We all know by now that more and more people are using their cell phones to find products and services.
In fact, Google Maps is the most used smartphone app, used by 54% of all smartphone users. That's a lot of online Local searches.
Google themselves have produced research showing that over 55% of people doing a search on their phone take a conversion action within 1 hour, and 84% of mobile searchers take a conversion action within 5 hours.
So then why is it that there are so many businesses on Google Local with unanswered negative reviews? Do businesses think in 2015 that no-one uses Google?
Is This for Real?
The other day, a client asked me for some advice on what to do with their negative reviews in Google Local. Well the obvious response is to answer negative reviews, politely and personally.
So I pulled up some Google Local results to get some examples of companies doing it right, and I found... nothing.
That's right, I couldn't find a single good example of someone answering negative reviews well in their Google Local results. And it got me thinking... for Real?
Let's not even get into how Google may penalize your rankings if you have bad reviews.
A recent study shows that, 93% of Millennials usually read reviews prior to making a purchase. And that while only 77% of them trust reviews on brand websites, a whopping 97% of them trust anonymous reviews.
So rest assured, people are reading those reviews of your business in Google Maps. Assuming Google is bothering to show you at all... it's getting harder to find examples of 1 and 2-star reviewed businesses in Google Maps..
Why it Matters
Now, even the best run business is going to get a negative review from time to time. From a customer service person having a really bad day, to supply problems completely out of your control, bad stuff happens. But not responding to a negative review can cost you money.
If you're a Fish and Chip restaurant, and a prospective customer does a search and sees this, do you think you are going to get the order?
Or is this competing restaurant in the same area going to get the call?
I know which one would get my call..
Big Brands Behave Badly
Small businesses are always crunched for time, and don't always have someone who can dedicate the time to hunting down and responding to every negative review made about them. So it's understandable if a lot of small businesses don't have responses to their reviews.
What I find really surprising though, is the number of brands with truly terrible ratings, and absolutely no response at all.
Here's a big-box retailer, and these are the top 3 stores that come up in Toronto, a major metropolitan city with almost 3 million people in the city, and over 8 million people in the surrounding area:
Looking in to the actual stores, negative reviews are going unanswered on a consistent basis:
How about this major telecommunications company - more than 2 dozen reviews, mostly terrible. This company will sometimes respond within minutes on Twitter, but no response in a year on Google?
How about a major retailer with many locations? Nope.
How about these very specific, and respond-able complaints about a major shipping company? Nope, nothing.
It doesn't make sense. It's not like people don't use Google to find shops and services..
There is Hope: How To Remove A Negative Review
When someone leaves a negative review, there is hope. You don't have to live with that stain on your reputation forever.
Take this example of a customer who took the time to change their review because of a conversation they had with the manager. This is a fast food restaurant, not a highly considered purchase! And they took the time to change the review, because the concern was addressed.
And if responding to reviews isn't doing the trick for you, you could always take a more humorous approach, like the owner of Voltaire restaurant in Kansas City did on a Yelp review:
What It All Means
Respond to reviews, don't let them sit. If someone sat outside your store telling people about your bad service, you would address it, right? So don't let people sit outside your virtual door on Google Maps telling people about your bad service without addressing it.
Addressing complaints is just good business.