You’ve created a Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) for your company or brand, but now you’ve received a negative review! While you might think the best response is no response at all, we recommend these tips for handling the rare bad Google review — and keep your customers coming back to your business despite them. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about responding to negative Google reviews and maintaining a good reputation.
If you are on the fence about setting up a Google Business Profile or are worried about getting negative reviews, we encourage you to not hold your business back. If you run a good, upstanding business, then your good Google reviews will speak for themselves.
So, if you haven’t yet created your own Google Business Profile (GBP), you’ll need to make this a first priority. Some business owners think that they can avoid bad reviews by not creating a GBP, but the truth is that creating your own GBP gives you full control over how your business and marketing is represented online and on Google. It will also provide access to managing your Google reviews.
How NOT to Respond to Bad Google Reviews
Never ignore a bad Google review.
Ignoring a bad review on Google or social media may seem akin to taking the high road, but it actually has the opposite effect. It gives the negative review more visibility by remaining unaddressed. And it leaves potential customers with the impression that the business owner or brand does not care enough to resolve issues with unhappy customers. In addition, ignoring a review can harm your reputation.
Never respond with unprofessional language or an upset tone.
Sometimes negative reviews can be hurtful or even seem spiteful, but never stoop to that level. Remember, these bad reviews — and your responses — will be visible by anyone who searches your business on Google. If the negative review is using inappropriate language or harassment, see our guide to removing the review below.
Never engage in a lengthy back-and-forth dialogue on Google.
Try to respond only one time to Google reviews. If you need to provide a second response, stick to simply offering to chat more with the person offline. Engaging in a back-and-forth argument in an online and public space is never worth it, and that approach will only make you and your business look equally angry and unforgiving.
NOTE: If the upset customer or guest continues to engage in a negative way, it reflects more poorly on the customer than on your business. If the customer uses offensive language or harassment, it may be possible to have the bad review deleted entirely. The general rule of thumb is to only respond to a negatived review twice in a public forum. And in your second response, encourage the person to contact you directly offline.
Always Respond to Negative Google Reviews with a Smile
Most every business or brand will receive a bad review from time to time on Google or social media. As hard as we try to please every customer, sometimes we fail, and that is normal. In fact, receiving negative reviews is often a good thing because it shows you where you have room for both customer service and business improvement. In addition, negative reviews give you the opportunity to be both humble and honest, while making a genuine effort to respond to your customer and make them whole. Take these steps to ensure that your response is professional.
Don’t Wait! Your Business Reputation Is Essential
Once you’ve set up your Google Business listing, you can begin responding to your Google reviews. While it may be tempting to ignore a negative review, HubSpot and Google experts agree that quickly responding to all reviews—both positive and negative—shows your customers that you care about them! You can find software programs to help manage your Google profile and your online reputation. Google will also notify you by email each time you receive a new review.
Check your Google Business Profile daily to make sure that you respond to your reviews quickly and efficiently. The longer it takes you to respond to a bad review, the more likely new customers will see the unexplained negative review.
Turn a Negative Review into a Positive Experience
The best response to a negative review is a positive, honest one. Be yourself but remain calm and positive. Think about the bad review as a way to learn from your customers and improve your business. Remember that your response to a bad Google review is public and will be viewed not only by the unhappy customer, but by potential future customers too!
Your first step is to determine what caused the negative experience for your customer. Check the date of the bad review. (Sometimes the customers tell you when their experience happened.) Then ask your managers and employees about the incident or check in with your own memory to gain insight about what happened. Take the time to see/read/listen between the lines of what you hear from both sides. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.
Tell Your Customer That You Care
With all of the information in hand, you can begin writing your response. You’ll want to acknowledge that your customer is unhappy in a positive way. Even if you disagree about what happened, show your customer that you recognize their feelings to help set the tone for a positive interaction. Remember that people want to feel heard, valued, and understood. Responding in this way covers half the battle. A caring reply also shows all current and prospective customers reading your response that you will care about their experiences at your business too. Plus, it’s just plain good marketing sense.
Show Customers How Your Business Is Always Improving
Next, be honest about your perspective in a calm and professional tone. Maybe the customer expected to be able to dine at your restaurant when it was closed for a holiday. Maybe the customer was expecting a discount code to work at your store past its expiration date. Maybe your business just had an off day—it happens sometimes! Apologize when it is appropriate.
Finally, you can end your response with a solution that works for everyone. How can you turn this unhappy customer into a customer that comes back to your business again and again? Offer to talk about it more offline. Share with the customer that you hope they will come back to buy from you again and give your business another chance.
Be Thankful for the Feedback
This might be hard, but thank them for their Google or social media review. Show your customers that you support them. This lets all of your customers who read the response know that you appreciate their feedback, good and bad, and are always striving to do a better job.
3 Free Examples of Great Responses to Negative Reviews Online
Here are three examples of great responses to negative reviews. Feel free to use these and adjust them for your own business.
- “John, I am sorry to hear that our server was rude to you at dinner. We are always seeking to improve our customer service. I have spoken with our restaurant manager and the server, and we will work together to ensure this does not happen again. Please contact us by e-mail [firstname.lastname@example.org] or phone [xxx-xxxx], because we would be grateful to chat with you directly. We hope you will come back and dine with us again soon! Thank you for this feedback—it helps us to learn how to serve our guests better! -Maria (owner)”
- “Hi Kendall, I noticed that you left a one-star rating without a comment about your experience. We value our customers’ feedback, so I would love the opportunity to chat with you about what happened during your booking experience. Please reach out to me when you have time at [xxx-xxxx]. Best, Tracy (manager)”
- “Dear Priya, Thank you for letting us know about your buying experience. Unfortunately, we cannot accept returns after 30 days. We try to make this policy visible to guests in our stores and on our website to help our customers be prepared. We hope you’ll shop with us again in the future. Best, Samuel”
If you know the customer who left the negative review, take the opportunity to chat with them about it offline before posting a response. You can engage in a compassionate and respectful conversation to understand their situation and offer a solution. If the customer feels better after your interaction, ask if they would consider removing or revising the Google review.
How to Remove Bad Reviews from Your Google Business Profile
Wondering how to delete bad Google reviews? Sometimes, you may receive a spam review or a harassing review. (There are even websites that exist where people can buy negative Google reviews!) When this situation occurs, Google has created a system to flag these bad reviews as spam or harassment for deletion with a few easy steps.
Google will remove flagged reviews if the reviews violate Google’s content policies. Prohibited and restricted content includes the following:
- Civil discourse
- Hate speech
- Offensive content
- Personal information
- Deceptive content
- Fake engagement
- Mature content
- Obscenity & profanity
- Sexually explicit content
- Adult-themed content
- Violence & gore
- Regulated, dangerous & illegal
- Restricted content
- Dangerous content
- Illegal content
- Child safety
- Terrorist content
- Information quality
- Advertising & solicitation
- Gibberish & repetitive content
Sometimes it takes time for Google to remove a bad review, so expect to exercise some patience. The quicker you manage your negative reviews, though, the better for your business. Forbes recommends multiplying your efforts and flag the bad review for removal using all of the Google accounts you have access to. This will help your request get noticed faster. (You can also enlist friends and family members to flag the bad review to delete as well.)
Remember: Google will only delete negative reviews that violate its policies. This means that business owners cannot have real Google reviews removed, no matter how unpleasant they may be.
What to Do After You’ve Received a Negative Google Review
After a client has left a bad review, get more Google reviews! If you do receive a bad Google review that is genuine, the best follow-up activity to circumvent a negative review and boost your star rating is to bury the bad review with new good ones.
Don’t let a few negative Google reviews bring down your overall score. Encourage other happy customers to leave your business a Google review. The more Google reviews your Google Business Profile has, the more likely positive reviews will balance out the negative review. Check out these tips for asking your customers to leave your business Google reviews.
NOTE: Don’t flood your profile by asking everyone all at once to post good reviews. Google will recognize that as inauthentic activity. Instead, earn real positive reviews by continuing to improve your business and asking your customers for their online feedback. Whatever you do, do it in moderation. Depending on your level of business and the frequency that you normally receive reviews, a few new good reviews each day or each week will suffice.
Always Be Authentic When You Respond to Any Review
Support your clients while keeping your reputation management both authentic and organic. Google’s Search Engine Optimization rewards real engagement and punishes bought engagement or anything it might perceive as spam. Make the right decisions for your organization and it will pay off in the long run.
Do you have questions about Google Business Profile or how to best manage your Google reviews?