How to Respond to Google Reviews (With Examples & Templates)
Learn how to respond to Google reviews to win new customers and boost your star rating. Use our examples and templates for even the most difficult reviews.
Topics covered in this article:
Why respond to Google reviews? (Does it really matter?)
Yes, it really matters.
When local businesses respond to reviews regularly, they get more reviews and a higher star rating, according to a joint study by University of Southern California and Boston University.
The study found that when hotels started responding regularly to TripAdvisor reviews, they got 12% more reviews and their average star ratings increased.
And when star ratings go up, so do sales.
A Cornell study showed that hotels that increased their rating by just 1 star could increase their prices by 11.2% and still maintain the same occupancy rate and market share.
Another study by UC Berkeley showed that restaurants with a 4.0 star Yelp rating sell out 19% more often than those with a 3.5 star rating.
So long story short: Local businesses that respond to Google reviews get more reviews and higher star ratings, which leads to more customers and more sales.
How to respond to negative Google reviews
When you get negative Google reviews that violate Google’s policies, find out how to delete a Google review altogether rather than just responding.
But when you get bad reviews and can’t remove them, then respond to Google reviews in a way that makes the most of a bad situation.
10 keys to responding to negative Google reviews successfully
When you have a negative review, you can still turn lemons into lemonade in 2 possible ways:
- Get an updated review – Convince the reviewer to update the review to a better one with a higher star rating
- Win over future customers – Convince everyone who reads the bad review in the future that your business goes to great lengths to satisfy customers and can be trusted
To maximize your chances of success, be sure to respond to Google reviews in a way that follows all of these keys to success….
Key #1) Speed
Respond to Google reviews within 24 hours. The faster, the better.
When you respond quickly, you demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction. Whether or not the unhappy reviewer is impressed, others who read the review in the future may still be impressed.
Key #2) Offline Communication
Contact the unhappy customer offline if you have their contact information. If not, be sure to respond to the Google review with an offer to fix the customer’s problem and a “next step” for the customer to contact you directly offline. (See Template #1 below on how to use a Google review response to take the discussion offline.)
Don’t go back and forth communicating with the customer on Google. That could backfire on you. Instead, try to turn that unhappy customer into a happy customer first.
Once the customer is happy, then add a publicly visible response to the Google review so everyone who reads the review in the future knows that you successfully addressed the customer’s needs.
Key #3) Solutions or Information
Whenever possible, solve the customer’s problem. There’s nothing quite like solving the problem to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. (See Template #2 below on how to respond to Google reviews with a solution.)
But sometimes it’s not possible to solve the problem.
So when you can’t solve the customer’s problem, do the next best thing: Offer useful information to help the customer get as close to a solution as possible.
For example, refer the customer to a business that might be able to solve the problem, or other information that might result in a solution. (See Template #3 below on how to respond to Google reviews with information instead of a solution.)
Key #4) Permanent Improvements
If possible, fix the problem for all future customers, not just the one unhappy customer who left a negative review.
Then respond to the Google review with an update on the steps you’ve taken to make sure the problem never happens again. (See Template #4 below on how to respond to Google reviews to announce permanent improvements.)
A permanent solution will impress both the customer and the future readers of the review even more than a one-off fix for just one customer.
Even more importantly, future readers of the review will have greater confidence that they won’t experience the same problem the original reviewer experienced.
Key #5) Sincerity
Come across as a “real person” who is sincere and authentic.
Don’t come across as the representative of a company. Use “I” instead of “we” and put a human face on your response. Don’t make yourself look like a nameless, faceless company.
Don’t be overly formal. This comes across as insincere. Instead, use language you would use in everyday conversation. For example, don’t say this: “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.” Instead, say something more like this: “I’m so sorry. I’m just so embarrassed about what happened.”
Don’t try to minimize the problem or make excuses. If you do this, you’ll come across as insincere when you claim to sympathize with the customer.
Key #6) Sympathy
Express sincere sympathy for the customer.
When people write bad reviews, they often feel like they’re in an “us vs. them” battle with the business.
When you show sincere sympathy, you disarm the customer’s adversarial attitude and start working together to solve the problem rather than working against each other.
Oftentimes, just showing the customer you sincerely care is enough to win them over, even if you can’t ultimately solve their problem.
Key #7) Responsibility
Take responsibility for the fact that the customer is not happy.
Even if the customer is entirely to blame for their own problems, consider this: You’re in business to make people happy. So take responsibility for the fact that your business failed at its own goal of making the reviewer happy.
You don’t need to take responsibility for the customer’s own mistakes. But do take responsibility for the fact that you missed your own personal goal of making customers happy.
Ask yourself what you could have done better for the customer, ignoring all the things the customer might have done wrong. Then take responsibility for the kinds of things you might have done better.
Avoid any language that even slightly sounds like an excuse.
Oftentimes, it’s virtually impossible to explain the reason why something went wrong without sounding like you’re making excuses. So only explain the reasons for a problem if you immediately follow up with the solutions you plan to implement to fix the problem or avoid the problem in the future.
Key #8) Positivity
Be sure to respond to Google reviews with a positive attitude. Stay focused on solving problems and how to move forward into the future. Avoid getting mired in discussing the problem itself and dwelling on what happened in the past.
Also be sure to respond to the review with positive language only.
People respond subconsciously to individual words, so use only words with positive associations.
For example, don’t say something like this with lots of negative words:
“I’m sorry. I hate to think you suffered from the bad hair styling we botched. I can’t think of any other way to handle this but to take 10% off your next purchase. Sorry again.”
Instead, say something more like this with lots of positive words:
“I hope to improve our service so your next hair styling exceeds your expectations. To prove ourselves, I’d love to give you a 10% discount on your next visit. I sincerely hope you’ll give us a second chance.”
Notice that the meaning is mostly the same between these 2 examples. The only difference is the use of words with negative vs. positive connotations.
Key #9) Brevity
Keep your response to the review as short as possible.
You have 2 audiences: The unhappy customer who wrote the review and the hundreds of people who will read the review and your response for years to come.
So you have 2 missions: Turn the unhappy customer into a happy customer and show the hundreds of future readers that they can and should trust your business and become a customer.
To accomplish your first mission, you can have lengthy, in-depth conversations with your unhappy customer to solve their problems. But do this offline, not in your review response.
But the only way to accomplish your second mission (getting readers to trust your business) is to keep your review response short, to the point, and compelling.
That’s because people typically don’t read large blocks of text on the Internet. They prefer to skim.
When someone sees a lengthy response, they’re much more likely to skip it altogether and not read even the first sentence.
But when someone sees a short response, they’re much more likely to read it in its entirety.
So keep your response down to around 2 or 3 sentences and no more than 5 sentences.
Key #10) Request Update
If you manage to turn your unhappy customer into a happy customer, ask politely if they would be so kind as to update their review.
Be sure to ask offline, not in your response. (See the “Bonus” example below on how to ask for an update to a Google review.)
When hundreds of future readers see the customer’s original negative review… but then they see your well crafted response tending to the customer’s needs… and then they see the customer update their review to a more positive one… the net result is that the readers gain more trust that your business will do whatever it takes to make sure they’re satisfied if they become your next customer.
Your star rating is another critically important reason to get a reviewer to update their negative review after you’ve satisfied them.
Many readers will never even read your reviews to begin with if you have a low average star rating. They’ll simply dismiss your business based on the star rating alone.
So protect your average star rating by getting the credit you deserve for satisfying customers even after they’ve written a negative review.
Templates to respond to negative Google reviews (With Examples)
Below are templates you can use to respond to Google reviews using the keys to success listed above.
It’s important to personalize each response you write. Every time you respond to Google reviews, the response should clearly be unique and not cookie cutter.
So don’t just copy/paste and fill in the template.
Instead, use it as a first draft. Then heavily rewrite it so that each and every response you write is truly unique.
Template #1) How to respond to Google reviews and take the discussion offline
NAME, SINCERE APOLOGY. DESIRE TO HELP. NEXT STEP OFFLINE. FRIENDLY CLOSE.
Bob, so sorry we set your hair on fire at our restaurant last night. I’d like to apologize personally and offer you a month of free dinners on us. I’ll send you an email today with the details. Again, so sorry and we’ll do whatever we can to make this right.
Jane, my sincerest apologies that we couldn’t provide you with the contract killer services you asked for when visiting our flower shop recently. I’d like to make it up to you by making a beautiful flower arrangement for your husband’s funeral once your contract killer finishes the job. Please give me a call if you’re interested. Until then, happy hunting!
Template #2) How to respond to Google reviews with a solution
NAME, SINCERE APOLOGY. SOLUTION CONFIRMATION. PROMISE BETTER IN FUTURE. FRIENDLY CLOSE.
Henry, I’m so sorry you couldn’t flush any of your toilets after I fixed the plumbing in your tub yesterday. I’m glad I could get it all fixed when I visited your house again today. I promise that won’t ever happen again. I hope you’ll give me the chance to prove it in the future.
Angela, I’m very sorry our stylist trimmed off your eyebrows at our salon the other day. I’m so glad we were able to tattoo new eyebrows for you earlier today. You have my personal guarantee that none of our stylists will ever shave your eyebrows off again without asking you first. Thanks so much for your patience with the tattoo artist today, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Template #3) How to respond to Google reviews with information instead of a solution
NAME, SINCERE APOLOGY. WISH FOR SOLUTION. HELPFUL INFORMATION. BENEFIT OF INFORMATION. FRIENDLY CLOSE.
Hank, I’m so sorry your dog now looks like a shaved rat after visiting our grooming facility. I only wish we could restore your dog’s fur. But since that’s not possible, may I suggest ordering your dog a fur coat on Amazon? At least that would help keep your dog from getting too cold this winter. If there’s anything else we can do, please just let us know.
Hilda, I sincerely apologize that you lost your thumb when our Teppanyaki chef lost control of his knife at your table. I wish we could re-attach your thumb, but as you know, the doctor said that would be impossible. I did find this article that might help you, though. It may help you adjust to life as a lefty now. I know this isn’t much consolation, but if there’s anything else I can do to ease your loss, please let me know.
Template #4) How to respond to Google reviews to announce permanent improvements
NAME, SINCERE APOLOGY. (if possible: SOLUTION CONFIRMATION.) PERMANENT SOLUTION. THANKS FOR TRUST. FRIENDLY CLOSE.
Bruce, I apologize profusely that we mistakenly gave you breast implants when you were actually scheduled for a face lift. I’m glad we were able to agree on scheduling you for free breast reduction surgery to correct the error. We’ve put a new system in place to make sure we don’t ever mix up one patient’s procedure with another patient’s procedure again. I really appreciate your understanding, patience, and willingness to let us correct the problem. Looking forward to your next visit.
Mary, my sincerest apologies that your kids escaped my daycare facility and were taken in by local gang members while they were away. I’m so glad we were able to locate them and pay the gang’s ransom to get them back again. To make sure this never happens again, we’ve installed barbed wire along our fence to keep kids from escaping so easily. Thanks so much again for being understanding and continuing to entrust your children’s safety to us. We won’t let you down again.
Bonus) How to ask for an update to a Google review
OK, this isn’t actually a template on how to respond to Google reviews. This is actually an example of an email.
Use this example after you’ve turned an unhappy customer who wrote a bad review into a happy customer.
How to respond to positive Google reviews
Should you respond to Google reviews when they’re already good reviews?
When local businesses start responding to customer reviews, they get more reviews and a higher star rating, as we mentioned earlier about the study by University of Southern California and Boston University.
That includes both positive and negative reviews.
But the way to respond to positive Google reviews is fundamentally different than negative reviews.
So let’s cover the keys to success when you respond to positive Google reviews….
7 keys to responding to positive Google reviews successfully
There are 2 main goals to keep in mind when you respond to positive Google reviews:
- Strengthen customer loyalty – Show the customer who wrote the good review that you care about them and their experience, strengthening your relationship with that customer and the customer’s sense of loyalty to your business
- Win over future customers – Show everyone who reads your reviews in the future that you care about your customers and their satisfaction, so the readers feel they can trust your business if they become your next customer
To maximize your chances of successfully achieving these goals, be sure to respond to Google reviews in a way that follows all of these keys to success….
Key #1) Speed
Respond to a positive review as soon as possible after the customer writes the review. Your fast reply will impress many customers, further reinforcing their faith in your commitment to customer satisfaction.
If you don’t have an easy way to know when a customer leaves a review for you, try our free review monitoring tool. Yes, it’s free. No strings attached.
Key #2) Sincerity
Always express your gratitude sincerely.
Don’t ever come across as insincere. If you come across as insincere, you may turn a happy customer into a not-so-happy customer.
So don’t pander to the customer in an exaggerated way. Don’t use language that might sound sarcastic. And avoid sounding overly formal.
Just express your sincere appreciation for the customer in a normal, moderate tone with the kinds of words people use naturally in a conversation with friends.
Key #3) Personalization
Take the time to respond to Google reviews in a way that deepens your personal connection with the customer.
Call the customer by name. Refer to specific aspects of the customer’s unique experience instead of generic comments that could apply to anyone.
Avoid an overly formal tone. Write your review response in the same language you would use in conversation with a friend.
Respond as one person talking to another person, not as a company or group of people. Use “I” instead of “we.”
Key #4) Brevity
Keep your response brief. Shoot for 2 to 3 sentences, 5 tops.
Don’t waste your customer’s time with a lengthy response. Respect their time by crafting a response that makes all the key points you want to make, but in as few words as possible.
Not only will your customer appreciate it, but you’ll get more people in the future who actually read your response. (People tend not to read even the first sentence if they see a response that’s overly long.)
Key #5) Keywords
Use keywords that your future customers are likely to use when they search for a business like yours.
For example, if you’re a plumber, use words like plumbing, plumber, fix, sink, tub, water damage, etc….
This will help your local SEO efforts to rank for search terms with these keywords in them.
Key #6) Rewards
If appropriate, reward customers who write exceptionally glowing reviews.
For example, you might offer them a discount on their next visit, a free sample, a sneak peek at something special you haven’t revealed yet, or any other perks you can think of.
When you offer a customer a reward, be sure to mention that publicly when you respond to the Google review. That way, you’ll send a message to everyone who reads the review that you seriously care about your customers.
WARNING: Never offer a reward before someone writes a positive review. It’s literally illegal to buy Google reviews and it could land you in court facing hefty fines. However, it’s perfectly fine to offer someone a reward after they write a positive review, assuming they had no expectation of a reward at the time when they wrote the review.
Key #7) Call to Action
When you respond to Google reviews, you have a great opportunity to encourage repeat business. Take advantage of it!
If you offer the customer a reward (see Key #6) then make it a reward that brings them back to do more business—like a discount on their next visit or some special prize they need to come back to claim.
Even if you don’t give the customer a reward, include other calls to action that encourage repeat business—like “Let me know when you want to schedule your next appointment” or “Follow us on Facebook” or “Make sure you sign up for our newsletter” or even just “Be sure to say Hi the next time you stop by.”
Templates to respond to positive Google reviews (With Examples)
Below are templates you can use to respond to Google reviews while using the keys to success listed above for positive reviews.
Be sure to personalize each response you write. Never let any 2 responses look alike. So never just copy and paste the template examples.
Instead, use each of the following templates as a first draft, and then heavily rewrite them to tailor each response uniquely for each customer.
Template #1) How to respond to Google reviews in general
NAME, THANKS FOR REVIEW. APPRECIATION FOR BUSINESS. HOPE FOR FUTURE. FRIENDLY CLOSE.
Jill, thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad we were able to help you book your vacation to Antarctica. I hope you get to see some penguins while you’re there. Have a great new adventure!
Jack, thanks for such an awesome review! I really appreciate you trusting us with the sale of your home. I hope you find prison more comfortable than you originally thought. Best of luck on your next probation hearing!
Template #2) How to respond to Google reviews and include a reward and CTA
NAME, THANKS FOR REVIEW. APPRECIATION FOR BUSINESS. REWARD. CTA.
Janet, thanks for reviewing us. I really appreciate you trusting us with removing all of your teeth after your freak buffet accident. Since we’ve never had a patient before who needed ALL of their teeth removed, I’d like to give you a little something to dull the pain… say a year’s supply of straws for your food. Just be sure to ask us about it the next time you come in for your next checkup, and we’ll give it to you then.
William, thank you for recommending us so highly! It was the highlight of our year to have an opportunity to petsit your precious pet, Fully. Since we’ve never had the pleasure of caring for a Tasmanian wombat before, I’d love to give you a 10% discount the next time you need a petsitter for Fluffy. Please just give me a call at your earliest convenience and I’ll give you the details and send over the discount coupon.
Template #3) How to respond to Google reviews with a CTA but no reward
NAME, THANKS FOR REVIEW. APPRECIATION FOR BUSINESS. HOPE FOR FUTURE. CTA.
Anne, thank you so much for all your kind words. I felt so honored to be the clown for your daughter’s 8th birthday. I hope she stopped crying after I left and that I just might play some small part in helping her overcome her newfound fear of clowns. Please give me a call in a few months when your son turns 6 if you’d like to book me to perform a magic act and leave the clown suit at home.
Tim, thanks for such a glowing review! I greatly appreciate your trust in me with your tax filing this year. I hope that third job helps you pay off all those back taxes in time. Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter so we can keep you updated on the latest tax code changes and you can stay ahead of the game for next year’s filing.