By Katie Sheldon
“88% of consumers using the internet will look toward online reviews before making their purchasing decision.” – Trustpilot
“I got an awful review on Facebook (or Google or anywhere else). What do I do?” Working with small- to medium-size businesses, this is a question I hear on the regular. Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t always simple – there’s a lot that goes into it.
As you know, online reviews are important: nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 39% do so on a regular basis. Here are some tips and advice on how to handle negative online reviews. You never know, you may even be able to turn that negative review into a positive!
Your First Reaction
“How do I remove it?”
This is a common reaction to negative reviews. Unfortunately, more goes into dealing with the review than just removal. Online review sites such as Urbanspoon, Facebook and Google want reviews to be honest and candid to provide their users with the best experience. However, you can get a negative review removed if the review is clearly fraudulent, harassing and/or malicious by reaching out to the review site and/or flagging the review.
The Game Plan
“Should I respond to the negative review?”
Negative reviews can be tricky. Almost every article written about dealing with online reviews will tell you that responding is paramount. Providing a response will show the human side of your business, which is especially crucial to small businesses. However, it is crucial to respond carefully.
If you respond to every negative review with “I apologize for your experience, come back again for a free meal (or gift card, or product),” you might prompt people to leave negative reviews so they can get something for free.
It’s best to respond privately first, then publicly. You may be able to address the customer’s concern and mitigate the review. Then, when you respond publicly, you can provide an account of how you’ve addressed your upset reviewer’s concerns.
For example, reach out via telephone or Facebook message and address their concern. A great public response, after addressing a review privately, is “Thank you for taking the time to discuss this issue further with me. I am glad we were able to rectify the situation for you. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to improving our customer experience.”
“What can I do to fix it?”
Since you can’t remove your negative review, the best way to “fix it” is to get more positive reviews. One bad review in a sea of positive reviews looks a lot better than one lonely negative review. Ask for feedback from your regular customers and happy new customers to help grow your online presence.
Some Positives About Negative Reviews
Let’s take a look on the brighter side.
- Negative reviews actually make your business more credible. Consumers are suspicious of businesses where the online reviews are overly positive. They assume you’re paying for reviews. But if your online reviews include a variety of sentiments, positive reviews are seen as authentic, and negative reviews don’t carry as much weight. Most people understand reviews are part of running a business. You can’t keep everyone happy all of the time.
- Negative reviews provide insight into your business. Reading negative reviews and viewing them as how people are actually experiencing your business can show you where you can improve. Maybe you need to change your processes or rethink an employee you recently hired. This kind of insight can help you continuously improve and grow your business.