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Web Presence Management: Google Reviews Revisited

Google is king and, as such, we must truly tune in to the importance that Google – and the public – is placing on reviews.

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

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This online review thing is becoming a bigger and bigger deal every day. Google is king and, as such, we simply must truly tune in to the importance that Google – and the public – is placing on reviews. We should learn as much as we can about reviews. You should start leaving Google reviews for other businesses. Become so familiar with the process that you can guide others to do so, too, especially for your business. You should be checking reviews for goods and services you purchase so you’re in touch with how millions of people make purchasing decisions. Then, and only then, will you really get it. By doing this, you’ll understand why you need to manage your business reputation much better than you probably are right now.

Good and Bad

Google search rankings are positively impacted by good reviews for your business. Conversely, poor reviews will negatively affect your rankings, and, just as bad, negatively impact someone’s decision on whether or not to entrust the care of their vehicle to you.

The Millennial generation considers it their civic duty to leave reviews. “I must save others from the mistake I made by choosing this shop,” they think to themselves as they click one star for the shop that dropped the ball, communicated poorly, took longer than expected, forgot the owner-request item they mentioned during the drop off, etc. Or, “What a great experience this was! They made it so easy and my car looks great. I have to tell everyone how awesome this shop is.” Then they click five stars and describe their positive experience.

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Seeking Reviews » When you deliver a vehicle back to the owner, ask if they were happy with their experience and what you could have done better. Ask happy customers to leave you reviews. Google is most important, then probably Facebook. We provide our clients with handouts that can be included with final paperwork that remind the customer to leave a review.

Google’s Review Guidelines

Google has specific policies related to reviews. Google says these must be “honest representations of customer experience.” One of the most common questions we get is, “Can we get negative reviews removed?” The answer is: It depends on the circumstance. There are specific circumstances in which Google reviews may be removed. Here are some of them:

  • Advertising for some product or service.
  • If the reviewer shares an email address, URL, physical address or phone number.
  • The review has to be about the business itself. This might apply for some of you when a customer is upset with the insurance company and their involvement in the repair rather than what the shop actually did, yet the review hits the shop instead.
  • Reviews that are obscene, profane or threatening.
  • Reviews must be authentic from the actual customer.
  • Posting illegal content with links to spammy material is prohibited. Illegal images uploaded in a review will be reported to law enforcement.
  • Content that violates copyrights.
  • Speaking out against people based on race, religion, gender, disability, age, lifestyle choice or gender identity.

Wait! Can’t reviews be removed because you disagree with them or simply don’t like them? No. Some service providers are claiming they can get bad reviews removed, but they cannot. You’re stuck with those unless you can connect with the reviewer, make things right and have them update their review afterward.

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How to Reply to Google Reviews

Engaging with your customers is always desirable. Here’s how to reply to reviews and engage with your customer after the repair, something we at Optima Automotive advocate should be done for both good and bad reviews:

  • Your business must be verified with Google.
  • Sign in to your Google My Business account.
  • Find and click on “Reviews,” then click “Inbox.”
  • Find “Reviews from Google Users,” then click on “View and Reply” on a review. Respond, be sure to thank them for taking the time to leave the review, then click “Submit.” Responses are to the reviewer, but they’re also open to the public. Don’t be defensive. Always come across professionally. Don’t get into a two-way online argument with the reviewer.

We coach our clients on this daily. Highlight your high CSI ratings, high-star ratings, tenure in the community, etc., because this should instill in others that this was an isolated incident and everything else looks good. No one expects a business to be perfect.

Flagging Reviews

To flag a review for removal that doesn’t meet Google guidelines, follow these steps:

  • Go to Google Maps.
  • Enter your business name and address, and select it when it comes up on screen.
  • Look for the panel on the left, scroll to “Review Summary.”
  • Under the average rating, click on “Number of Reviews.”
  • Scroll to the review you wish to flag and click on the flag icon.
  • Fill out the form in the pop-up window that appears, then click “Submit.”
  • Be patient; it takes time for flagged reviews to be addressed, and you may not be happy with Google’s action or inaction.

One final note: Don’t set up review stations or kiosks in your shop. The IP address of the device you provide for reviews will appear over and over and Google will disregard them quickly and never post them.

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