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Google Reviews Now Open to Responses

August 18th, 2010 | | Local SEO, Reputation Management

If you read my previous posts about online reputation management, you know I feel how important it is to be aware of what your online reputation is and be constantly aware as much as you can. The problem with ORM is that it is a wild west of rating potential. Anyone can rate your business for anything. Restaurants seem to get the most online reviews and the system seems to check itself, but there’s some businesses that don’t garner a lot of online reviews and so all it takes is one or two bad reviews to sour the rest of the online audience.

The power to respond to an online comment is mighty. It can help or harm in a dramatic way. Think twice, post once. With Yahoo, you could respond. Crafting an intelligent response to get the conversation offline was the best case scenario. With Google, you were branded with that 1 star review from Redbarron69 every time your name came up.

Well no more!

As of last Thursday, Google has opened up their reviews to allow responses from verified business (another incentive to fill out your Google Place page).

This is huge. But like “huge” things, it’s both good and bad for reasons I already stated. You can respond, but if you do it wrong you open up a PR nightmare. Two months ago, I gave a crash course in online reputation to department heads of a client. Only two reviews were given and they were both one star. Since they were on Google, nothing could be done. Luckily, the reviews were detailed enough to know what had happened and talk with the those from the company involved.

Now, the ability to respond to a negative review is here!

But first things first: Should you? Yes.

  • If you don’t respond to negative reviews, it could send the signal that you agree with their assessment. “Yeah, you got us there. We tried to rip you off.”
  • If you don’t respond to negative reviews, it could send the signal that you don’t care about your customers. ”Eh, so what? We’re awesome without you anyway…”
  • If you don’t respond to negative reviews, it could send the signal that you are moving backward. “Bad review? On a Goo gull? What’s a goo gull?”

How do you handle a negative review? You can read our previous posts, but I came up with a handy dandy acronym that will probably find it’s way onto a PowerPoint someday. Keep your responses to negative reviews LOW.

Listen - People want to be heard. Empathize with their situation and understand that their frustration is validated. Though you may disagree with their accusations with every fiber of your body. This is not the place for it. Your company is bigger than that.

Offline – Get the conversation offline, invite the person to call you or a manager directly and post a direct number. Use Google voice if you are afraid of a barrage of calls.

Win-win – If the person does call, you have an opportunity to turn the customer around to a strong advocate.

Listen, empathize, calmly explain and bring in your customer service protocols. Do not ask for the review to be removed, it will cheapen your efforts.

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