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How to respond to negative Google reviews

- Carl Maerz is a co-founder of Rocket Referrals.

People love to talk. And when it comes to discussing local businesses, there is perhaps no better stage to articulate their recent experience than Google reviews. After all, a recent study shows that 92% of consumers read reviews online. It certainly gives power back to the consumer. It’s their way of getting the last word. That is, if you let them.

So what happens when they say something bad? Like one-star kind of bad. Eek! Fortunately, Google allows business owners to address and even spin negative feedback to their advantage.

When responding to negative feedback, a business shouldn’t appear defensive or combative. Rather, a polite and patient response will have a more positive impact on the client and the public. Additionally, if possible, the disgruntled client should be contacted directly to resolve the issue. More often than not they’ll openly express gratitude for the response. This also shows onlookers that the business takes care of its clients when problems arise.

Ultimately, your goal is to have the client reverse the feedback themselves. Many times if you address the problem directly the client may change their opinion, and add four more stars to their rating.

But there are occasions when the client just won’t budge. It’s still important for you to have the opportunity to tell your side of the story. You want to show all the onlookers that you take client concerns seriously. Your response should be short and sweet, with the following attributes:

Acknowledge their problem. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. Many times it’s just a misunderstanding that needs clearing up. Either way, let them know that you recognize their concern. Avoid being dismissive or patronizing. Prospects evaluate how you handle your detractors – your response says a lot about how you approach client relationships.

Address inconsistencies without placing blame. If you believe the review is fake (from a competitor, etc.) or just misrepresents your business, then you should say something publicly. Be polite, but make it clear that you disagree with the review. Also, in cases like this, you can contact Google directly (www.google.com/business and ask to have it removed.

Offer to resolve their issue offline. Responding to a bad review should be brief. No need to get into specifics – but you should offer to continue the dialogue further. Mention that you will contact them directly (if possible) and suggest that they could contact you as well. This avoids getting into the mud publicly – so that future people reading the review won’t become engrossed in the details. After you resolve the issue you could ask that the individual remove their review online, or at least follow up with a positive note.

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