As a small business owner with a website and online presence, it’s likely that you’re going to receive some negative reviews at some point in time. After all, it’s impossible to please everybody.
However, some of these negative reviews can really hit home, and it can leave you feeling sore and frustrated. They say the customer is always right, but sometimes they can be downright unreasonable. If you’ve received a negative review, you need to deal with it quickly so it does not damage your bottom line. If you do not, the credibility and reputation of your business are at stake.
A majority of consumers say positive customer reviews help them trust a local business.
But how do you know what reviews on your business are out there? There could be a number of places consumers can leave reviews. As a rule of thumb, visit Google and do a search on your company name. Act as though you’re a potential customer and try to see everything from their perspective. This will give you a much clearer idea of what your customers see and how they will perceive your website.
QUICK TIP: Head over to Google Alerts and set up an alert so that anytime your business is mentioned online (when somebody leaves a review), you’ll receive a notification so you can address it as soon as it’s uploaded!
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
Once you found a negative review, what do you do? To help you get started, I’ve got 6 methods you can use to approach and handle these negative reviews in a professional way. This will help you maintain your website’s professionalism and ensure that only good comes from bad.
1. Respond to Each Negative Review & Offer a Private Resolution
The main problem that needs to be addressed with online reviews is the fact that they are public. It’s online for everyone to see and judge your website on.
If you were to start handling the problem with the customer on the review site, such as Trustpilot or SiteJabber, everybody could see the conversation unfold, and if the customer is having none of what you have to say, you could be doing more harm than good.
When dealing with a negative review, be sure to address the review online so other online users can see that you are doing so – but then ask the customer to contact your email address, so you can privately solve the problem offline.
2. Respond to ALL Customer Reviews
Hand in hand with the consideration above, it’s also important that you set aside time each week to reply to all your reviews, both good and bad. This shows that you care about your customers, even after they have made a purchase.
This is especially important when it comes to replying to bad reviews. If you don’t reply, and customers see this when you’ve been replying to positive reviews, it can send out two messages:
- You don’t care about your customers
- You’re scared to address problems that your business has
Of course, most of the time, this isn’t the case. Yet, this is how your customers will perceive you. So, you’ll need to address them!
Keep your responses short and to the point. Try to keep them under 100 words.
By replying to each and every review, you’ll show any future customers that you’re there for them, both pre and post sales.
QUICK TIP: Consider the language you’re using when you address a review. If the customer is happy and had a good experience, match this by using smiley emojis and saying that you hope to see them soon. However, if your customer is upset, don’t come across as sarcastic or patronizing with emojis. Remain professional and neutral.
3. Cover up the Bad with the Good
One tactic you can use to get rid of your negative reviews is to encourage your happy customers to write good reviews to dilute your bad ones.
Unfortunately, most happy customers won’t write a review by themselves. If a customer had a good experience with your business and the service was as they expected, they’ll typically walk away happy and that’s it. However, unhappy customers are more likely to leave a review because they had a negative experience.
So always reach out to happy customers and ask them to leave a review. You can encourage them to do so using email marketing messages or offer incentives such as discounts to customers who leave an honest review.
DID YOU KNOW? When a customer leaves a good review, you must remember that they are having a good experience with your product/service and that their customer journey has ended – so they will be going out of their way to leave you feedback. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so!
Try to have your good reviews outnumber your bad ones 10 to 1. For example, if a potential customer checks out the reviews of your website and sees you have 100 reviews – of which 90 are good and 10 are bad – you’re still likely to win him or her over.
4. Using SERPs Against Negative Reviews
Similar to the technique listed above, sometimes one review site is destined for a downward path, and all you seem to be getting is negative reviews. Even if they are old reviews and you’ve changed your ways, these reviews will still come back to haunt you.
With this in mind, it’s pretty difficult to try and get these reviews diluted using good ones. So, what can you do?
The answer; draw your focus to another website.
If you can build up and encourage people to leave good reviews of your updated service on another website, similar to the consideration above if you have one website full of negative reviews and one full of positive, this is still a balanced view to a new customer and it’s a lot better than just having a load of negative reviews on the website.
5. Learn from Your Mistakes
An important thing to consider is what the reviews are actually saying about your business. Maybe there’s a service or feature on your website that you’ve overlooked, and it needs to be addressed.
You might think that you’ve made your business perfect, but at the end of the day, you’re not the one using it. Your customers are, and if they have something to say, you should listen.
Look for truth in the review that you’ve been given and see if it’s something you can change. You can also check out the user to see if they’re an online troll and have left many other reviews on other companies and whether their feedback is legitimate.
Here’s a checklist of things you need to consider when monitoring negative reviews.
- Is there truth in the statement?
- Is the review fair?
- Is the reviewer a legitimate customer?
- Is this a reoccurring problem noted in reviews?
- Is this something you’ve overlooked?
As you make your way through this checklist, it should be easy to see whether or not there’s something that needs to be improved within your business.
If you’re going to change something on your website and the user has actually found a problem with your website, be sure to let them know and thank them for letting you know and making you aware of the situation.
Criticism can be hard to take but is worth taking as it can lead you to new heights of success.
6. Request a Removal of the Negative Review
If worst comes to worst, it may be worth contacting the review company to see whether they can take the review down. Of course, most review websites are open platforms where their users are allowed to speak freely about their experience with a website, so they may be reluctant to take it down.
However, if you have a legitimate excuse, an exception can be made. Most platforms will remove abusive reviews from trolls or factually incorrect reviews/lies.
There have even been cases reported where competitors may pose as customers to give your website bad reviews so that real customers are much more likely to go over and shop on their website.
Make sure the review is legitimate and from a real customer. As a small business owner, you’ll likely remember the actual customer from the review. If one of your coworkers dealt with the customer, ask them. If you indeed find out that the review is fake or from a competitor, you should be able to report it.
Of course, receiving a negative review about your business is going to make you feel horrible, but it’s not the end of the world. By taking the necessary steps, you can counteract the negative effects of a bad review and transform them into a positive thing for your business. If you can take the negative feedback objectively, and not personally, you’ll also learn something along the way and discover new ways to improve.
Always remember always to address any problems that your website might have first and then deal with the reviews. The customer experience should always come first.
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