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Online reviews are quickly becoming one of the most visible barometers of a business’ success from an outside perspective and a major factor in drawing in new customers. In fact, recent surveys conclude that more than 70% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and more than half of people say a good review will make them more likely to patronize a particular business. That’s great news for businesses that already have stellar reviews on sites like Yelp or Google Reviews, but what about companies that have gotten unflattering or even scathing reviews?

If you’re a business owner who has noticed a bad review online, recognize that you aren’t alone. Every business has had to deal with a negative review at one time or another. And the good news is most Internet savvy customers have come to expect a few negative reviews from time to time. Another consolation is a survey that showed more than 40% of customers saying their decisions are more influenced on price and location than (either positive or negative) online reviews.

Of course, there is some bad news when it comes to negative reviews and that is that it’s virtually impossible to have a negative review removed completely. Large sites like Yelp have a policy of not removing reviews, instead, relying on its own filtering system meant to weed out fake reviews. The site does however allow businesses to post comments in response to unsatisfied customers.

If your business has been given a bad review, there are a few things that you can do to help counteract any negative effects. First, read the review with a level head and see if there are any valid points or constructive criticism that can be taken from the review. If possible, try to find out who wrote the review, so you can contact them directly and try to make it up to them by apologizing if needed and offering to right the situation. If you can’t contact the customer directly, you may be able to post a response to the customer on the review site. Doing so will give you a greater chance of them revising their initial review if they have a better experience the second time around. Try to respond as quickly as possible and only promise things that you can deliver on. This tactic will require you to constantly monitor mentions of your business on a wide variety of social outlets.

Along with responding to negative reviews, an equally, if not more important strategy is to engage the customers who already love your business by encouraging them to write their own reviews. Google Reviews shows the most recent reviews first so encouraging your supporters to write reviews means positive responses will most likely turn up first in Google searches. Don’t promise to reward your customers for writing a review, because that can give the impression that your customers can be bought. Instead, when a customer is genuinely happy with a product or service you provide, simply ask them to write a review. You can also encourage your employees to ask repeat customers to post reviews.

Lastly, be sure to focus on spending your marketing dollars toward positive buzz that will translate to your overall social media strategy, rather than wasting your time trying to get negative reviews removed. You’ll be more successful and save yourself a number of headaches.


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