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What to Do About Negative Online Reviews

people trust online reviews

Whether you want it or not, your business is already online. Various listings on social networks and online directories are often created without your knowledge through data collection and user input. For example, if your employee lists your company name as a workplace, Facebook may create a business listing for you. Similarly, online data aggregators like InfoGroup can access government sources and public company filings to create your business profile from this data.

So what does this all mean?

This means that (1) your business is already online and (b) people a free to talk about it and leave reviews.

Where Can People Review Me Online?

Numerous online directories and social media sites have functionality for the users to leave reviews. Some of the major review sites you need to worry about are:

  • Google Local business listings
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List (if you are a contractor)
  • Amazon (if you are a merchant)
  • Better Business Bureau

What if I Receive Negative Reviews?

Did you know that people are more likely to share bad experiences rather than good ones? It is unfair, but this is just how most people are wired. We expect good experience, so unless our expectations are greatly exceeded, it doesn’t seem necessary to praise the service. On the other hand, if the cook gets your order wrong several times in a row, you feel compelled to share this on Facebook or write a bad Yelp review.

Step 1: Don’t Panic!

If your business does get a bad review, first of all, stay calm. It’s not the end of the world. Nobody’s perfect. If it’s just one bad review among a dozen positive ones, it’s just a drop in the ocean. Besides, negative reviews can actually do you a favor by adding credibility to your overall review profile. Consider this: all 5-star reviews may look suspicious and fake, and having those few negative ones really balances out the whole picture.

Step 2: Investigate

Read the review and drill down to the nature of the complaint. Is it a complaint against a specific employee? Is it a general dissatisfaction with the speed or quality of service? Is this even your customer or is it a competitor trying to get ahead in the game? Don’t automatically assume that you are right and the customer is wrong (although sometimes it’s the case). Negative reviews offer a great insight into your business and help you find areas to improve. If you keep getting negative reviews, reconsider how you run your business. There is obviously a huge disconnect between customers’ expectations and your delivery of service or product.

Step 3: Respond

Don’t just leave that negative review sit there like a soda stain on your white shirt. Write a short and sweet response following these guidelines. Even if you plan on contacting your customer directly, still respond online so that other people see that you took action.

  • Address the person by name.
  • Apologize for their inconvenience even if you think you are not at fault.
  • Offer to further discuss this issue and provide a phone number or an email to reach you.
  • Don’t argue and be polite.
  • Sign with your name.

This approach allows you to show that you care about the reputation of your business and do your best to remedy the situation. Voila! You’ve just turned a bad review into a positive experience. Of course, if all you have is bad reviews, this system won’t work. But if you have just a few negative ones, people will see that you care about your customers.

Step 4: Follow Up

If you are offering help and further assistance, be sure to provide it. Make someone on your customer service team responsible for following up with the upset customer. If you manage to fix the problem, you could turn this customer into your biggest fan. They could even go as far as editing their bad review to reflect how helpful you’ve been.

Can I Have a Bad Review Removed?

With a few exceptions, the only person who can remove a negative review is the person who wrote it. That said, some sites will allow you to request removal of reviews that violate the site’s review policy. For example, Google may remove reviews that contain hate speech, advertising spam, off-topic reviews and several other types of content. However, in most cases, if it’s a legitimate review from a legitimate customer, it’s likely there to stay.

What About Fake Bad Reviews?

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation when a disgruntled employee is trying to get back at you by writing bad reviews. They may or may not use their own name, and could even create multiple profiles on different sites. A similar situation is when a competitor hires someone to deface your business reputation. In both of these scenarios, you absolutely have a case for getting those reviews removed, but this doesn’t mean it’s going to happen soon or at all.

Your best approach is to contact each site directly and explain the situation to the support staff. Smaller sites may be easier to reach, versus larger sites like Google and Facebook. Although they give you tools to mark a review as inappropriate, these requests often get ignored or backlogged. If everything else fails, respond to the review and explain that this is not a customer of yours.

When searching for a solution to your problem, you may find numerous companies offering to remove negative reviews from Google and similar sites. DO NOT TRUST these companies—unless they also work for Google or Facebook, they have no control over these reviews and can’t guarantee anything.

Preventing Negative Reviews

The best way to fight negative reviews is to prevent them from being published in the first place. You can do this by implementing better quality assurance procedures to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Or by making follow-up calls to your customers and resolving any issues before the customer calls you or goes online to write a bad review.

At Advantage Internet Marketing, we can help you both generate good reviews and stop the negative ones. We use a series of landing pages that not only make it easier for your customers to leave reviews, but also catch the negative ones and direct them to your customer service.

Contact us today if you need help getting more online reviews for your business while avoiding the negative ones.

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