If you run a small business, whether a brick-and-mortar store or online, reviews are one of the best ways to boost your visibility, improve your reputation and encourage clients.
According to Brightlocal’s 2022 Local Consumer Review Survey, 98% of respondents read online reviews at least sometimes with more than two-thirds regularly reading feedback.
But what if those reviews aren’t showing your business in a good light? Negative reviews are to be expected, but dealing with them correctly can reduce their impact on your business.
Top 3 Ways to Deal with Negative Reviews
1. Respond to them
While you may feel like ignoring them, one of the best ways to deal with negative reviews is to respond. The Brightlocal survey showed that 89% of people were likely to use a business that responds to all reviews, even negative ones.
How to respond to negative reviews in the right way:
Respond quickly – Responding promptly shows that you are paying attention and it means you can deal with the problem swiftly and hopefully get the review dealt with quicker too.
Respond politely and don’t get personal – Sometimes reviewers can be mean. But that doesn’t mean you need to lower yourself to their level. Calling a person names, getting personal or becoming rudely defensive just looks unprofessional. And it will probably do you just as much, if not more damage than the original review.
Be transparent and try to solve the problem. – Things do go wrong, and if the negative comments are valid, then it’s best to acknowledge the mistake. Aim to show how you will rectify it and make changes to avoid it in the future.
Look to contact the person offline – If you can find the person’s contact details and reach out to them offline to arrange a solution. This might be rectifying the problem, offering them a repeat service, or, if their complaint is justified, offering compensation.
Follow up and ask for the review to be removed – Once the problem is fixed and the person is happy, you can ask them to remove their negative review. If they won’t remove it try asking if they will at least add a comment explaining the follow up service.
Don’t forget to respond to positive reviews too. When you get good reviews, take time to say thank you. If you can respond to part of the review to show you are really reading them.
2. Try to bury the negative reviews or have them removed
One way of dealing with negative reviews is to try and get rid of them altogether.
If you think the review is fake, or contravenes any of the site’s policies then you may be able to get it removed. On Google, violations can include things like use of bad language, inappropriate content, irrelevant reviews or legal issues.
However this can be a lengthy process depending on how quickly the sites review your request. Google, for example, normally takes at least a week to review your request to have the content removed. And there’s no guarantee that they will agree with you.
The other way of burying a negative review is to try and get more positive reviews. This will hopefully push the negative review down the list. To do this you will likely need several positive reviews. You could try asking regular customers who have not yet left you are review to do so.
Don’t be tempted to try and post lots of reviews yourself or get friends and family to do it for you. These will come across as fake and could get you into trouble.
3. Deal with reviews before they get online
The last way you can deal with negative reviews is to intercept some of them before they go online.
These days there are several companies offering review management services. They help you collect reviews from clients and funnel them. Good reviews are sent straight to review sites like your Google Business Profile. Bad reviews are sent to you to review and respond to. This helps you to deal with negative reviews before they are made public.
Whichever method you choose, dealing with negative reviews is an important part of managing your business’ reputation. Don’t forget to add it to your marketing to-do list.