3 Overlooked Features on Google My Business

The Google My Business platform is a valuable, free marketing tool that any local business or chain store can use to improve its presence on Google Maps. The very basic functions of this platform allow people to find the location of your business and read/write reviews . However, many businesses fail to take advantage of some of the most beneficial features on Google My Business and do not unlock its full potential. Let’s fix that!

1) Reviewers Get Notifications When You Respond

In the event that your business receives a negative review, the best move is always to respond in a way that is professional and timely, while addressing the customer’s complaint. Doing this gives you a chance to win back your customer while projecting a good image to the public.

The Google My Business feature now sends an email notification to reviewers once the business has responded, increasing your chances of having your response being seen and your customer’s mind being changed. Here’s a screenshot of what that looks as discussed on Google’s Community Forum:

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When you post a response, the notification from Google will reach the customer’s inbox after five minutes. During this 5 minutes window, you can make any changes to your response in case you notice any mistakes or simply want to alter your response.

2) Google Questions and Answers

If left unnoticed, Google Questions and Answers can hurt a business, but it can be used in your favor if managed properly. Google Questions and Answers is a relatively new function that allows users to post their questions about the business on a public forum and for others to provide answers.

Many business owners are unaware of this feature or simply don’t bother to respond. The danger with that is potential misinformation being posted if a user answers a question inaccurately (which happens surprisingly often). This can cause a customer to be deterred from your business or to approach it with false expectations. In any case, whether misinformation is being told about your business or not, not responding on this function is a missed opportunity to engage with potential customers and draw in business.

Another tricky aspect of this feature is the fact that Google does not send businesses notifications on new questions. Fortunately, Reputology’s system can send you alerts any time a new question is posted. If you are able to answer questions politely and quickly, ideally before misinformation is posted, you can expect to see those people turn into customers.

3) Google My Business Descriptions

This feature is seeing its resurgence by Google and should appear on your Google My Business dashboard soon if it hasn’t already. As a business owner, this is your chance to use up to 750 characters to make a statement that will draw in customers. This function is different from a meta description; it will appear right below the reviews section on your business listing and can be more detailed and creative.

This description is a golden opportunity to really sell your business to a potential customer when they may not have actually clicked to view your website before. If writing isn’t your strong suit, and if you don’t have any internal writers within your company, you may want to consider hiring a copywriter to write your description for you. You want to make sure the description concisely and accurately advertises key selling points to readers, while being compelling and engaging. By posting a description with keywords geared towards your market, you will also give your SEO a boost, allowing potential customers to find you before your competitors.

Any opportunity for free marketing ought to be used to its full potential. By taking full advantage of the features on Google My Business’ platform, you can build your company’s reputation, win customers, and watch your success story unfold.

“Not a normal human being” (How NOT to respond to negative reviews)

Watching a business owner meltdown over a negative review is one of those unique phenomena that can make you cringe, laugh and feel embarrassed all at once. In our blog series – “How NOT to respond to negative reviews” – we’ll take a look at some poor responses and breakdown what to do/what not to do with bad reviews. That way, your business never shows up on here. 😉

This ugly interaction between an unsatisfied traveler and hotel owner has more than its fair share of problems.

Problem 1: The response is rushed. Everything about this response, from the tone it takes to the numerous typos, suggests the owner didn’t take the time to think about an effective response. It reflects poor professionalism to anyone reading the review. (Now, this might have been intentional because the owner wanted to be nasty, and we’ll get to why that’s not a good move next).

Give yourself a moment, then respond. Yes, time is of the essence when your business’ reputation is on the line. Calm down, think of a response that reflects the values you want others to see in your business, and proofread it.

Problem 2: The owner gets hostile.  “There must be something wrong with you.” Yikes. The owner makes public what should have just stayed in his head. The reviewer is clearly being irrational complaining about the hotel not having a bathroom for his/her dog, yet the owner manages to make him/herself seem just as irrational with the response.

Take the high road (even though it’s hard). Again, this discussion is public, so calm down. It will only look good to prospective customers that you can handle a negative review with grace. You might dislike the reviewer and don’t want to say sorry because you weren’t wrong, but you can express regret for the bad experience. That way, you’re also showing empathy and not being fake about it because you do regret that someone wrote a 1 star.

Problem 3: The finger pointing. The rest of the owner’s response mostly consists of accusations (not to mention the impossible claim of having zero complaints in 18 years). This shows immaturity and can exacerbate the issue, potentially leading to a back and forth argument.

Respond with the facts, politely. In this case, the owner should have highlighted the hotel’s commitment to quality and outlined the policies in a matter-of-fact fashion. This approach works in defending the reputation of the hotel, without coming off patronizing or defensive. Any other discussion of what may have happened during the reviewer’s stay is subjective and should be out of the public eye.

It’s fair to assume this hotel owner lost the business of this reviewer and potentially anyone who came across the response. If you run into a similar situation, try to remember these tips or use this handy infographic to figure out the best way to respond to a negative review.


Doctors Reply Poorly Too

We’re back with another misadventure in “How NOT to respond to a negative review”. This time, a doctor is faced with a seriously frustrated patient and throws a fit. 

Here’s why the doctor’s response is no bueno:

The doctor doesn’t seem to know about HIPAA: The reviewer remains anonymous perhaps as a way to act rude and not be held accountable or face any retribution. It’s not fair. But any medical professional should be well versed with the confidentiality and privacy laws surrounding patient medical information (in the US it’s known as HIPAA). Although the reviewer is the one who willingly discloses some details of his or her medical information. the doctor should have acted in the patient’s best interest and attached contact information to immediately take the conversation offline rather than insult back (“childish and abhorrent”) and maybe prod the patient to reveal more information.

There’s no room for a conversation: Even though the reviewer comes off as intense, they appear to bring up some legitimate frustrations. They certainly aren’t being a “cyber bully” as the doctor puts it. Medical facilities, no matter the size or scope of practice, are often very complex and may have strict policies that can be frustrating but necessary to keep things organized. Following treatment plans can also seem needlessly tedious if left unexplained as well. The doctor closes the door on an opportunity to clearly explain the policies and treatment plan that may have been the source of frustration in the first place, both by responding unprofessionally and by failing to post contact information to further the discussion offline.

The doctor goes on an ego trip: While it’s certainly tough to hear criticism, it inevitably happens to the best in the business. Instead of responding professionally, this doctor chooses defensive and demeaning language to try to belittle the reviewer. The finishing line is a dead giveaway that this doctor is simply carrying an inflated head on his/her shoulders. In situations like these, it’s always best to stay humble, make an apology, and keep it professional.

Though the reviewer makes churlish remarks, the doctor’s poor response seems to validate the reviewer’s accusations. If this doctor had responded politely and offered to address the frustrations privately, it’s possible the reviewer would have edited or taken down this review or at least let potential patients see the doctor is in fact professional.

For more in this series of “How NOT to reply to a negative review”, check out: