How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

by Daniel Ndukwu

Negative online reviews can have a big effect on your ability to acquire new customers. Don’t let negative reviews sit there.

It’s essential that you respond quickly and take control of the situation because a fast response is the difference between preserving your reputation or not. Think of response time as a key indicator of your performance and today’s customers are placing more value on it than ever before.

Respond ASAP as the longer the reviewer waits for any acknowledgment, the harder it will be to transform their opinion of your company. So, if you see placements on Yelp that cause issues, then respond or even act to get them removed if they’re malicious – VelSEOity.com has a good guide to help you out.

Furthermore, if you take weeks to respond to any online complaint, onlookers — your target audience — will conclude that if they ever encounter an issue with your business, their problems will be disregarded as well.

Let’s look at ways to handle negative reviews.

Don’t remove negative reviews.

While it can be tempting to strive to maintain a perfect company image, the truth is that it’s impossible for any company – no matter how good you are – because you can’t please everyone.

Market research shows that deleting all negative reviews and having 5-pages of nothing but 5-star ratings will elicit doubts about credibility in the eyes of potential customers.

Online consumers are more skeptical than ever and for good reason. There have been many cases where brands have been caught manipulating the system in their favor.

Trust your audience. Most people understand that even when a company sets out with all the best intentions, things can go wrong. Your customers just want to know that if they ever encounter a problem, your business will do everything possible to resolve the issue.

Change the way you look at negative reviews. See them as a chance for a positive outcome. You can change the customer’s opinion of you and show the world that you care. People are always watching.

A negative review gives your business the chance to:

  • Showcase your level of expertise
  • Demonstrate your professionalism
  • Show your dedication to resolving customer problems
  • Convert an unhappy customer into your biggest advocate

Always do more than is reasonably expected to make things right. Don’t ignore negative reviews — you could be losing a potential future loyal customer. That customer could have been your biggest advocate but never got the chance because you left a negative review unanswered.

Publishing, but responding appropriately to negative reviews is the best way to conduct business and establish trust with your target audience. That trust is more valuable than many businesses realize until it’s too late.

Approach fake or overly critical reviews with grace. Your audience will look on and silently clap for you.

There are three main sources of online fake reviews:

1. Trolls

Unfortunately, some people out there get their kicks by posting intentionally inflammatory reviews online. Their only goal is to elicit a response from the group they posted about and get them to speak out of character. The best people in the world have fallen victim to trolls and it can happen to you if you’re not on your guard.

The good news is that removing such reviews is generally very easy and you should report them to the publishing platform if possible. Most review aggregators are actively on the lookout for these kinds of reviews and will be more than willing to help you out. This is generally the only time you want to remove a review.

2. Ex-employee who have a chip of their shoulder

It can’t be helped. Not everyone who you’ve worked with will be happy about the way they left, poor team communication, or something else within the workplace. Some past employees have been known to do everything in their power to sabotage their former employers — posting fake negative online reviews is just one approach they take.

Be on the lookout for this. They tend to use aliases but it falls under the category of trolling as well. Review platforms can help you out here as well. If not, respond with grace and address the issues that arise – if they have merit. If they’re outright lies then let it be known to the wider public.

3. Your competitors

As much as it pains me to say this, some of your competitors will go to any length to sabotage you. Not everyone believes you shouldn’t cross certain lines. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and sometimes your competition will play dirty and post fake negative reviews in a bid to harm your business.

Here are some of the best ways to respond to fake reviews:

– If you are a passionate business owner, you’ll be able to spot a bad review from a fake customer miles away. But, you should act professionally at all times and never take anything to heart or react with personal attacks.

– For fake reviews that aren’t easy to get removed, the best tactic is often to respond as if it were authentic. View it as a chance to showcase the professionalism of your operation.

– Greet the “customer” with kindness. Given that the review is fake, there will be no evidence on file of their transaction with your company — make that fact clear to them and readers.

– Call out all gaps in the stories posted by fake reviewers with finesse. Don’t get snarky, but don’t be afraid to calmly call out the holes in their recollection of events.

Here’s an example response to negative online reviews: “It saddens us to hear about your negative shopping experience online, but after checking our inventory records, we can say with confidence that our store has never stocked or sold the brand of [blank] product you referenced in your review. Nor have we ever sent parcels to customers outside of the UK. By chance did you get us confused with a different company? Let us know if you can as we are here to do everything possible to help.”

Conclusion

Negative online reviews are a natural part of doing business in this day and age. Instead of looking at them as a bad thing, approach them as a learning opportunity or a way to set the record straight. Respond to all reviewers with grace and dignity so your target audience will know that you do business with integrity – no matter the circumstances. Eventually, that’s the reputation you’ll build and a handful of negative reviews won’t change that.

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