Let’s be honest. If you own a website you are likely to be reviewed on some type of external website. And I’m not talking about your fabulous reviews that you showcase on your own website.
These external review websites are pretty much completely out of your control. On top of this you cannot control what people say on these websites.
These days’ people can virtually say whatever they want, regardless of whether it is true or not. However, it is important to remember that the truth is usually subjective and everyone has their own version.
Unfortunately for you, people are more likely to believe, trust and make a decision based off a review from a customer about the business. Search Engine Land explains that now almost 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
And Bussines.com explains that:
“80% of consumers changed their minds before purchasing a product due to a bad review”.
You can see just how much impact a negative review can have on your brand’s reputation.
This means that just a few negative reviews could severely impact your ability to gain new customer and keep existing ones. However, it is important to note that not everyone is going to have a 10/10 experience. The fact of the matter is that you will probably receive a bad review at some point.
It is how you deal with the negative review that counts.
When it comes to negative reviews you have a lot of different options! So don’t think all is lost just because you get one little negative review. Ever major brands such as McDonalds, Woolworths and Cotton On receive bad reviews.
Have a look below at some of the negative reviews from the above brands:
See even the major brands aren’t immune!
So what can you do? Well, you are probably thinking, “I want to get rid of them!”. And that’s understandable. I am asked how to get rid of negative reviews by my clients all the time.
However, unfortunately it is very difficult to get rid of negative reviews and usually takes A LOT of time and effort. So before you tackle the huge challenge of getting rid of your negative reviews, have a think of whether you actually have the time.
Alas, all is not lost! There are so many other strategies you can use to handle negative reviews (I will talk about this later!). These strategies are, for the most part, easy and quick to implement and you tend to see results faster than if you tried to get your negative reviews deleted.
Getting Rid of a Bad Review
If you find that you’ve received a negative review and you believe it is totally wrong and want it gone, that is understandable. The customer isn’t always right and sometimes there can be an ulterior motive behind their particularly bitter review.
All external reviews are important; however there are some that must take priority. These are the reviews in places that your potential and current customers are most likely to see when they search for your brand.
The places where customers usually look are Google and Facebook. So it is important to check for negative reviews here and focus on getting rid of any bad reviews you find.
When you search for your brand name on Google a business profile will usually be displayed on the right side of search results. Take SEO Shark for example:
Here you will be able to find your rating out of 5, how many reviews have been made, as well as your rating on other popular review websites. When you click on the link where it says how many reviews have been made (for SEO Shark is says “28 Google Reviews”), you will see this page:
Here you will be able to have a look in greater details all the reviews left by your clients.
If you find a negative review you particularly don’t like, there is no magic button that will make it disappear forever. However, there is a flag button:
This flag button allows you to mark the negative review as inappropriate. You will have to provide Google with a good enough reason as to why the review should be removed. Normally it is because the review breaches one of Google’s guidelines.
For your Facebook profile, the process of attempting to remove a negative review is quite similar.
Here is what a typical review page on Facebook looks like:
To report a negative review on Facebook:
Like Google you can’t instantly remove a post just because you don’t like it. You will have to report it and if it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards or guidelines, they will remove it.
Alternatively, you can remove reviews from your Facebook profile altogether. Although this is a very drastic option and should only be used as a last resort.
If this doesn’t work or you feel as though it is actually taking waaay to long then it is best for you to move to another strategy. Look at ways you can minimise the damage done by any bad reviews. And I can tell you that most of the time this is the easiest and quickest option.
Listed below are some of the top strategies to use when handling a negative review:
Ask for more reviews
Usually the most recent review takes up the first position. Therefore the more recent reviews you have, the more the negative review gets pushed done. Meaning, you are sort of hiding the negative review from customers.
To do this you can ask other customers to review your business. However, try not to encourage them to only give positive reviews. Tell your customers that you really want their true opinion on your business.
By sending out an email encouraging reviews, you are letting your customers know that there is a place for them to voice their opinion. Make it easier for customers to review by leaving links to external review sites on your own website. As well as this, if you have a physical store, you can place a sticker in the window or a sign at a cash register asking for reviews.
Try not to be too forceful on customers, sometimes they simply just don’t want to give a review. Also, you should never fabricate your own reviews!
When you receive a bad review it is important that you reply to their message. Even if you know you and that customer will never see eye to eye about that situation, it shows all other potential and current customer that you actually care about them and you want to resolve the issue.
If the negative review is of a particular situation you can also respond by explaining your side of the story. Most potential customers will be objective when reading reviews and it is better for them to see both sides of the story.
You should say in your reply that you apologise for the situation and are willing to offer compensation for their poor experience. On top of this, you should also explain that you take the situation very seriously and will be private messaging the customer to talk in more detail about how you can resolve this issue.
Sometimes you are even able to change the customers mind. They could possibly comment on the review they made saying how the business truly does care about their customers and ensuring everyone has a positive experience.
This would neutralise the negative review. In fact, many customers would like to see this type of review (a negative turned positive), because it actually shows you are putting in the effort to guarantee all customers are happy.
Even if they don’t reply publicly, at least it will show others that you have done everything you can to take positive action. If they don’t reply then there is really nothing you can do about it, you can’t force them to talk to you. At least you tried!
Here is how SEO Shark publicly responded to a negative review left on Google:
In this situation we explained our side of the story (i.e. we didn’t think he was a customer with us), as well as telling him to contact us directly and provided him with compensation so he could try our services. However, he did not reply to our message so there was not much else we could do. Although, now everyone else can see that we actually did try to fix the negative experience this customer had.
When you receive a negative review it is important that you respond to the message privately as well. You should be 100% committed to fixing the situation and it shouldn’t be all just for show (i.e. replying publicly but not following it up). This has the potential to make the customer even more upset and you could actually be digging yourself a deeper grave.
No matter where the review is made you should usually have the option to respond privately. If not, publicly ask for some sort of contact details so you can get in touch with them. If they don’t respond and provide an email address or something similar then there is really not much else you can do.
In your response there are a few things to you should include:
- Introduce yourself and explain your position within the business (i.e. manager, owner, etc.).
- Say thank you to them for using your business and providing them with feedback.
- Apologise for the situation and explain they you are looking to rectify it.
- (Potentially) Offer some sort of compensation for their troubles.
- Say that you look forward to hearing back from them and fixing the situation.
You can respond using these 5 steps without actually admitting your business is at fault if you feel like you truly haven’t done anything wrong.
It can sometimes be difficult to offer compensation if your business is a service. You could explain to the customer that your employees are now aware of this issue and it won’t happen again. If your business operates in the service industry you could offer the customer a discounted fee to try your service again.
Negative reviews are never fun. At first thought you may want the review gone as quickly as possible. And that is totally understandable. These days consumers are heavily impacted by reviews and they are more likely to trust an online review more than what a business says about itself.
The problem with reviews on external websites is that they are fairly hard to remove. Usually you have the option to report a review to website. However, they do tend to take their time and will only remove a review if it breaches their guidelines.
In the case of negative reviews, you are probably better off spending your time resolving the situation with the customer rather than trying to get the review deleted. Negative reviews aren’t all bad and there is always a way to put a positive spin on an undesirable situation.
By asking other customers to leave a review you will push down that recent negative review. Customers also look at the balance of positive to negative reviews. So if you have a small amount of negative reviews they won’t be too alarmed, especially if you have an overwhelming amount of positive reviews.
It is always a good idea to respond to the review both publicly and privately. This shows to other customers as well as the customer in question that you really care and want to resolve the negative experience they had.
Got negative reviews? If you need assistance with brand management and reputation, we are the team for the job! We make sure you always put your best foot forward. Contact us today at 1300 732 002 to see what we can do.
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.