How to Deal With Negative Reviews

Don’t Let a Bad Review Derail Your Business

Even the best businesses will get a negative review on Google or Yelp from time to time. Negative reviews can impact everything from your website’s organic rankings on Google to whether or not consumers decide to buy your product or service. In fact, market research has found that it takes 12 positive reviews in order to counteract just one negative review. But just because you made a mistake or dropped the ball one time doesn’t mean that your business deserves to be dragged through the mud or that your reputation should be forever ruined. Bad reviews happen, and it’s how you deal with them that can truly make or break your online reputation.

What Not to do When you Get a Negative Review

When you’re dealing with a bad online review, it’s just as important that you know what not to do as it is to know what you should do. Here are a few things you should never do when your business receives a negative review:

Take Bad Reviews Personally

No matter how many people say that business isn’t personal, the reality is that it’s very personal, especially when your business is something you’ve built from the ground up with your own two hands. When someone criticizes something you’ve put so much heart and soul into, it’s perfectly natural to get a little mad and take steps to defend it, and this is especially true if you believe that the complaint was illegitimate.

But no matter how justified you may feel or be in the situation, responding out of anger and defensiveness is only going to make matters worse. When you respond to a negative review, it’s not just between you and the individual who left the review; the entire world can see it play out.

Get Pulled into a Debate or Battle

Not every individual who leaves a bad review about your business will be easy to appease. You may, in fact, run into a troll who would rather keep complaining online than accept an apology or solution and move on. It’s always a good idea to address customer complaints and negative reviews, but it’s important to stay at a professional, reasonable level when you do so, even if the reviewer argues, tries to pick a fight or resorts to calling you childish names.

Ignore Negative Reviews

Regardless of whether you believe a review is legitimate or not, ignoring it is not the way to go. If you don’t address a negative review, it will make the reviewer feel even more justified in their anger, which can further hurt your reputation. Additionally, other potential customers will be able to see both the negative review and your response to it. If you ignore it, it sends the message that you care very little about customer service.

Be Hasty in Your Response

When you get a negative review, it’s important to respond in a prepared manner. Off-the-cuff responses will often be emotionally charged, which isn’t helpful to your company or your clients. You don’t want to wait too long to respond, but it’s important to prepare what you’re going to say ahead of time rather than just responding in the moment. This will ensure that you are responding in a more professional manner.

What to do When You Get a Negative Review

Now that you know how not to respond to a negative review, it’s time to learn about what you can do to turn the situation around. Oftentimes, it’s the customers who are the unhappiest and most unsatisfied that can turn into your biggest allies, but you have to put the time and energy into making it right before you can earn that trust and respect. Here are a few positive ways to respond to a negative review:

Learn From Past Mistakes

Sometimes, the negative reviews you get might be totally illegitimate, but in the vast majority of cases, bad reviews stem from very real problems. The best and most successful businesses are the ones that take the feedback given by their customers and use it to get better. When you get a negative review, take it to heart and actually look into it. If one customer had a bad experience, then chances are, another one will in the future, but you can avoid these bad interactions if you learn to take negative feedback and actually try to get better from it. Learning from your mistakes is especially important if multiple negative reviews are about one thing.

Acknowledge the Problem and Apologize

Ignoring a negative review won’t make it go away, but acknowledging the problem behind that bad review and apologizing for it is a surefire way to turn a negative experience into a positive one. In fact, marketing research found that 33 percent of the negative reviews on Yelp can be turned into positive experiences when businesses make it a point acknowledge them and apologize for them.

This is not to say that you’ll change the minds of every customer who leaves a negative review, but acknowledging and apologizing for the issue has just as big of an impact on other potential customers reading that review as it does on the reviewer itself. Taking the time to acknowledge and apologize for a negative review will show others that, while your business may not be perfect, you truly have your customers’ interests at heart and you’re willing to make it right when mistakes are made.

Respond Quickly, But Not Too Quickly

As we mentioned earlier, hasty responses are rarely positive responses, as they are often born out of emotion. Preparing to respond to a negative review is important, and it will help you to come off as more professional and effective in your response. However, this doesn’t mean that you should take a week to respond to a bad review. If you take too long, it will look as if you are ignoring the problem or trying to sweep it under the rug, which will only further frustrate the dissatisfied customer and send the message that you don’t actually care to your other customers.

As much as you can, always try to respond to negative reviews within 24 hours. This will give you enough time to prepare a sincere, authentic response and eliminate the possibility of an overly emotional, off-the-cuff response that will only hurt your reputation more.

Shine a Positive Light

Negative reviews can hurt a business in many ways, but they can also be beneficial in many ways. For one, potential customers are going to be more likely to believe that your positive reviews are actually authentic if there are a few negative reviews in there as well. Additionally, responding to a negative review will give you a chance to shine a positive light on your business.

Acknowledging and apologizing in response to a negative review is important, but that doesn’t mean that you have to accept all of the blame at face value. Saying something along the lines of, “We’ve been in business for more than 15 years, and we always try to do what’s best for our customers no better what. We apologize that we fell short in living up to our dedication to excellent customer service in your interaction, and we will do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” will help to highlight the positive aspects of your business rather than detracting from your brand.

Respond Publicly, But Know When to Take the Conversation Offline

Both negative and positive reviews are made public for anyone and everyone to see, and it’s incredibly important that you respond publicly when you receive a negative review. This demonstrates to both the reviewer and any potential customers reading that review that you are willing and able to make it right when you make a mistake. However, it’s also important to know when you should take the conversation offline.

Sometimes, no matter how many times you apologize and what you do to make it right, the disgruntled or unhappy customer doesn’t want to hear it. As we mentioned earlier in this blog, some people aren’t offering constructive feedback and instead want to simply air their complaints online. If you sink to their level and let yourself get into an argument online for the world to see, it will only end up hurting your reputation. Instead, invite the customer to call or email you directly to resolve the matter.

Managing Negative Reviews isn’t Always Easy, But It’s Essential

Even the best businesses get bad reviews from time to time, and it’s how you deal with those bad reviews that truly defines who you are to your customers. Staying in the know about your online reputation is a key part of any business’s success in the digital age, and with Top Rated Local, you’ll be able to do so from one place.

Top Rated Local is a system designed to pull legitimate verified reviews from trustworthy sources into one place. This gives businesses the peace of mind in knowing that they won’t have to worry about having their reputation trashed by a competitor or an unhappy ex-employee, and gives consumers a real, unbiased look at the quality of service offered by local businesses in their area.

Joining Top Rated Local is one of the best ways to get your business noticed and start ranking for “near me” searches in your area. Don’t wait, join today!

The Importance of Reviews for Small Businesses

No matter what industry your small business is in or how long it’s been around, reviews matter.

It used to be that word-of-mouth referrals were the key to small business success, and while referrals still matter in the digital age, online reviews are a must for every small business.

What the Stats Have to Say:

  • In 2017, 97 percent of consumers make it a point to read reviews for making an online purchase.
  • In 2016, consumers would read an average of six reviews before deciding to trust a business, and in 2017, that number rose to seven reviews.
  • More than 57 percent of consumers will eventually make a purchase from a business they’ve researched online.
  • When making a buying decision, more than 46 percent of consumers pay attention to the quality of a business’s reviews.
  • Half of all consumers will question whether to trust a business after reading negative reviews online.

5 Reasons Why Online Reviews Matter for Small Businesses

#1. Mobile search is the new driving force for local business.

In the good ol’ days, most people found local businesses by word-of-mouth referrals. For instance, if you were looking for an electrician, you’d probably start by asking your friends and family or maybe your co-workers for referrals.

But today, most of us have the internet literally in our pockets, giving us the ability to find an electrician or any other local business on the spot. More and more, mobile search has become the biggest thing driving consumers to local businesses. However, consumers aren’t likely to simply put their trust in the first listing that pops up, and in order to earn their trust, reviews are key.

#2. With online reviews, the customer comes to you.

It used to be that, in order to advertise your business and get your name out there, you had to use outbound forms of marketing, like television, radio and newspaper ads. Outbound marketing is all about throwing out what you have to offer to a broad audience with the hope that at least a percentage of those consumers will have a need for your product or service.

Consumer reviews, on the other hand, are an inbound marketing strategy. In order for a consumer to find your brand and your reviews, they have to be looking for a product or service you offer, which means that a far greater percentage of your audience will actually want to work with you. And it’s those reviews that turn a prospective buyer into an actual customer.

#3. Websites with the best reviews rank better organically.

In this day and age, every business needs a website because, as we mentioned, that’s how people today find businesses. However, it’s not enough to simply have a website. In order to get new consumers to visit your website, it has to rank on page one.

The simple fact is that most people never look past that first page of listings, and if your website doesn’t show up, it may as well not exist. Although there are many things that go into Google’s ranking algorithm, one very important piece is reviews. Google wants to promote the best companies, and they do that by ranking websites with the best reviews higher.

#4. Reviews help to establish trust in your brand.

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of competition out there, and that’s true whether you own a small retail business or a dental practice. With so many other businesses competing for the exact same customers as you, you have to be able to demonstrate to the consumer why they should take a chance on you instead of choosing the others.

It’s not enough just to have one or two positive reviews, either. The more positive reviews your business has, the more likely new consumers are to trust you. Only about 3 percent of consumers will trust a company after reading one review, but a staggering 32 percent will trust a company after reading four to six reviews.

#5. Reviews lead to more sales!

The driving force behind any and every business is the sales. At the end of the day, if your business isn’t making sales, it’s not making a profit, and you won’t survive. Luckily, reviews are a great way to increase your sales.

If a consumer is deciding between a similar product or service from multiple businesses, they are going to choose to purchase from the business that has the most positive reviews, plain and simple. As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, 97 percent of consumers will read a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to make a purchase or not, and the bottom line is that, if you don’t have reviews, you’re going to miss out on those sales.

Top Rated Local® offers a better way to manage your reviews.

Businesses have very little control over their reviews and their online reputation using most review sites, which leaves a vulnerability to illegitimate, negative reviews from disgruntled employees, competitors and other malicious reviewers. Top Rated Local was created to address these everyday problems, and to be a place where true and legitimate customer experiences can be captured and shared.

For business owners, this is clearly a big plus, because it prevents slanderous and unfair comments and reviews from tarnishing their brand and their good name. And for consumers, this unique approach allows them to find the kind of companies who are really doing it right for their clients, and it gives them a realistic window into what a business actually has to offer and the kind of quality they can expect.

Are you ready to become a Top Rated Local business?

If you’re not earning positive reviews for your business, then the fact is that you’re missing out on the many benefits associated with them. There are so many incredible reasons to start earning positive reviews and managing your online reputation, and Top Rated Local can help.

The best part about joining Top Rated Local is that it’s 100-percent free. It’s also one of the best things you can do to start getting noticed for those “near me” searches. Don’t let another sale, search result or consumer pass you by. Experience the difference that being a Top Rated Local business can make. Add your business today!

Should I Have Review Links on My Website?

 

Is it worth it to put links to review sites like Google or Top Rated Local on your website?  The short answer:  Yes.  Let’s explore the value of these links.

What is a Review Link?

A review link is a button that links to a particular review profile for your business.  For example, this chiropractor has links to his Google Business listing:

review links homepage

This is a simple feature, but it feeds into the vital role that reputation plays in digital marketing.

Online reviews are at the center of how you develop trust with prospective clients.  These buttons serve as a call to action to leave a review.

 

Why Are Review Links Effective?

There are several factors at work here.

First is that review links on your site make for an easy, fast way to request a review.  Since everyone has a phone, you can just ask a client to go right to your website and leave a review directly after the service.

The website link is particularly useful for Google reviews because getting more reviews helps your organic ranking in business listings.

Ranking as it connects to reviews is of particular importance for businesses that are now on Local Service Ads (LSA).  With these ads, Google reviews play a big role in how business is ranked.

If you’re a contractor running LSA, it’s a really good strategy to have these website links set up.  At the end of the job you can simply mention that you’d appreciate a review and direct the client to your website.

You’ll get more reviews when you make it easy for people to leave them.

The chiropractic site pictured got an immediate uptick in reviews, jumping from just a couple a week to a dozen a week.

The other factor here is that having these links on your site engenders trust.

For any business, it’s an excellent idea to embrace client reviews and make it easy for people to find them or leave them.  It suggests that you’re proud of your customer service and you want people to know what your clients think.

This is the reason we also suggest adding the Top Rated Local widget to your site:

top rated local badge

 

This basically says to visitors:  We’re proud of our customer service and reviews, and we want you to see them!

Additionally, Top Rated Local uses a rating score that aggregates ratings from review sites across the web so prospects can get a quick sense of your overall reputation.

It’s worth it to be proactive about online review content because today people are going to find reviews about you anyway.  Making it clear that you want people to see your reviews means you know what clients said about your work is positive.

There are a number of excellent strategies, such as email follow-ups, that will help you get more reviews from customers.

In the past, every business knew the value of positive word of mouth.  A strong local reputation that drove referrals was invaluable.

Today, word of mouth has a strong digital component.  Consumers trust online reviews as much as a referral from a friend, and they expect established businesses to have reviews that demonstrate that the business keeps its promises.

If you don’t have many reviews or your review profile is less than stellar, use these strategies to get your best customers writing about you.

This post was originally published on Marketing 360®.

5 Tips for Getting More Positive Customer Reviews

 

The most effective way to manage your online reputation is to get more positive reviews.  Here are 5 tips that will motivate your most satisfied customers to write online reviews.

Online reviews frustrate a lot of business owners because there is a lack of balance.  The problem is that most people simply don’t review businesses they deal with every day – until something goes wrong (restaurant and hospitality industries excepted).  You might be a landscaper, chiropractor, or auto dealership that has a great real-world reputation, yet your online review profile is lopsided with negative comments.  The happy middle of satisfied clients is under-represented.

The only way around this problem is to be proactive and ask happy customers to leave reviews.  And we mean more than just casually mentioning it.  You need a plan that everyone in your business understands.

Here are 5 tips on creating and implementing a plan that will help bring balance back to your online reviews so they reflect the quality of service you actually offer.

 

Tip #1:  Deliver Exceptional Service

Before we even talk about getting more reviews, we have to mention what is being reviewed.

None of the tips listed here will work unless you deliver exceptional service your customers genuinely appreciate.  It’s all but impossible to fake a positive review profile for a business with major customer service or product quality issues.

Today’s customer-centered business world is more transparent than ever.  Every time you cut corners on quality, you jeopardize your online reputation.  Every time you delight beyond expectations, you boost it.

When everything is said and done, the quality of your offering plays the biggest role in your reputation.  Asking for a positive review is far easier when the customer feels you deserve one.

 

Tip #2:  Ask Customers For Reviews

Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the most overlooked.  To get more positive online reviews, the place to start is directly asking for them.

First and foremost, this means asking in person.  For example, say you run a local bike shop.  One of your sales associates spends time with a customer, fitting them for the perfect bike.  The customer is ecstatic to have an excellent new bike and even forms a kind of bond with the salesperson.

There is no better opportunity to ask for a review than at the end of this sale.  The salesperson can even frame the request, noting how the review will help other customers find the right bike.

Train staff that works directly with customers to always ask for a review.  Make it an organizational initiative. This is the best opportunity you’ll have to get an honest review motivated by nothing other than the merits of your work.

Important Idea:  Asking for Reviews By Email

If you don’t have much (or any) face time with customers, you’ll need to ask for reviews by email.

Be aware that you have to create a custom list of emails comprised only of happy customers.  You can’t automate this off a list that might include customers that are upset.

The best practice is to have the email sent from an individual at your company, preferably a personal email from the person the client worked with.  The content of the email can be a personal request.

You can then create links directly to your review pages, like this one for Google.  Lead with a request to get a review on the platform you most want to target, but have links to other platforms as well (many people have one preferred platform for leaving reviews).

This email is a type of conversion.  Test your text and design to see what elicits the most responses.

Important Idea:  Ask for Reviews On Facebook

A facebook post to followers is a quick way to ask for reviews.  Keep in simple and personal, with a link to the review platform so people can easily write the review:

ask for review on facebook

Tip #3:  Incentivizing Reviews

One of the tactics everyone considers is offering rewards (discounts, freebies, or payment) for reviews.  It’s certainly one way to incentivize people to act.

But you have to be careful when using rewards to incentivize reviews.  Because ideally, you want to earn reviews without having to toss in incentives.

And not surprisingly, it’s against the policy of most review platforms to reward reviews.  This leads to fake reviews and skewed business profiles that undermine the legitimacy of the content for users.  Platforms like Yelp make an active effort to filter any reviews the business incentivized.

However, as we said, the problem here is that the people most motivated to write reviews of their own accord are those with a complaint.  You just want to give your happy clients a little push in the right direction.

Start with steps one and two.  If possible, it’s better not to resort to offering rewards for reviews because it’s simply not as genuine.  Some customers may see it as tacky, hurting your reputation rather than helping it.

But if you’re struggling to get positive comments, you can run an incentive campaign.  When asking for a review, note that you have a special offer for confirmed positive comments.  In some cases, you can get the customer to write you a review on the spot and give them the reward right then.

Incentivizing is best used as a way to boost your review profile when you’re struggling to get enough positive reviews.  Beyond that, let your work and straightforward requests serve as your main reputation management strategy.

 

Tip #4:  Respond to Reviews

You’ll encourage more reviews with a profile that shows you’re responsive – to both positive and negative comments.

Think of your review profile as another way to interact with clients.  Instead of these being one-sided comments, they can become dialogues where you gain valuable feedback about your services.

You can do a great deal to curb the effect of negative reviews by responding like a professional.  Be transparent about errors, and explain how you will remedy them so they don’t become chronic mistakes.

Also, thank people for positive comments and repeat – specifically – the benefit you delivered.  This becomes a type of marketing content that can convey your value proposition.  For example:

This marketing service has a dashboard that tracks the marketing activities and the results so you can actually hold the company accountable by results that are automatically tracked. Marketing efforts are tackled from every angle. Also my account manager Travis Mino is a great guy and gets things done for me when asked. We have achieved our traffic, conversion and sales goals for the last several months. I recommend this marketing services company to any company that is serious about improving its e-commerce business. – Wayne S.  

Response:

Wayne, we’re ecstatic Marketing 360 is improving your e-commerce business. Tracking results so business owners understand their marketing is the primary goal of our marketing software.  We love to hear clients are not only achieving goals, but that they know they’re achieving them.  That’s not always easy with marketing.  We look forward to helping you grow for years to come!  – Travis M.

If you get a negative review, you can earn redemption by acknowledging the opinion of the reviewer and showing you value their input.  For example, I recently gave a less than stellar review to a local steak restaurant:

online review

I respect this response and will give these guys another chance (but I’m going with a steak!).  Here are some more review response tips from Google.

Important Idea:  Ignore Rants

On occasion, you’ll get a negative review that’s simply an unfair rant.  Some people take advantage of the removed anonymity of online reviews as an outlet for other issues.

Simply ignore these rants and move on.  They’re not worth responding to, and other people will recognize them for what they are.

If you think a review is fake and/or posted by a competitor, you can flag it for removal.  But don’t obsess over these.  You’ll never please everyone, and some people choose never to be pleased.  Life’s too short to get into it with these personalities.

In fact, some negative reviews are worth a laugh.  There is an entire YouTube channel dedicated to professional actors adding drama to negative (and absurd) Yelp reviews:

 

Tip #5:  Monitor Your Brand

Tracking all the customer-created content and getting a sense of your overall reputation online is becoming increasingly challenging.  In some cases, there are dozens of review platforms a business needs to monitor, including social media like Facebook.

Getting happy customers to review you online then tracking that content on a daily basis is important – but time-consuming.

Get one person at your business be responsible for your reputation management efforts or have your marketing company do it for you.

The one thing you can’t do is ignore online reviews.  It’s said today that a brand is no longer what it says about itself, but what its customers tell each other about it.  Online consumers are instinctively drawn to what people who’ve used a product or service have to say about it.  They believe they’ll get a more objective view than what the business says about itself.

And they are – for the most part – correct.  A positive, unsolicited review is the best measure of your fine work.  But don’t just wait for your customers to do the right thing.  Ask them for help.  Not just to help you, but to help the next happy customer that will choose you because of that positive review.

This post originally appeared on Marketing 360®