; 
  • reviews posted from current or former employees about their own employment experiences or about competitors; or
  • reviews containing offensive, illegal or threatening material. 

The following video is a guide on how to flag inappropriate reviews for removal.

Something to keep in mind is that Google doesn’t get involved when businesses and customers disagree about facts, since there’s no reliable way to discern who’s right or wrong. In other words, you can’t report a genuine review about a bad customer experience to Google just because you don’t like it or disagree with the customer.

Can you ask the customer to remove their Google Review?

Yes and no.

Google has a rule about discouraging or prohibiting negative reviews or selectively soliciting positive reviews from customers – don’t do it.

If the review is negative, but genuine, it’s in your brand’s best interest to try and resolve the issue with the customer. If you’re successful, the customer may even update or remove the review on their own accord. Win!

If the review does not comply with Google’s policies, you could ask the user (politely) to remove their review and advise which of Google’s policies it has violated. This demonstrates to customers that you are proactive in your customer support and brand management, which encourages users to leave genuine reviews only. If the review is not removed, you can then flag the review to Google for removal and advise the user you have done so. Keep in mind that it can take several days for Google to review your request to remove a flagged review. 

How to get more Google reviews (and simultaneously boost your SEO)

Invite customers to leave a review

Your business’ Google review count and review score factors into local search rankings, so the more reviews and scores you receive from customers, the better. Your chances of receiving reviews from your customers go up when you ask! However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s against Google Policy to offer or accept money or incentives in exchange for reviews as well as discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers. What you can do is create a short URL from your Google My Business dashboard which directs customers to your Google My Business page to leave a review. You can then share this link to your website, social media profiles or post-transactional platforms such as follow-up eDMs. Learn how to create this link for customers to leave reviews at, here

Update your Google My Business info

Help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches by claiming your business in Google Search and Maps and ensure that your information in Google My Business is accurate, complete, and engaging. 

The following video is a guide on how to update your Google My Business information.

Need advice about managing your online platforms? We’re happy to help! Get in touch with NOUS at [email protected] or call 07 3003 0722.

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