Editor Note: This blog has been updated to provide relevant information for 2019.
Did you know that 97% of consumers checked online reviews for local businesses in 2017? Or that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
It’s clear that we’re in the age of the internet, and there’s no going back. If your business is being haunted by a bad online review, your brand and your reputation face serious damage every time someone searches for your business or your personal name.
After working with countless customers to create review management solutions, we’ve developed the following four steps to handle negative online reviews:
Bad reviews are posted every day, affecting businesses of all sizes, from all industries.
When you spot a bad review of your firm, avoid a kneejerk panic reaction and know you aren’t the first, nor will you be the last, to be impacted by negative items online. The best response is to research proven ways to deal with the situation, which you’re already doing since you’re reading this post.
Keep your calm and don’t post any responses that could further inflate the issue.
Assess the problem
When you first discover a bad review of your business, you might be tempted to ignore it completely. After all, what harm could come from letting the bad review lie?
We hear this misconception all the time. Unfortunately, refusing to acknowledge that the review exists or do anything about it puts you at risk of customers seeing bad reviews at the top of Google’s search results, showing your business front and center, but in the worst light possible. From there, the negative feedback can easily be viewed, shared and associated with your business anytime it’s searched.
Identifying Real and Fake Reviews
To determine a review’s validity, ask yourself a few questions:
- Was the reviewer an actual client and not a bot, disgruntled ex-employee or competitor?
- Did the experience described in the negative review really take place?
- If so, does the review provide an accurate description of what happened?
While tricky, determining the review’s authenticity is essential to know how best to move forward.
The most important thing here is to acknowledge the issue at hand and identify a solution calmly. Doing nothing ultimately gives the review continued, increasing influence on your customers and unnecessary power over your brand.
Make a Plan
If Questionable: Research and Remove
To maintain credibility, popular review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and RateMDs have established processes for filtering out spammy, malicious and false reviews. These processes are not perfect, however, and fake reviews can easily slip through the cracks.
If the negative review is veritably false or malicious, read the site’s terms of service to locate steps for removal. If your assessment falls within the scope of these rules, contact the site to get the removal ball rolling.
If Valid: Research and Respond
If the review is true and negative experienced validated, look deeper into the incident being described. Talk with employees and others involved to get the necessary background. Do everything necessary to equip yourself with as much information as you can before you prepare a public response.
REMEMBER: Do your best to see the problem from the customer’s perspective. If this is a first-time review or issue, it may be best to respond to the reviewer privately, at least before issuing a reply on the public platform. Finding solutions and addressing the underlying problem behind the scenes can mend fences with the client so they remove or change the review on their own volition.
Tips for responding to reviews publicly
If your efforts at private resolution either don’t produce a workable solution, failed to reach the customer or weren’t feasible to begin with it might be time to respond on the review site itself.
Now’s the time to take a thoughtful and measured approach. The following tips will help:
- Be positive.
- Thank the client for the feedback.
- Explain that you’re researching and addressing the problem.
- Offer to make it right.
Sometimes a private or public response will generate positive feedback from the reviewer. The client may even delete the review completely. In either case, your efforts are worth it.
Keep in mind that this process may take a while and that by the time you’ve achieved any sort of positive response or resolution, the bad review will have been online and searchable throughout the entire communication.
In this case, we recommend hiring an expert to help address the negative aftermath of a bad review.
Encourage Positive Reviews from Your Customers
Did you know that 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business if you ask them to? Responding to negative reviews is important, but when you demonstrate that the review isn’t the only thing people have said about your company, it’s even more powerful.
Encourage your existing customers to review their experiences with your company in order to better control review generation and flow. This gives you a better chance at heading off a disastrous review before it dominates your online reputation.
Bring in the Experts
In addition to asking existing customers to leave reviews, smart business owners delegate the task of review management to a team of experts such as those with Internet Reputation. As an online reputation management company, we offer review management campaigns to collect more positive reviews, mitigate negative reviews and turn any negatives into positives.
That’s right, one bad review doesn’t have to ruin your reputation. In fact, under our watch, we can actually make your negative review do nothing but make your company look more authentic. No company is perfect by any means, and the correct response can altogether nullify a terrible review.
Negative online reviews happen to every business. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with the issue at hand. Instead, put a strategy in place to quickly and effectively respond to when negativity comes up.
Educate yourself on the many online review sites available, monitor the online conversation surrounding your brand and use the power offered by reputation management to place your company in the best possible light.
Call us at 1-888-711-7843 to set up a free consultation or click here for additional information.