Best Practices for Managing Negative Online Reviews

A person leaves you an unhappy review of your product or service online. What do you do? Do you lose faith in your business, or do you end up ignoring the customer and their review? 

The number one thing is that you should never ignore them! Online reviews work a lot like word of mouth referrals. Consumers are likely to read others’ experience with your business before betting their money. 90% of us read online reviews, and usually, the top six reviews help determine our buying decision. You need to understand that no business is perfect, and you’ll never be able to please everyone. Receiving negative reviews is not always bad news, as it gives you the opportunity to address the issue raised, and improve in the future. Keep a close on eye on incoming reviews and use these tips to manage them. 

Firstly, let’s discuss the most frequently asked question – “do negative reviews impact my SEO?” Search engines such as Google rank your visibility based on the volume of reviews, diversity of reviews, and most importantly, whether you are responding to those reviews or not. In other words, a few negative reviews are not going to harm your position in search engine results.   

Here’s how you are going to tackle negative reviews:  

1.  Review them actively! 

Online review management is basically your online reputation management. You can consider assigning a couple of members to regularly monitor your online listings. You could also use platforms such as review trackers that discover reviews from various listings, and prompt you via notification. We highly recommend businesses to claim all your listings in order to help you stay across all incoming negative or positive reviews by your customers.  

2.  Respond Quickly! 

Responding to reviews is a crucial strategy for every business. If customers have gone out of their way to leave you a review either positive or negative, they expect you to respond in a timely manner, we suggest within 24 hours. You don’t want them feeling you don’t care about their experience with your business.   

3.  Be Sincere and Empathetic! 

Your responses should reflect a genuine concern toward your customers’ bad experience. This will also indicate to other customers reading reviews that you take their feedback sincerely. Don’t get worked up around those cold nasty words by an angry customer. Instead, be professional, understand what they are saying and be polite with your response. If it’s a situation that cannot be rectified, then take your time to solve the problem or explain the situation offline. Here’s how you can respond: 

4. Follow Up! 

If you succeeded at resolving their complaint, fantastic. Be sure to ask the customer to consider removing, updating or editing their review to reflect the outcome. Even if you can’t turn a one-star review into five-starts every time, it’s okay. Your response and efforts will be seen by potential customers, leading your business to gain credibility and integrity. Don’t forget credibility is an important factor for every business! 

5. Combat Fake Review! 

You are likely to receive fake reviews from competitors or people with a personal vengeance to hamper your brand image. Here are a few ways you can identify fake reviews: account profiles with limited information, your business is the only review they have written for and are generally short. Best way to combat fake reviews is by flagging them “inappropriate” to the review site and request them to take it off. 

As I mentioned earlier, negative reviews open-up that window of opportunity to improve your service or products, and help you better engage with your customers. Here is a link to other useful articles to help you build your online reputation.   

Dhwani Dave

Dhwani is a Public Relations and Marketing enthusiast who has a natural knack for creating strong content and strategies. Currently she works as a Marketing and Communications Specialist for ReachLocal Australia and New Zealand, looking after both internal and external communications. When she's not busy promoting our brand, she's actively promoting life on Instagram, making short singing videos, enjoying yum cha, planning getaways and exploring the city's best cafes.

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