What to Do When You Get a Bad Review - Virtual Stacks U.K. Ltd.
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Women shocked over one star review

What to Do When You Get a Bad Review

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In the digital world, reputation is everything for a business. Online reviews that customers leave about your business can directly affect your reputation and future business success — or failure. Genuine, five-star reviews should be the goal of every business, but it only takes one negative review to change a potential customer’s mind about purchasing your products or services. This is why review management services are crucial in today’s competitive market.

According to BrightLocal, 91% of customers aged 18-34 trust online reviews and place them on par with direct recommendations from people they know. Additionally, 68% of people surveyed in 2018 stated that positive reviews help them trust a local business more. Negative reviews alone can stop up to 40% of interested customers from engaging with your business.

Do you know what people are saying online about your business? Have you recently received a negative review and are looking to improve your online reputation? Are you simply looking to expand your review management strategies? No matter your purpose, every business can benefit from developing their reputation management plan.

Why Do You Need Review Management?

Online reputation management ensures that your brand gets the best possible image in the digital marketplace. The goal of online reputation management is to help your prospective customers see your glowing positive reviews first when they search for or come across your business online. This means negative reviews get buried below authentic positive reviews as much as possible in order to maintain a positive brand reputation, along with employing effective strategies for appropriately addressing any negative reviews that could arise. Review management strategies are especially crucial in the face of a crisis for your business.

The world is becoming quicker-paced every passing moment. No one wants to waste their valuable time deciding between products and services from different businesses. Consumers want to make their decisions in an instant — which is where online reviews play a vital role. A single negative review at the top of your Google My Business or Yelp listing can be an immediate deterrent, even if it doesn’t accurately represent your brand’s reputation. Curating genuine positive reviews from customers and quickly addressing the concerns of negative reviews are the two most important sides of a review management strategy.

Beyond review management, a well-rounded online reputation management strategy also encompasses SEO methods, high-quality web content, third-party review website monitoring, and social media management.

First and Foremost, Don’t Panic!

If your business has a recent negative review on your Google My Business Listing, Yelp, or other review website, there’s no need to panic. Yes, negative reviews can potentially deter prospective customers, but negative reviews are also bound to happen from time to time for any business. Developing a review management strategy will ensure that one or two negative reviews won’t damage your entire online reputation.

Let’s consider some of the best practices for dealing with negative online reviews:

You should NOT… 

  • Ignore the review and hope no one pays attention to it — Online consumers aren’t just looking for how others view your business; they also look to see how your business responds to others. Ignoring a negative review makes it seem like your business doesn’t care about its customers or about resolving problems.
  • Become defensive or shift the blame to the customer — Even if the situation referred to in the negative review is very inaccurate, it certainly feels accurate to the customer. Blaming the customer and not owning up to any responsibility makes your business appear very unwelcoming. If the customer is at fault for the incident, there is no need to push that point too hard in your response, or else the exchange might get nasty (see the next point).
  • Start an ongoing argument — There is never a reason to engage in a lengthy exchange with a customer over a negative review, as this will likely result in far less-than-polite words from both parties. If an unhappy customer insists on continuing to respond with anger or with unreasonable claims/demands, they are probably an internet troll just trying to see how much they can get out of the situation. Getting involved in an online argument makes your business look petty and unprofessional.
  • Demand new positive reviews — Having a negative review at the top of your business reviews can seem scary, but there is a danger in pressuring customers for new positive reviews or in order to bury the negative one. Pressured reviews often end up sounding fake and off-putting, especially when sandwiched between negative reviews from customers with genuine concerns. There is a difference between demanding positive reviews and asking for honest ones from your customers.

You should…

  • Respond apologetically and with acknowledgement — Customers want to feel heard and recognized for their unsatisfactory experience. Very few are genuinely looking to cause an argument. Apologizing for the situation, even if it was not entirely the fault of your business, and specifically addressing the customer’s concerns will not only make your business appear caring and empathetic to other online users, but also will be likely to make a positive impression on the customer who left the negative review.
  • Tastefully highlight the positive elements of your business — You don’t want to sound defensive, as we covered above, but it can be helpful to politely note the unusual nature of the customer’s less-than-ideal experience with your business. This can play very well into acknowledging their concerns and apologizing for a situation that should not have happened. Use the strengths of your business in a professional manner to appeal to the customer in your attempt to resolve the issue.
  • Be genuine — Customers can get even more frustrated if your response to their negative review feels scripted or too generic. Repeatedly replying to negative reviews in the same way will also be a red flag for prospective customers. If possible, have your staff sign review responses with a first name and last initial, identify their title/position, and provide contact info like a direct business email. Show your customers that your business is made up of real people just like them, who genuinely care about making sure they have a positive experience.
  • Engage offline, if necessary — There is no point in having a public spat with your customers. If you have to pacify an irate customer, try to engage with him or her offline by providing your direct business contact information. You should put forward a sincere response first, and then take the discussion offline if the issue cannot be immediately resolved. However, it is important to feel out the situation for whether or not it is safe to directly reach out to the customer.

Professional Review Management Services

If you just don’t have the time to keep up with monitoring your business’ online reviews, or if you need to quickly respond to multiple negative reviews, you may want to consider professional review management services. Virtual Stacks Systems UK provides online review management services that can help you respond appropriately to negative reviews, keep track of your brand’s status across multiple online review platforms, stream positive reviews directly to your website, and more! Contact us to discuss your review management strategy.

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