Google has invested a lot of time and effort into providing directory services for small business and, more importantly, small business customers. By Googling an industry and a location, potential consumers can learn just about anything about any area business falling into the parameters of a search. Google My Business has only intensified this, making it easier than ever to search for businesses of all shapes and sizes. However, one of the most popular features of Google’s business listings is, of course, the ability to leave reviews. Here’s what you need to know about Google reviews and how to respond.
What Are Google Reviews?
Much like Yelp! or Angie’s List, Google provides a way for customers to leave reviews. There’s no special sign-up process; anyone with a Google account can leave reviews without any other kind of verification. As such, Google reviews are highly common, with most popular business garnering dozens of reviews, both positive and negative alike. Google, like most major review sites, also allows verified business owners to respond to reviews, creating a dialogue between consumers and companies that opens the door to future interactions.
In some cases, the ability to respond to reviews can be highly beneficial. With a response, it’s possible to thank customers for leaving kind words, offer a discount or sales promotion to unhappy customers, or apologize for a poor experience. However, not all business owners take this approach, instead choosing to get defensive or angry when met with critical remarks.
The Reality of Reviews
Customers leave reviews for all kinds of reasons, but in general, they come in one of two forms: excellent or terrible. Few customers who have an average experience are inclined to leave a review, which explains why reviews tend to swing in such extremes. As a business owner, these can be very important tools, highlighting both the best and worst of customer experiences. While some negative reviews will be things out of your control, both categories of reviews can provide valuable insight into the trends, products, or service options that are resonating with your customers — or, worse, falling flat.
Regardless of the trends you see in your reviews, it’s important to be aware that all reviews stem from the experiences you provide to your customers. No business is going to satisfy every customer all the time, but the base of every review you receive starts with you. Yes, customers will complain about petty things, some of which, like road construction outside your store, for example, that you can’t remedy, but any reference to the quality of products or services provided primarily depends on you and you alone.
Responding to Reviews
If customers leave reviews on your Google profile, whether for better or for worse, it’s only natural to feel inclined to respond, either to set the record straight or show appreciation for a good review. Doing so can be a good choice, and there are numerous benefits of doing so, including:
- A way to market yourself in a positive light
- The ability to apologize to customers in an effort to soften poor experiences
- An opportunity to thank customers and build loyalty
- A way to encourage future customers to leave reviews
- An additional way to build a community among customers
Before you take to your keyboard, however, be sure to keep these tips in mind.
Think Before You Type
Keyboard warriors are everywhere, from Yelp! to Reddit, but that doesn’t mean you should join their ranks. It’s certainly tempting to give an angry customer a piece of your mind, particularly if you disagree with the provided feedback. Do everything in your power to refrain. Providing a scathing retort may feel good in the moment, but it’s unlikely to do any favors for your reputation. Retaliating or talking down to customers almost universally hurts, not helps. Angry or condescending responses only serve to make you look petty and immature.
Before responding to a comment, take time to think rationally about the words in front of you. If possible, attempt to recall the scenario presented. Is it possible that the checkout person really was rude or that your technicians provided sub-par service? It’s only natural to feel defensive about negative reviews, but it’s best to take customers’ words at face value. If they say they had a poor experience, they most likely did. There’s no need to argue; simply accept the situation for what it is and take the feedback into consideration for the future.
If you’re responding to a negative review, it’s important to let your actions speak for you. You can say you’re sorry all day, but unless you do something about it, your words are going to sound empty and meaningless. Instead, find a way to correct the problem, whether that means pledging to commit to more regular refresher training to ensure better performance or offering incentives for those who reach out to you. When customers see that you care about righting wrongs, they’ll be more likely to give you a second chance.
Say Thank You
Are your customers leaving largely positive reviews? Be sure to say thank you. Thanking your customers can be an integral part of maintaining loyalty among those who shop with you. A kind response that says you care about customer experiences and are grateful for a purchase can build loyalty, making your buyers more likely to stick with you rather than checking out the competition.
Replying to reviews left on your Google My Business page can be a positive step for your business — but only if you take the right approach. By staying logical and rational, using your reply as a way to build credibility and loyalty, and making amends when necessary, you can improve your reputation both online and in the real world.
Building a proper marketing strategy isn’t easy, but the right approach to everything from Google reviews to social media can make a big difference. If you want to be sure you’re getting started on the right foot, RivalMind is here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our digital marketing services.