How to Respond to Not-So-Rave Reviews on Your Google My Business Listing

So, you got a negative review—now what???

It happens to the best of us. We all have an off day or a customer who we just can’t make happy (despite our best efforts). Then, to your horror, the next time you login to your Google My Business listing, you see that your latest review is a scathing criticism of you, your business, and your employees.

No one likes being publicly called-out, but ignoring critical reviews won’t make them go away. #MichaelsWilder #reputationmanagement Click To Tweet

Let’s be honest; it hurts. It’s natural to feel upset by negative feedback, and if you need, you can step away for a bit before you respond. Taking some time to respond is better than typing out a snarky reply in the heat of the moment. 

Whatever you do, however, just don’t ignore the issue. No one likes being publicly called-out, but ignoring critical reviews won’t make them go away. So, instead of burying your head in the sand, look on the bright side! Each complaint is an opportunity to win over a loyal, lifetime customer. People remember when you’re able to reverse a negative situation, and they may even spread the word if you invest your time and attention into solving the problem.

Here’s how to turn a negative review into a positive outcome:

  1. Be professional: Don’t let a rude customer drag you down into the mud. Just because someone else is playing dirty, doesn’t mean you have to. Keep the conversation respectful and courteous.
  2. Apologize and accept responsibility: Don’t throw employees under the bus! As the owner or manager of the business, any mistakes fall to you. Stay humble and gracious in your response.
  3. Don’t use cookie-cutter responses: If you copy and paste the same generic response to each review, it makes it seem like you aren’t giving individual consideration to each complaint. Make sure to address each reviewer by name and acknowledge their specific complaint.
  4. Offer a remedy to the situation: Offer actionable solutions to the problem to show that you’re learning from constructive criticism. If appropriate, offer a replacement to a faulty item, a free meal, etc. or explain what steps are being done to fix the problem.
  5. Keep it brief: No one wants to read a five-paragraph essay explaining what went wrong. Be succinct and hit the main points.
  6. If possible, solve issues before they become negative reviews: Be attentive to your guests’ needs and encourage your staff to do the same. Foster an environment where your customers feel comfortable offering feedback. It’s much easier to fix a problem before the customer walks out the door.
Waitress interacting with customer at restaurant

Keep in mind that your audience for this response is not just the person who wrote the negative review. You’re also indirectly writing to any other Google user who stumbles upon your response. A gracious and thoughtful response goes a long way in mitigating any damage done by a negative review on your Google My Business listing.

And, to end this on a positive note, don’t forget to thank users who take the time to write a nice review! The squeaky wheel usually gets the grease, but don’t forget to give a shout-out to your fans as well as your critics.