How to Respond to Google Reviews for Your Funeral Home
By Haley Laurence, Digital Marketing Supervisor
What’s one of the first things you do when looking for a business or service in your community?
You likely head to Google.
In fact, according to Review Trackers, about 64% of people look up a business online before interacting with it. When they’re making their searches, they’re trying to find information to make one company stand apart from the rest. It could be as simple as picking the first search result. Or checking on each company’s rating. They might even read the reviews to see others’ experiences.
Needless to say, Google reviews are extremely important for your funeral home.
The benefits of Google reviews
Why exactly are Google reviews beneficial for your business? Let’s break down 3 reasons.
First, they provide social proof.
This concept was studied by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In his book, he wrote, “We determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.”
For example, if you’re unsure what business to trust, you’re likely to seek out reviews, approvals, or feedback from an “endorser,” which could be a friend, celebrity, or your community. That’s because you perceive them to have more knowledge about what should be done. And you trust reviews because those people have experience with a company, whereas you do not (hence the Google search).
Social proof for your funeral home looks like video testimonials, case studies, Google reviews, social media engagement, and any other feedback from someone that vouches for your business.
Second, they help you reach consumers online.
Having replaced the Yellow Pages, Google is now the primary way people find businesses. Statistics show Google has a massive 92%+ market share compared to other search engines. The next-highest search engine is Bing, coming in at just 3% usage.
That means Google reviews make your funeral home easier for families to find, especially if it’s near the top of the results page when a family searches for “funeral home.” And you can get near the top of Google with paid ads that can ensure your funeral home is above your competition. Check out our service here.
Third, they improve your website traffic.
More positive Google reviews increase the chance that people will visit your website. How? Google displays your review ranking below your business profile. And if you have a lot of 4-star or 5-star reviews, your business will be ranked higher in the search results because Google sees your business as popular.
Therefore, Google will want to connect people to your business by pushing your website near the top of Google’s results page.
Those are the 3 main reasons why you should focus on getting positive reviews for your funeral home.
Surprisingly, replying to Google reviews you receive is just as important. Below is a brief guide to help you respond to Google reviews the right way.
How to respond to Google reviews
Did you know responding to Google reviews makes your business appear 1.7x more trustworthy than businesses that don’t respond? It also shows there are professional humans behind your business who care about the products or services they provide. Plus, it improves your search ranking so you show up closer to the top of Google. However, 63% of people say they’ve never had a business respond to their review.
I’ve had clients (who’ve never responded to reviews) ask how far back they should go to respond. While you don’t have to reply to all old reviews, especially from years ago, definitely go back and respond to reviews from the last 6 months or so.
But to post a powerful reply, you must choose your words carefully. These responses will be public, and the reviewer will get a notification that you’ve replied. It can be hard to not take a negative review personally, but you don’t want to appear defensive, rude, or unprofessional, even if you disagree with the reviewer.
There are a few rules to follow for responding to every review:
Make it timely – Try to respond to the review within the same day. The sooner, the better. It improves your search ranking!
Address the reviewer by name – If a name is attached to the review, use it! It will make the review more personal.
Be professional – You’re representing your business. Use proper grammar and be respectful and courteous.
Don’t be too advertorial – A reply to a review isn’t the place to promote your business. Save the sales tactics for your website.
Sign off with a rep from our funeral home – Determine who will respond to reviews and sign the reviews to make them personal.
But there are different strategies for responding to positive, neutral, and negative reviews. Let’s break down each type below.
Responding to positive reviews (4-5 stars)
This is every business’ favorite type of review to receive. It serves as validation that your funeral home and staff served a family well. Plus, it improves your businesses search engine optimization (SEO) on Google.
To reply to positive reviews, you’ll want to first thank them for sharing their story. If they mention someone by name, let the person know you’ll pass along the kind words. Also, follow up with that person directly via email, call, or text to thank them personally.
Here’s a sample review:
“[NAME], thank you so much for sharing your experience with our funeral home. We’re thrilled to hear that you [include a detail from their review to make it personal]. We appreciate your review.”
If they leave 4-5 stars but don’t write a written response, a simple thank you sentence will do.
Responding to neutral reviews (3 stars)
For neutral reviews (3-stars), address the person by name and thank them for sharing their thoughts. Make a point to reinforce the positive parts of the review and address the negative. Don’t ask them for details about a negative experience in your response. Provide contact information for the reviewer to follow up with you and take the issue offline.
Again, if they leave a review but don’t write a response, thank them for leaving the review and provide contact information for the reviewer to send specific feedback about his/her experience. Treat feedback from these reviews as ways to improve your service.
Responding to negative reviews (1-2 stars)
For negative reviews (1-2 stars), follow the two steps above, apologize for the experience (if it was something within your control to fix), sympathize with their situation, take responsibility for what happened, offer to make things right, and take the issue offline. If you suspect the negative review is fraudulent or spam, you can flag the review with Google and see if you can get it removed.
Responses to these reviews are tricky to get right. That’s why, for our clients, we provide exact copy-and-paste templates they can use for their own reviews.
Start getting more Google reviews through aftercare
In order to craft the perfect response to Google reviews and reap the benefits of having them, you need to work on getting them! And that starts by asking families for them.
We understand asking families for a Google review can be tough. We know you don’t want to bombard them with requests. But you should definitely ask for them. Avoid mistakes by reading 10 dos and don’ts of getting Google reviews here.
Your aftercare program should be helping you get Google reviews in the first place. If it’s not, you’re missing out on capturing families’ attention online and driving people to your website.
Not only do we work on getting more Google reviews for the funeral homes that use our aftercare program, but we handle everything else and help funeral homes improve their reputation and market share. Learn more about it here.