Google reviews are how your customers rate your business and just like in real-world interactions, not all of them are optimal. So, how do you deal with a negative review? Is it ever okay to ask a customer to edit their review?
The short answer is that it requires tact and patience.
Google reviews are a relatively recent phenomenon that some businesses are still getting used to. Local small businesses have more at stake here than big brands. Those who understand the importance of Google reviews know that managing them can be the difference between a successful and an ailing business.
While word of mouth has always affected businesses, endorsement and criticism today are public in a new way. They are formalised in writing and delivered straight to your potential customers. As a small business, you should be constantly looking to get more reviews by requesting your customers directly, via email or text.
Remember that Google reviews will build your awareness, help your credibility, and improve your search engine rankings. While doing so, you should know that not all of them will be flattering. Some could be highly encouraging, some could be critical, and some could be somewhere in the middle.
While everyone loves a good review, a bad review can be unsettling for a small business. These reviews feel worryingly permanent and it can be tempting to try to change the situation. However, if your business gets a bad review, the next steps you take are critical. You need your emotions under control and your business hat on. That's the difference between reacting and responding.
For a favourable outcome, there are certain best practices to be kept in mind.
So, you’re checking your reviews, and the worst happens. There’s a new one-star review from a very unhappy customer. The adrenaline kicks in and you feel urged to resolve the situation immediately or defend your business. You start typing. Stop right there!
You shouldn’t react the moment you spot a critical review. That rarely ends well. Rather than coming from a place of emotion or stress, give yourself time to calm down.
Think like a customer. Haven’t you felt critical of other businesses and brands? The aggrieved customer probably doesn’t have a personal vendetta against you or your business — they just want the best for themselves. Criticism is an unavoidable part of doing business.
Before reacting to the review, you should do your homework. Enquire into the issue and collect the facts. Talk to your team and figure out what happened. Encourage an honest discussion and gather any evidence (emails, letters) that will help you to understand where things went wrong.
Do you know the phrase, 'dance like nobody's watching'? When responding to Google reviews, this does not apply. In fact, we'd recommend you dance like you're in the final of Britain's Got Talent.
Self-awareness is the golden rule for managing online reviews. Remember that it’s a public forum. Anything and everything you say can affect people’s impressions of you and your business. Take it as an opportunity to show everyone that you are professional, calm, can take responsibility, and always prioritise positive solutions over pride or profit. Draft out your response and come back to it a few times. Get a second opinion from someone who isn’t directly involved.
This is the most important part of a negative review. Although as a business owner, you can’t change or delete it, the customer can. If you work towards finding a positive solution, they might decide to amend their review on their own initiative. At the very least, you’ll have a chance of changing their negative impression of you. Nothing is final if you work toward putting the customer first and resolving the issue.
As you reach out, remember that before anything else, a heartfelt apology goes a long way.
Someone who paid for your product or service is feeling upset and disappointed. They feel that their trust was broken. Even if you don’t completely agree with their position, you can show them that you care by offering a sincere apology.
Secondly, tread with caution when it comes to offering discounts, refunds or any other financial reparations. If you offer compensation and then suggest they amend their review, it could be mistaken as bribery. Not only could this upset the customer further, but it may even be against the rules. Google strictly prohibits financially incentivised reviews and you could be hit with a hefty fine.
The third point is to be specific about what they have mentioned in their review. If they were disappointed with the quality of the product or how long they had to wait or the behaviour of your staff, that’s the point you should focus on. This is your chance to show that you’ve listened, so avoid generic apologies.
Once you’ve figured out the problem, offer to fix it. An even better strategy would be to fix it first and then reach out.
The fifth thing to keep in mind is not to mimic their language. If they are “shocked,” you don’t have to repeat it. Use “disappointed” instead. You’re disappointed that they had to wait for so long.
So, you’ve done everything above. How do you go about suggesting they change their review?
Directly asking a customer to change their review is rarely ever appropriate. Instead, ask them to update their feedback to include any corrective action you have taken. Plus, if you’ve truly fixed the problem and appeased the customer, they’ll probably feel inclined to reel in a strongly worded review when they go to update it.
Keep in mind that you should only suggest they update their review if you have fixed the problem, or if there has been a misunderstanding that led to the review.
Once you’ve done your bit, you can reach out with a template like this to request customers to edit Google reviews. It’s best to send this message privately, as it could look strange to other customers if you reply to a review asking them to amend it.
Hi (first name of the customer),
I am sorry that you had to go through (specifically mention the issue). It’s against everything we stand for. Customer satisfaction means everything to us.
We’ve looked into the problem and rectified it so that it isn’t repeated. (Give detail here). It’s because of your feedback that we had a chance to correct the mistake and we appreciate this.
Would you be willing to update your feedback with the changes we’ve made? If not, we understand.
We thank you for your feedback and look forward to serving you soon.
(Your first name)
Asking a customer to completely edit a negative review is rarely appropriate. But, if you’ve resolved the situation, it could be acceptable to ask them to update their feedback to reflect the action you’ve taken.
If you do ask them to update their feedback, it’s best to do that privately. While requesting an edit, be empathetic and humble. This can encourage most people to reconsider their views. And if they choose not to amend their review, that’s okay too. Just keep focusing on improving your business and good reviews will come your way.
If you think about the kinds of businesses that can benefit from online reviews, restaurants, hotels, museums, and others targeting the public will probably come to mind. But online reviews really can help any kind of business, as the story of Harris Consultancy shows.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of fake, malicious Google reviews and are wondering how to delete them, read on.