How to respond to Google reviews?

Whether you are currently running a newly opened restaurant, selling sweatshirts in a trendy boutique on a weekly basis, or are an established accountant with a widespread reputation among businesses, one thing remains consistent: if you have a profile on Google My Business, you should prioritize the most crucial element of all – customer reviews.

Why is this important?

Often, a simple fact is overlooked, much like a pump: Google itself is a social network. Comprising people who dine out, shop for clothing, or require your other products and services, they enjoy sharing their experiences from time to time, while others read these reviews – just as they do on Facebook or Instagram.

However, unlike traditional networks, nearly everyone uses Google, and the psychology of star ratings wields tremendous influence. According to numerous studies, as much as 90% of customers make their decisions based on reviews. Google itself attributes substantial significance to reviews within the realm of SEO and search rankings.

Reviews also serve as a valuable source of insight into how customers perceive your business, what they appreciate, and what concerns them. As a result, they can function as a reliable compass when your business veers off course.

Untapped Potential

One of our clients in Olomouc, Hotel Theresian & Spa, boasts nearly 500 reviews. Despite hosting many satisfied guests in the beautifully renovated neo-baroque house located right in the city center, some of whom have chosen to share their experiences, the hotel team hasn’t given the reviews much attention.

As in other aspects of online marketing, a simple rule applies here: it’s better to be late (but thorough) than never. A brief analysis of several other top Czech hotels reveals that people in this sector often struggle to effectively manage Google reviews. There are only a few shining examples of best practices, and we will highlight a few of them.

How to Get Started

First and foremost, simply take the plunge and get started. Begin by examining your Google My Business profile. Check if you already have any reviews and prioritize those that require the most (immediate) attention.Where can you locate these reviews? Log in to your Google account and click on the apps menu at the top right corner (next to your profile icon). Select the option labeled ‘Business Profile Manager.’

If you’re managing multiple business profiles, choose the one where you want to respond to customer reviews. Click on the ‘View Profile’ button.

Now, you have the advanced interface open, and you have two options. Click on the ‘Read Reviews’ button on the left, or simply click directly on the reviews link in the main profile on the right.

If you’re using a mobile device for editing, the process is quite similar to the desktop version (the interface is clear and intuitive).

Freelance Core Tip: It’s advisable to craft your review responses in a web browser on your computer. You have 4,000 characters at your disposal, and working with text is more convenient than on a mobile device.

You can then filter the reviews based on the most helpful, most recent, or lowest and highest scores. This will provide you with an immediate overview of the activity on your company profile. However, the most important step is just beginning: composing your initial responses.

More Than You Think

Bear in mind that when you respond to a specific review, the author might not even read it. They’ll receive a notification from Google, but they may not find the time to engage with your response.

What’s crucial, however, is that your response may be seen by thousands of other individuals who are searching for something and stumble upon your profile. Am I exaggerating? Not at all. Recently, after a few shots of Jägermeister, I wrote a review for Bar Zahrada in Olomouc, and within two days, it was viewed by 700 people.

Freelance Core Tip: Don’t hesitate to request permission from your customers to use the photos they provide you with for reviews on other platforms.

Be Authentic

Maintain a consistent and genuine approach when responding to every review. However, avoid generic responses such as, “Thank you for your review. We’re glad you were satisfied.” It’s better to refrain from writing anything at all. Hollow clichés don’t capture anyone’s attention. Observe how empty such phrases appear.

Conversely, people value authenticity. Each review is authored by a real person with their unique experience. Therefore, craft your responses as if you were speaking directly to them. Address what they encountered at your establishment. Express yourselves as humans – not like robots or ChatGPT.

If you lack the inclination, inspiration, or time to respond to a review, revisit it later. Reviews present the ideal opportunity to cultivate a relationship with a specific customer, and in business, that’s a facet that should never be underestimated.

How to Handle Content

Responding to reviews provides an excellent off-site opportunity to emphasize your USP – Unique Selling Propositions.

Unique Selling Propositions are your distinctive selling arguments, answering the question of why customers should choose your business. When listing them, always highlight your most significant benefits and competitive advantages (i.e., what sets you apart from the competition, what you excel at, and why customers should choose your business).

Before you begin responding to reviews, create a concise list of your USPs and strategically incorporate them into your responses. If you find it challenging to define these unique selling points or are unsure which attributes of your products and services should be included in your selling points, it may indicate the need for a well-defined communication strategy.

Ready to proceed? In the case of Olomouc’s Theresian Hotel, a response to a review might look something like this:

We’re delighted that you enjoyed your room and plan to return to Theresian. We’re especially thrilled about your positive feedback on the Jacuzzi. Did you know that when you book your stay directly through our website, you’ll receive complimentary access for 2 hours? Furthermore, our spa stays open until 10 pm. We can’t wait to welcome you back!”

Utilize the Cross-Sell Principle

The information you include in your responses to reviews can significantly enhance the potential for positive customer feedback. To amplify this effect, consider applying one of the fundamental principles of effective marketing – cross-selling.

Cross-selling is a straightforward technique for increasing sales. It involves offering related products or services to individuals who have already made a purchase from your business. You can easily introduce something new that your customers might not have been aware of. For instance:

“We are thrilled by your enthusiasm for Theresian Hotel’s amenities. You’ll find similarly captivating interiors in our second hotel, nestled in the picturesque Jeseníky Mountains. Even our apartments in Ostružná boast original artworks for added charm. Every memorable experience is crafted from small details, and we take great care in perfecting them.

Don’t hesitate to incorporate humor, light-heartedness, playfulness, and emojis into your responses. Select, for instance, three emojis that resonate with your brand and evoke positive emotions. Use them thoughtfully and primarily to emphasize your most essential messages. For Hotel Theresian, I recommend these three emojis: ⭐✅🛎

Freelance Core Tip: Always place emojis at the end of a sentence. Use them as punctuation marks at the conclusion. Avoid using a period followed by an emoji. This approach enhances the text’s visual presentation ⭐

Likewise, don’t shy away from negative reviews. Your responses will demonstrate your resilience. Approach negative reviews with caution.

They may involve outright falsehoods aimed at harming your reputation (possibly from competitors) or they might stem from momentary emotional reactions. However, when facing constructive criticism, respond with composure.

When It Gets Really Tough

Take a deep breath, exhale, and let’s tackle this! For instance, if you’re a receptionist assigned to respond to Google reviews during the night shift and you find yourself unsure about how to handle certain reviews, it might be a good idea to wait until morning and pass the challenging task to the hotel operations manager.

Most of the Google review responses are expertly managed by our fantastic front desk colleagues. However, there are times when a guest’s comment demands special attention. As a smaller hotel, we place great emphasis on customer care, and that’s why we never underestimate guest reviews,” says Vojtěch Šponar, the manager of Hotel Theresian & Spa.

When crafting a response to a confrontational but legitimately critical review that highlights significant shortcomings or one where the intent to harm your reputation is evident, keep in mind two key aspects:

  • The author of the review cannot engage in further discussion with your response (as this isn’t a discussion platform). You have the “final say.”
  • You can edit, modify, or correct your response at any time (which comes in handy if you come up with a clever argument later).

When writing a response to a negative review, don’t defend yourself at all costs – it comes across as rigid and insincere. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it, apologize if necessary, and always express gratitude for the feedback.

It’s similar to life. Sometimes we upset someone with something, and then it’s up to us how we react. With a little skill, you can turn an initially angry client into a loyal customer.

Take inspiration from your favorite brand

Not sure what to write? Look elsewhere. It doesn’t have to be your closest competitor. If you’ve been responding to Google reviews for a long time and sometimes find yourself at a loss for words, simply draw inspiration from other profiles whose communication resonates with you.

And it might even be in a completely different industry than yours. If you admire how, for example, a whitewater rafting company handles it, go to them for fresh ideas on how to make the most of Google reviews.

The more networks you have, the more human you are

This applies to everyone, and nurturing each network can pay off. You never know which comment, what ad, or specific wording will convince someone to come to you and make a purchase in the future.

Google reviews are a crucial part of building a strong online marketing presence. Embrace this tool with confidence, and if you’ve fallen behind a bit, it’s time to catch up.

Need assistance? Reach out to us, and we’ll find an approach tailored specifically to you and your business. We’re Freelance Core, a dedicated team of digital marketing experts with expertise in production and training.

Mgr. Lukáš Jan Bednařík

Copywriting & Emailing


LI: Lukáš Bednařík

FB: Lukáš Jan Bednařík

IG: @lukasbednarik