So, you got a bad review on Google…

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to please everyone.  Sometimes no matter how hard we try, how nice of a product we deliver, or how much we extend ourselves, a bad review pops up.

In the old days, dissatisfaction was communicated in person, through a suggestion or comment box, or maybe on the phone.  Today, it can be done on the internet in seconds, and hang around to haunt you for years.  While we believe the internet is a great communication tool, sometimes it is used to post things that would never be said face to face or yet worse, inaccurate reviews of products or services.  What can be even more frustrating is that often there is no way to directly contact the person who posted it.

Over the last few weeks we had a couple of clients contact us over situations that were becoming a public relations problem for them.  We thought we would take a minute and share a proven way to handle bad reviews on the web.

As soon as you are notified of a review you should act.

It it’s a positive review, thank the reviewer for their time and positive comments.

If it’s not a positive review, you  still need to act, but be careful to act appropriately.

  1. Respond using the Google Account affiliated with where the review was posted so it identifies you as someone with authority to respond to the review.
  2. If it’s been more than a couple of days since it was posted, start off with an apology for the delayed response.  “Our apologies for the delayed response.  We are fortunate to have a lot going on and have been tied up with the making some improvements to our operations with you in mind. We did not see your review until this morning / this afternoon / etc.”  When responding to Google (or any other complaints) not responding is almost an admission of guilt.  So even if you are late, it shows you are responsive and you care.
  3. Next include a comment welcoming their feedback “Thank you for contacting us….”
  4. An affirmation that their feedback is important as well “We value your comments and the time you took to notify us of this situation…”
  5. Then address the specific issue “I am sorry you had this interaction.  As the owner of “the operation” I can assure you that we take your feedback about…. Very seriously.  The fact that you had this experience is very disturbing and I would like to further investigate it. If we were able to discuss this with you further, we would be able to further address any issue as appropriate.”
  6. Invite them to contact you directly (email is probably the best and you don’t want your personal phone on Google)  “We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you further to obtain more details and take any measures needed to prevent this situation in the future.

Lastly, although the response should follow a similar format, it should not be copied from a previous response.  Each response should be genuine and convey not only your respect for their feelings, but your desire to talk with them.

A couple of other tips:

  • Never offer anything of value on Google.
    • You don’t want to open the flood gates of “If I complain, they give me free stuff”
  • Don’t admit guilt.
    • Even if you know a complaint to be true, follow the steps and assure investigation.
    • If you make contact with them later and it is a problem, it’s not a problem to admit it here and inform them how you are fixing it.
    • Don’t make a record on Google.
  • Make sure you check your Google listings regularly (at least weekly)
    • If a couple get by you… not a big deal… If you have delayed responses for all, it’ a PR issue.

Hope this helps.  If you have any questions… feel free to contact us.