How to Manage Negative Online Reviews

Negative or false content online can significantly impact the reputation of both businesses and individuals.

Customers write negative reviews for all kinds of reasons: they felt ignored or disrespected by staff, they don’t like the quality of a product, they feel they’ve been overcharged, or they’re just crabby.

Negative reviews should be seen as a second chance to impress your customers. A chance to win them over with excellent service and customer satisfaction. The following steps will show you how to handle, respond and fix any negative reviews left by dissatisfied consumers.

It’s understandable that after all your hard work and dedication, you’d expect every customer to appreciate your product or service, but that’s not always the reality.

In today’s digital age, consumer opinions live forever, in the form of online reviews.

These comments are generally left on popular sites like Amazon customer reviews, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.  Plus, lately, more people are writing reviews on a variety of social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Businesses alike can’t get away from the opinions of their customers, but who would want to? Given that more than 50% of shoppers consider online comments before purchasing a product.

Once those reviews are published online, they have big impact.

1. Look at it as an opportunity

The first thought that comes into people’s heads when this happens to them is simply to have the comment removed. However it very difficult to have a review website agree to take a comment down, for obvious reasons. If all the negative reviews were taken down, the review website simply wouldn’t be helpful to visitors.

Instead, view this as an opportunity to showcase your customer service and maybe even show readers your side of the story. We wouldn’t recommend pushing your own view too passionately (avoid getting into a fight) but acting professional and suggesting ways that you could make it up to the individual.

If done correctly, you might be able to convince the person (and the others reading the conversation) that you made an honest mistake and hope to be able to make up for it.

2. Make every effort to resolve the problem

Good customer service should be a priority no matter what industry you are operating in. If someone has a concern about the service provided by your business, you should try to restore the relationship and be polite and mature in all correspondence with the person regardless of their tone. This can win you over customers as it shows that you’re a professional and deals with complaints as such.

Responding to Customers

In most cases of negative reviews, the best case scenario is that you change the customer’s mind and get them to remove or update their review.

  • Responding Publicly

Posting a response to a negative review gives you a chance to win the unhappy customer back, and show others that you value customer satisfaction. It also gives you a chance to (politely) refute any claims with which you disagree, or apologize for any wrongdoing on your part. A word to the wise: 

 Don’t respond publicly to online reviews if you don’t have a the-customer’s-always-right attitude.
  • Responding Privately

If you’d rather settle the issue privately, you can try to reach the customer directly. Send them a message asking them to call you to discuss the problem. If the customer responds, you can ask for more detail about what happened and figure out how to resolve the issue so it doesn’t happen again. Then you can ask if the person is willing to remove the negative review… or better yet, update the review to make it a positive one.

  • Not Responding at All

If the review was written by someone who’s trying to damage your business, your best bet may by bypassing the customer and going straight to the review site…

Getting Reviews Removed

In some cases, you may be able to get the site where your negative reviews are posted to remove them, but only if they meet certain criteria.

Yelp

Yelp will only remove reviews if they:

  • Are written by someone with a conflict of interest.
  • Aren’t specifically about the writer’s experience with your business.
  • Include inappropriate material like hate speech or personal information about employees.

If you feel that a review written about you falls into one of these categories, report it so that Yelp administrators can review it.

  1. Log into your Yelp account for your business. (If you haven’t already created an account and claimed the business as yours, you’ll have to do that first, using Yelp’s Find and Claim page.)
  2. Navigate to the Reviews section of your account and find the negative review you want removed.
  3. Click on the flag icon to report the review.

Google

Like Yelp, Google will remove reviews that include inappropriate content, conflicts of interest or off-topic commentary. Google will also remove reviews that include contact information, infringe on copyrights or advertise for other businesses.

You don’t have to be logged into any account in order to report a Google review.

  1. Visit Google Maps and enter your business name and city in the search fields.
  2. Find your business in the results list and click on it.
  3. Click on the link that shows how many reviews you’ve received.
  4. Find the review you want removed and click on the flag icon.
  5. Fill out the “Report a policy violation” page, which asks for your email address and the review’s violation.

Facebook

If a review doesn’t meet Facebook’s Community Standards, you can report it for removal. The standards cover a broad range of things, but they’re very similar to Google’s. Anyone with a Facebook account can request that a review be removed.

  1. Search for the business’s Facebook page and find the review in question.
  2. Click on the V-shaped symbol in the upper right corner of the review.
  3. Click “Report Post” and follow the prompts.

In all these cases, you can’t get negative reviews removed just because you don’t like what they say. That’s why it’s so important to prevent negative reviews from happening in the first place.

There are generally three sources of fake reviews:

  • Trolls: yes, believe it or not, there are people who prefer to spend their time posting inflammatory comments on the internet – for no justifiable reason at all. You can generally remove these reviews, and you ought to report them whenever possible.
  • Disgruntled employees: some ex-employees may attempt to sabotage former employers because they feel aggrieved.
  • Competition: your competition may view negative reviews as a way to slow down or halt your success.

Here are some most useful tips we have collected, for managing these sorts of reviews.

As a passionate business owner, you will develop a knack for sniffing out these frustrating reviews. Remember to always be professional and not personal.

When faced with a fake review, that you can’t get easily removed, react to it as you would if it were real. See it as a chance to show the professionalism of your brand.

Kindly greet the customer. Since the review is fake, you’ll have no registered invoice or evidence of transactions conducted between their party and your company – make this clear them and everyone else.

And especially when reviews are fake, you’ll find gaping holes in the story being told. Calmly call out these gaps in your response – handle fake with finesse.

For example, “we are sorry to hear about your experience, but after looking, we have found we have never carried the brand of xyz product you mention. Nor do we deliver outside of the UK is it possible that you have reviewed the wrong company? Please let us know as we’d still be happy to help.”

What not to do:

Do not confront fake reviews by branding them with “Fake review! Fake review!”

Simply because you say, “This review is fake.” doesn’t mean your audience is going to believe it. You’ll most likely achieve the exact opposite of your intentions. Be calm and be professional.

Points To Remember

  • Never lose your temper. Do not take it personally. Always keep it polite and professional.
  • Only address genuine concerns. Never let a bully draw you into an online shouting match.
  • Be direct and straight to the point. Use correct spellings and grammar. Leave no space for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
  • Thank reviewers for taking the time to bring bad experiences to your attention. Show them that you have awesome customer service. Show some empathy, it goes a long way.
  • Apologize when you are at fault. Do not take responsibility for those things you weren’t at fault.  
  • If you are dealing with an online bully, just walk away. There is no appeasing them.  

Nothing mitigates a negative review better than a good number of positive reviews. Positive reviews will push down the negative ones and your customers are likely to ignore a few bad reviews if they see a lot of good ones.

No matter how perfect your products or services are, there will always be someone to criticize you. Do not let these criticisms ruin your business. Learn to make use of criticism to grow your business.   

Take ownership of all your social media profiles. Closely monitor the conversation happening around your brand name. Respond to negative reviews quickly with great care.

As always, feel free to reach out to us if you need any help with your digital marketing campaigns.

Make it easy for your happy customers to leave reviews. You can even reach out to them and encourage leaving positive comments.  Develop a strategy and get creative!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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