As all savvy companies know, a good or bad review can make or break you. And that’s why Google’s local business listing is important.

So you’ve filled in all your details, but then there’s a damaging review. Everyone can see it and no, you can’t remove it.

Don’t panic. Here are our six Golden Rules to saving face when the critics strike!

Google’s local business listing has had various different names over the years, most recently being called ‘Google My Business’. That’s quite a mouthful so let’s call it ‘GMB’ for now.

GMB holds the information (both positive and negative) that Google uses when listing your business.

So you’ve set up GMB. Then the dreaded criticism strikes. When a negative review appears, there are some constructive actions that you can take:

1. Respond – and fast. Provided you have verified your Google My Business listing you can reply to a review and provide an explanation for whatever grievance is being aired.

2. Be calm, professional and honest. Don’t let anger take over your tone*, just be upfront about what you feel went wrong your end. We like starting with a softener like: “Thanks for your valuable feedback. We’re sorry you feel unhappy with the service we provided and we would like to do something about that.”

*Whatever you do, please don’t respond like the owner of this Atlanta restaurant did!

3. Offer them something valuable. Everyone loves a freebie so suggest a free meal if you’re a restaurant, money back or a discount on your product or service. If they are happy after this, ask them to edit their review in a more positive light.

4. Try the personal touch. If you can’t resolve the issue via email, arrange a phone call and let them tell you their side without interruption. Paraphrase the key points to indicate you were listening and have understood and accepted their complaint, then apologise for what went wrong.

5. Invest your energy into promoting positive feedback. Tap up your happy customers and ask them to write a short testimonial. One bad review among 20 positive ones could even make you appear more authentic. Also, it’s worth remembering that Google only shows five or six reviews on the first page of your listing, so a large number of more recent good reviews will tend to push a bad review down the page.

6. Learn a lesson. Does your service or product need improving? Do you need to set customer expectations better? Perhaps there is a market segment that you should not be targeting.

Dealing with spammers or reviews from malicious and jealous competitors

There are a couple of things you can do to attack the problem head-on:

  • What if you feel this really wasn’t a legitimate review – perhaps it is spam, or was placed by a competitor? Then you should click the “Flag as Inappropriate” link and complete the policy violation form as instructed.
  • You could ask a couple of friends to do the same. Google won’t remove a review immediately as they take quite a long time to process these requests.

Remember, one bad review won’t irreversibly damage your online reputation – but one bad reaction could.

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