The RIGHT Way to Handle Negative Local Business Reviews
The sway of online reviews continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. A number of studies have taken the wraps off the fact that consumers view online reviews as the second most trustworthy source of information, second only to recommendations from friends and family. There is no doubt that glowing reviews will help your local company a great deal by bringing in new business to your doors and making online reputation management more effortless. In a similar fashion, negative reviews can be absolutely toxic to your company’s image and lower your likelihoods of making a name for yourself in the local market.
Negative experiences described by your past customers — even if they are fabricated — will naturally cause review readers, your potential customers, to be skeptical of doing business with your company. In many cases, those who read these negative reviews will prefer to do business with one of your direct competitors. That being the case, it is no surprise that business owners are constantly trying to learn how to do away with negative reviews — and you should too.
Did you know? Back in 2012, a Virginia contractor sued a woman for $750,000 for posting negative reviews of his company’s work on the popular online review sites Yelp and Angie’s List. Well, you do not need to do that. Pressing charges on a reviewer is, of course, an extreme reaction and may cost you even more customers than a negative review would in the first place. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five (more) viable options for dealing with negative online reviews.
1. Respond Well or Don’t Respond At All.
Many local companies choose to simply let all their online reviews be there. This is not a terrible approach seeing as even responding to bad reviews can be tricky business. Nevertheless, even if you decide not to respond, at least read your reviews. It is easy to recall what you are doing well and shelve bad reviews as the work of a bitter rival. But too many negative online reviews can hurt your business, so it is better to hear the bad news. It may turn out that there are indeed issues of which you have been blind to. Once addressed, the bad reviews will fade into the past and be replaced with rave reviews. And if the reviewers note the positive changes (we have seen this a lot), previous and prospective customers can be assured the problems of the past have been patched up.
If you do decide to reply to a negative review on the review site, on the other hand, it is important not to blame or insult the customer. Do not come across as defensive or sarcastic and do not get dragged into hashing out online the specific details of their experience. Reviews are mostly read by your potential customers, so they are more likely to side with your disgruntled guest if it feels like an argument is taking place.
How To Address Negative Reviews Diplomatically?
Never get into an argument or use sarcasm. State that you are truly apologetic that the customer had a bad experience and that you take their genuine concerns sincerely. Emphasize your steadfast commitment to quality and let everyone know that you or your staff are available and trained to address problems right away because your goal is to be sure everyone leaves a satisfied customer. This will make it easier for readers to empathize with you, a compassionate business owner, and serve to cushion the blow of the negative review. Needless to say, this only works if there are only a few negative reviews.
2. Contact The Reviewer.
Negative reviews are often written by customers in a moment of frustration. Instead of writing off someone who wrote a negative review, write to him or her. Businesses often find that consumers who have a bad experience simply want to have the problem sorted out and will even be willing to promptly remove bad reviews they have written if the company makes an effort to rectify the situation. In fact, extensive research has shown that consumers who have a problem with a company and have that problem corrected are actually more likely to recommend the brand to others in the future than are customers who have no issues to begin with.
3. Contact The Review Site.
When reaching out to the reviewer does not turn out well, it is time to reach out to the review site. Most sites have systems in place that you can use to request removal of certain controversial reviews. Depending on the site, a review might be eligible for prompt removal if it is too vague, mentions a competitor by name, or is one of several reviews written by the same reviewer. In order to remove negative reviews, however, you will need to build a compelling case for why the review should not be posted.
4. Build Up a Bank of Good Reviews.
There is no reason to be at the mercy of review sites and reviewers when you can take pragmatic and proactive solutions. It is better to build up a base of good reviews than to be caught off guard by excessive bad reviews later. What’s more, the fewer reviews you have in general, the more the bad ones will stick out. So, stack the deck with good ones by encouraging the quiet, happy customers to speak up.
Turn Mistakes Into A Customer’s Feel-Good Story.
Mistakes are going to happen, but when you have built an environment in which your staff knows that an unsatisfied customer experience is unacceptable, correcting mistakes can be a major opportunity. A bad situation that gets promptly corrected creates a perfect little mini-drama. As long as the story has a happy ending, their journey from initial high hopes to the problem to peaceful resolution creates the perfect anecdote for your customers to share online and with their friends. As long as there is a hero you provide in the form of an attentive staff member who does what it takes to fix the situation, someone’s initial displeasure can be turned into a cute story to share. People love these types of vignettes with a happy ending.
5. Hire a Professional
Rather than trying to work with reviewers and review sites directly, opt to work with an online reputation management company instead. These firms are known for their ability to remove or suppress negative content in online search results for clients who need a reputation repair, but many of them can also manage your online reviews. Since professional reputation management companies have more skills and resources than you have, they will be able to try to get to the bottom of negative reviews and determine whether or not they are legitimate. On top of that, these organizations will be familiar with the steps that one needs to take to contact review sites for review removal. Hiring an online reputation management company to remove bad reviews will end up saving your time and ensuring that the job will be done right.
Take Steps To Control Reviews Today
Local review sites like Yelp can be a boon, a bane or just part of the background of doing business in today’s online world. Pages of glowing reviews can drive new customers excitedly in the door. Still, as a business owner, you should know that too many bad reviews, or even one harsh accusatory one, can do untold damage. Let the team of online experts at Click4Corp help you get your local business back on the right track. With our reputation management services in Dallas, TX, we can help shine a positive light on your business. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can give your online reputation a leg up and take you miles ahead of your competitors.