How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews and Tips on How to Increase Positive Reviews

Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.
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Picture this scenario. You are having a great week. You nail your presentation at the industry conference, your proposal was accepted by the client you’ve been chasing for months, and your article was just published in a well-known journal. What could go wrong? You take a break to check social media and notice a negative online review about your company. Ouch! Take a deep breath and read on.

Bad online reviews are more common that you may expect and happen to the best and most reputable businesses. It’s how you handle these negative reviews that count. This article will discuss reputation management of your business, how to handle negative reviews and increase positive reviews.

In  2018 Bright Local conducted a Consumer Review Survey and found that 86% of consumers read an average of 10 reviews for local businesses (95% of people aged 18-34) before trusting a business. More than half of the consumers surveyed will only use a business if it has four or more stars, and 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Negative online reviews can have an impact on your business, but that doesn’t mean you will lose business. Most, but not all, negative reviews should be responded to as soon as possible. Instead of quickly posting a defensive reply, think about what you want to say, and keep it professional and polite without making excuses or placing blame on other people. If necessary, provide a contact number or email for the reviewer to reach out and discuss the matter offline.

Once you speak with your client and let them know you are committed to providing solutions, you can ask them to edit their review. If they do, be sure to follow up with a thank you.

How To Remove Negative Online Reviews

It’s difficult to have a negative review removed, but you can report it. Here are the guidelines for a few  crowd-sourced review forums:

  • Google My Business allows users to flag content that violates their review policies. Make sure to read these policies before you flag a review for removal and be patient as it can take several weeks for Google to respond.
  • Yelp will remove a review if it violates their content guidelines. On their website, Yelp outlines when they might remove a review:
    • The reviewer has an apparent conflict of interest.
    • The reviewer doesn’t focus on the reviewer’s own consumer experience.
    • The review includes inappropriate material.
  • Facebook allows you to report reviews by clicking on the icon indicated within the review. You must be logged into your profile to report a review. (See the image below.)

The quality and quantity of a business’ reviews on Google My Business is a vital ranking factor for local SEO. When someone searches for local products or services in Google, the business listings that include customer reviews are viewed with greater credibility and typically receive more clicks. It is also a differentiator for potential clients looking for services, who may be more likely to choose a business that has a high Google star rating over a lower rated one.

To maintain a high rating on Google, businesses need to actively and continuously request reviews from happy customers. Keep in mind:

  • About half of the clients you reach out to are likely to leave a review, if they are asked.
  • Offering incentives in exchange for reviews is unethical.
  • The goal is to secure at least 3 to 6 reviews.
  • Recent reviews are given more credence than reviews that are months or years old.
  • The goal is to raise the star rating to 4 – 5.
  • Skepticism of online reviews is rising; authenticity is key.

How to Reach out to Clients for an Online Review

Here is a sample email message to a client. Messages should be personalized to the individual client:

Dear CLIENT,

 

Thank you for relying on .  We appreciate the trust you placed in us. I am reaching out today to ask if you would submit a star rating and review on the firm’s Google business listing.

As I’m sure you know, reviews are an important part of a business’ online reputation. Other people who need the same kind of help that you did are trying to decide whom to trust. Sharing your positive experience through a Google review could be the deciding factor in leading that client to choose (business name).

Here is a link to our < Google My Business Page, Facebook> where you may leave a review.

Thank you again for trusting us. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

How to Reach out to Colleagues and Business Partners for an Online Review

Here is a sample email message to a colleague or nonprofit partner. Messages should be personalized to the individual person or organization:

Dear CONTACT,

 

is proud to support your organization. . I value our relationship greatly.

Today, I am reaching out to ask if you would consider submitting a star rating and review of our business on our business listing. As I’m sure you know, reviews are an important part of a business’ online reputation. We are proud of our connection to and support of our community, and we know that potential clients value that commitment, as well. Sharing your positive experience through a review could be the deciding factor in leading a potential customer to choose .

Here is a link to our < Google My Business Page, Facebook> where you may leave a review.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Can You Really Trust Negative Online Reviews?

About 1.5 percent of consumers write reviews and you may notice that most tend to be on each end of the emotional spectrum from exultation to extreme bitterness. It’s best to focus on the detailed reviews and read between the lines on the emotional, negative reviews. In general, people that write reviews are trying to help others make decisions about a product or service they have used.

Take the time to reach out to clients and colleagues for positive reviews. Suprisingly, negative reviews help to make your positive reviews look even better.  Your initial reaction may be to hide any bad feedback, but consumers know that you aren’t perfect. Even William Shakespeare can’t make everyone happy.

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