In this week’s video, I talk about responding to reviews from people who weren’t customers – whether it’s a misplaced review that should have gone to another business, a bad review from someone who clearly wasn’t a customer, or even a bad review from a disgruntled ex-employee, I share examples of how to respond to these “bogus” bad reviews that we all hate.
Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. Have you ever gotten a review from an ex-employee or someone you know wasn’t a customer? This week, I’m going to tell you how to respond to those reviews
I’ve been doing Local SEO for a long time now – probably 13 years at this point – and these “bogus” bad reviews happen far too often. I spend a bit of time answering questions at the Local Search Forum and the Google My Business forum, and probably at least once a day, someone pops in with a question about a review from an ex employee, or a review from someone who they know wasn’t a customer.
Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get these reviews removed. Google will only remove reviews that violate its restricted content policy – if you’re curious, you can read the policy at bit.ly/google-restricted-content.
Yes, employees aren’t allowed to leave reviews for the place where they work – but to get an ex-employee’s review removed is actually pretty difficult. You’ve got to prove they’re an ex-employee with something public, like their LinkedIn page – or if they mention in the review that they used to work there, then it’s easy.
But in most cases, you’re not going to be able to get any of these reviews removed. Business owners get pretty upset when they get a review from someone who wasn’t actually a customer, but it’s pretty much impossible to prove that the reviewer never dealt with the business, so Google won’t remove the review.
Like I mentioned a few videos back, a bad review every once in a while won’t really hurt you if you respond the right way. That holds true with these reviews too.
Sure, it’s frustrating that Google won’t pull them – but with the right response, no one will pay attention to them, and in the grand scheme of things, they won’t really hurt you.
Please keep in mind – I’m going to give you example replies, but you don’t want to simply cut and paste these as responses. Each response needs to be customized to the specific review you’re responding to, and be written in your own voice. You don’t want to post the same response every time – it makes you look lazy.
So – for reviews that come from ex-employees, here’s how you should respond
Karen – we’re sorry that you no longer work here and decided to leave us on bad terms, but we’d like to remind you that Google reviews are meant for customers to leave their thoughts about their experience here – not for you to try to bash us because you’re upset about not working here.
Something simple like that is all you need – you don’t want to be angry, or sling mud – just reply with something like that so potential customers see that Karen’s just being a Karen and the review doesn’t really mean anything.
When you get a review from someone who wasn’t a customer, or someone using a fake name, there are a few ways to respond, depending on what’s in the review.
Sometimes, people leave a review that’s clearly meant for a different business – like someone’s leaving a review for your restaurant but they meant to leave a bad review for the dry cleaner next door. In those cases, you should reply with something like
Mr Jones, we’re really sorry that your dry cleaner shrunk your Cosby sweater – but we’re the restaurant next door, and I promise you we had nothing to do with it! We’ll definitely pop over and let them know what you said, but if you don’t mind, we’d appreciate it if you deleted this review and re-posted it on their business instead.
Again – simple, and even a little light-hearted. Even though it was probably obvious that the review was for the wrong business, your response makes it crystal clear. And, since Google alerts reviewers when businesses respond, hopefully Mr Jones would check the response and realize he left the review in the wrong spot and remove it.
Most of the time, though, the bad review is meant for your business. When the review has stars only and no text, it’s a bit trickier, since you won’t have anything to reference about why they left a bad review. Typically, you’d respond with something like
Kyle – We’ve searched our records extensively and talked to all of our team, and have no record of you being a customer or ever setting foot in our store. Since you left a review with a fake name and no text, it’s tough for us to reach out to you and try to make things right, so if you have a legitimate complaint, please call us so we can work things out.
Polite, and to the point – but clearly, you’re pointing out that the review came from someone who wasn’t a customer.
When there is text involved, you’d adjust your reply and add some context
Kyle – We’ve searched our records extensively and have no record of you ever being a customer. We also talked with our sales team and asked them about the situation you described, and no one remembers anything like it ever happening. We’re not sure why you felt the need to leave a bad review and a false description of events, and since we don’t know who you are, we can’t reach out to you to try to address the situation. If you have a legitimate complaint, please call us so we can work things out.
If you mention that they’re not in your records AND no one ever experienced what happened, again, potential customers will realize it’s a fake review.
The important things is to be level-headed, polite, and to the point. Like I mentioned in a recent video, when you write a response to a bad review, your response isn’t really for the person who wrote the review – it’s for every potential customer who sees it in the future.
That’s all the time we’ve got for this week’s video, so you know what that means.
Put your hand on the screen right here:
We totally just high-fived ‘cause you learned something awesome.
Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.