What to Do If You Have a Bad Review - Virtual Stacks U.K. Ltd.
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Got a bad review

What to Do If You Have a Bad Review

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Your customers’ opinion of your business matters, especially online. Because of this, your products and services will only be perceived by your audience through the eyes of consumers who have spoken up about your business. This is what’s known as brand reputation. Your brand reputation online is developed over time through reviews, discussions on social media, and other digital platforms. While it might sound simple to buy your way into a positive reputation, this is both unethical and can likely cause an even worse reputation among potential customers who, as digital natives, are easily able to see through fake positive reviews.

Managing your brand reputation is now essential for all modern businesses. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at what is reputation management, how to handle a bad review, and what to do about fake reviews.

What Is Reputation Management?

Before you build your reputation management plan, you’ll need to know what reputation management is. The most simple definition of reputation management is the strategic process of influencing and improving how your brand is perceived by your audience online. It might initially seem impossible to be able to influence how others view your brand, but your business has more influencing power than you may realize. This is where a reputation management strategy becomes important.

There are two main pillars of maintaining a reputation management strategy: monitoring and responding. 

Monitoring — Monitoring is knowing what others are saying about your brand online, which can include customers, competitors or industry influencers. After all, you can’t develop a reputation management strategy if you don’t know what your brand reputation is to begin with. Review platforms like Google, Yelp, or other platforms relevant to your industry are great places to start your monitoring. You’ll also want to keep track of other web content — such as blogs — and monitor what’s being said about your brand on social media (a process known as social listening). Be sure to assign review monitoring as a specific responsibility for relevant team members in order to stay up-to-date.

Responding — Once you’ve started monitoring your reputation, you can then start the process of responding in order to create an authentically positive reputation. How your business responds to reviews — both positive and negative — is equally as important to your overall brand reputation. You will need to decide who in your business will be responsible for responding to reviews, the criteria a review needs to meet before your brand responds, and how you plan to respond to as many scenarios as possible.

Handle a Bad Review with Care

No matter your business or brand reputation, bad or negative reviews are bound to occur at some point. Gathering positive reviews is important, but it’s the negative reviews that your audience will remember more. That’s why you need to have a plan in place for appropriately responding to negative reviews, both for the benefit of your brand reputation and for the benefit of the unhappy customer. 

Here are some key steps on how to handle a bad review:

  1. Take action quickly — This does not mean you should respond immediately with an emotionally-driven response. However, responding to a bad review after 24 hours has passed can make resolving the negative experience more difficult. Take just enough time to understand the situation and draft a calm response.
  2. Gather all the information — Any single factor out of many can easily influence a customer’s experience. It’s important to understand the full context of the situation from beginning to end, including understanding the customer themself. Gaining a full understanding will better prepare you to respond, as well as better prepare you to respond to similar circumstances in the future.
  3. Respond with purpose — Make sure your response gets straight to the point by addressing the customer’s experience, taking ownership of the issue, apologizing appropriately, stating how you will fix or ease the customer’s concerns, and following through on your resolution. Even if your business is not at fault, it feels that way to the customer, so try to exercise empathy in your response.
  4. Clearly address the issue — Your response to a negative review will not only be seen by the dissatisfied customer, but it will also be seen by all future customers. A negative review can turn into a positive experience when the customer’s concerns are clearly addressed and resolved.
  5. Show appreciation for the feedback, in word and in deed — Don’t just copy and paste a generic “thank you” response. Show the reviewer that you genuinely appreciate their feedback, and show them that correcting the situation matters to you. Ultimately, your customers just want to feel heard. If your proposed resolutions are satisfactory to the customer, they may even remove it afterward.

What to Do If the Review Is Fake

Unfortunately, there will occasionally be individuals who leave fake negative reviews, which could happen for any number of odd reasons. Even if a review likely appears fake to you as a business owner, it’s still important to respond to the review the same as you would any other negative review, as is outlined above. This shows your customers and potential customers that your business values all customer concerns, and it is an opportunity to show that your business will make the effort to right any potential wrongs. 

Some additional tips to note for responding to fake reviews include:

  • Clearly addressing the situation and directly apologizing on behalf of the business.
  • Noting that the customer’s record with the business cannot be found (if applicable).
  • Offering to fix the concern and providing contact information for further discussion.

In the case of Google Reviews, you may also want to consider flagging or reporting the fake review to Google. You can do this by finding your business through Google Maps, viewing your reviews, clicking the three vertical dots to the upper right corner of the specific review, and selecting “Flag as inappropriate.” 

If further action is needed with Google for a fake review, you can check the status of the flagged review by going to the “Support” section of your Google My Business home page. For more serious false reviews that could be considered libel, you can also fill out a Google form for a legal removal request, but it is highly recommended to only pursue this final option with the help of a legal professional.

Review Management Is Part of Digital Marketing

Review management is just one part of a full digital marketing strategy, designed to maintain a positive brand reputation and connect better with your audience online. If your business is in need of review management services or a full digital marketing strategy, our experienced team of digital marketers at Virtual Stacks Systems UK is ready to help! Learn more about our comprehensive digital marketing plans, and contact us today to discuss the marketing needs of your business.

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