We all know how important online reputation is, especially to small businesses. While most bad online reviews that companies get are over very specific situations, they shouldn’t be ignored. According to a survey done by BrightLocal, 78% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If we were to look at 18-43 year old consumers, 91% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This is huge.
Reviews are essential to your business’s success. When a business starts getting bad reviews, they will start asking, “Can I remove bad reviews myself, or can I pay to have them removed?”
There is no way you can remove negative online reviews from any of the major platforms (Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.). This doesn’t mean, however, that they should simply be ignored.
Side note for those looking for that quick fix, if you come across any “business” that says they can remove bad reviews, they are lying to you. It is simply not possible. The only way for a review to be removed is by the user who posted it.
The only true way to handle bad reviews is to manage them. BrightLocal’s survey found that 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews. If there is a lack of reviews on a business’s end, this reflects poorly on them.
How can you manage bad reviews? Managing your bad reviews is simply the act of responding. When you are responding to customer complaints on any platform, there is one important rule to keep in mind.
You are going to come across situations where someone full-on attacks your business online. Those comments are out of your control, but something you can control is your response to those comments.
No matter the situation, you will need to apply the “customer is always right” mentality when responding. Simply put, you need to offer up an honest apology along with a “solution” to whatever their issue was.
A few examples of a “solution” to their problems could be refunding money, offering a coupon toward future visits, or simply a promise to fix the issue internally. This is an opportunity to show customers you’re willing to take responsibility for mistakes and go the extra mile to avoid those same mistakes in the future.
When potential customers see your willingness to correct any errors that occur, it makes them more willing to give you a try, despite the bad reviews.
Now that we have addressed ways to respond to real bad reviews, let’s talk about bad FAKE reviews.
While most review sites have a way to flag reviews as inappropriate, this process is very long and can sometimes be difficult to prove (if the review site even thinks that it’s fake to begin with).
The best way to combat fake reviews is to respond to the review with questions. Ask them specific questions about their visit and your establishment that could make it obvious to determine whether they were or weren’t there.
“Who was your server?” “Which room did you stay in?” “When was your appointment?”
When you respond with these types of questions, it shows that you care about your establishment and are looking for more information to correct the issue. For the fact that you can’t be 100% sure that a review is fake, these questions should be followed up with an apologetic comment such as “We’re sorry you didn’t have a good experience.” You don’t want to sound abrasive.
Bad reviews are constantly flowing for any business at any time of the year. One of the best ways to keep your customers from seeing bad reviews is to surround the bad with the good. And no, I don’t mean to ask your friends to go leave a bunch of good reviews. This is not only against the regulations of review sites, but they are cracking down on this (especially Amazon, Yelp, and Ebay).
As a business, you should put together a plan to suggest customers leave online reviews. This way, the number of people leaving reviews will increase, which will increase the number of good reviews. This also shows your customers that you want everyone to leave reviews, good or bad.
I feel the need to add a disclaimer to this. If your business has a lot of internal issues, you need to make adjustments in-house before you can expect good reviews to start rolling in.
Simply put, make sure that your business does its best to provide great customer service, and the rest is cake.
A lot of online reputation management is time-consuming. One of Team WTI’s specialties is online reputation management. We have access to software and the expertise to keep your reviews managed and maintained. To all of our clients, we offer advice, tips, and strategies to manage and improve your online reputation. If you are struggling with your online reputation management, give us a call.