Nice move on Google’s part today to give local business owners a way to respond to reviews that users write on the business’ Place Page. That solves a pretty common frustration that I’ve heard from business owners over the years — namely, that reviewers can say whatever they want and the business owner doesn’t have an easy way to respond.
But a few words of caution are still in order, I think.
Responding to reviews is generally a good idea (though not always), but you have to be careful how you go about it. A little over a year ago, in an article called 5 Ways Negative Reviews are Good for Business, I wrote this:
A negative review is an opportunity for you to shine, to show you care about making things better — not only for the customer who left the negative review, but also for the countless others that are reading. There are plenty of negative reviews out there, but far fewer stories about how the small business turned the negative review into a positive. If you can do that, people will notice. They’ll tell their friends what you did, how you turned a bad experience into something good. And you’ll be better off in the long term because of it.
Along with today’s news, Google has written a pretty good guide to help local business owners respond to reviews. I would suggest reading that, and also read Scott Clark’s article, 15 Tips for Responding to Google Place Page Reviews, that he just published today.
I should add, in case Google’s announcement didn’t make it clear, that you can only reply to reviews left directly on your Place Page — you can’t reply to the reviews from 3rd-party sites that Google shows. And, this is only available to business owners who have claimed their Place Page.