Whether you’re a business owner or a consumer (or both), there's a good chance you have interacted with review websites like Yelp and Google My Business. If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably looked through your business’s reviews countless times. If you’re a consumer, chances are you have reviewed a business before. But what is the real effect of online reviews in this day and age? According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means that consumers are reading your business’s reviews and making purchase decisions based on the content of those reviews.
However, just because reviews can contribute to your business’s success, that does not mean negative reviews will cause your business to fail. While having all positive reviews would certainly make life easier, negative reviews happen, and they happen fairly often. It is how you deal with negative reviews that will affect a consumer’s perception of your business most.
So, how should you deal with negative reviews?
Follow this four-step guide as soon as you notice any poor reviews left for your business to execute quick and easy damage control.
First and foremost, know the guidelines! Carefully read through the unique guidelines of the review platform to ascertain if the negative review you are addressing violates any of their guidelines. If it does, report or flag it. Here are two quick links to review Yelp's and Google's.
Here is how you’ll go through the process of flagging or reporting the review on Google My Business and Yelp:
When looking at your reviews on Google My Business, hover over the review and you will see a small flag icon appear next to the date of the review. Click on this flag.
From there, you will be directed to Google’s Report a Policy Violation page. Carefully select which violation the review is in violation of, provide your email address, and click Submit.
Log into Yelp for Business Owners with the appropriate logins for your business. Then proceed to the navigation item on the left that reads Reviews.
Once there, locate the review in question and click the flag next to it.
Select the most fitting reason for the policy violation, provide comments if desired, and click Submit.
A prompt response to a negative review is a critical and often neglected step of reputation management. Respond by signing into your business’s Google My Business, Yelp for Business Owners, or other review website account. Locate the review on your business’s profile and you should see an option to reply.
Note: If you are required to be HIPAA-compliant, be sure to read into these restrictions before responding. We recommend familiarizing yourself with these specific policies before replying publicly.
As hard as it may be to admit, the customer could be right. Think about the core issue of the review and do your best to address this. If the complaint was about a team member, speak to that team member and do your best to ensure the issue will not happen again. There’s nothing worse than 10 reviews about the same issue - that gives a lot more credibility to those reviewers. Therefore, it’s important to not only respond to your reviewers but resolve the issues they’ve addressed.
If a negative review sticks around, you will have a lower average rating because of it. While most people looking through reviews do consider context, it is best to have a higher average rating. Take a look at your competition’s review profile, noting their average rating and volume of reviews on various platforms. Once you have gathered this information, set realistic goals that will help you work towards besting competitors in these areas.
So how do you get a higher average rating and an influx of new reviews? This is a whole separate guide in itself, but here are some quick tips to get reviews in a fair, unobtrusive way:
With this guide, your business will be well prepared if a negative review ever surfaces. However, the best way to prepare for the worst is by being proactive rather than reactive - talk to your team and get familiar with these steps sooner rather than later. And may the reviews be ever in your favor!