Sooner or later, no matter how good you are, your business will get a negative review. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Negative reviews can be incredibly damaging and need to be addressed in order to help curb how consumers perceive you.
How Reviews Impact Businesses
According to Brightlocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That’s powerful in its own right. Now consider the following key takeaways from Brightlocal’s 2016 study:
- 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to
- 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
- 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
- 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important
Perhaps you didn’t know just how powerful reviews can be. And while not always under our control, it’s imperative to face negative reviews head on in order to diminish their impact. Here’s how.
Publicly Respond to Negative Reviews
When someone leaves a negative review, you should respond. Let’s say someone doesn’t like your service. You need to respond directly. First, apologize. Be genuine and tell him or her this is not a typical experience with your business. Explain to them what you’re going to do fix the situation. Let’s say they had a bad meal at your restaurant. You should let them know you hear them, you’re sorry they didn’t have a good experience and that you would like to make it up to them. A good model to follow comes from Upwork, who provides the following advice for responding to negative reviews:
Publicly apologize for their experience. Let them know that in the X amount of years you’ve been in business, their experience is not standard. Invite them back in for another experience and let them know you will make it right. If possible, let the consumer know the steps you have taken to make sure the situation won’t happen again.
Privately Respond to Negative Reviews
In addition to publicly responding to negative reviews, you should do your best to track down the reviewer and reach out privately. By taking the issue offline, you’re working to prevent a back-and-forth situation that could draw even more unwanted attention to the negative review. The following, from Business Queensland, provides great insight for how to approach reaching out to a negative reviewer:
- Send a short message to the reviewer
- Introduce yourself
- Thank them for using your business
- Thank them for their feedback
- Apologise for the fact that their experience didn’t satisfy them
- Outline what you understand to be their concerns.
Ask for Reviews to be Removed that Violate Policies
If you believe that a review violates a policy, contact the site and ask for it to be removed. Each site is different, but reviews that contain things like personal and confidential information, hate speech, phone numbers and emails as well as sexually explicit material or copyright content are considered violations and can be removed. When requesting reviews that violate policies be removed, be patient. It can take several days or more for the review to be removed.
Encourage Positive Reviews
As we noted in the beginning, negative reviews are going to happen. Do your best to address them when they happen. More importantly, focus on getting positive reviews. Here’s why:
- They increase engagement and people to reach out more readily with your business.
- They help improve your search engine optimization (SEO)
- They provide consumers with social proof that you’re a good business
- They help build immediate consumer trust
- They give you and your business priceless feedback