Dealing With A Negative Review, Getting Proactive!
While good reviews are some of the best organic advertising a business can have, the fact is web-based reviews are NOT completely in a business owner’s control! And because there are literally hundreds of listing directory websites with ‘for public use review options’ we’re going to focus some here on what is the most visible directory listing – Google.
Reviews posted to random search or directory website listings are a reality. It is also content that consumers seek when they wish to know more about other people’s experiences. It’s why the chance of a negative review both scares and frustrates all business owners, but there is also a BIG opportunity here! All business owners should choose a simple, but pro-active “build reviews plan” that not only pursues good reviews but in doing so also serves to protect against a negative review. This plan MUST become standard operating procedure (SOP) for your business! Here is the summarized plan and why it’s so important:
1) ADVERTISING: a good Google listing review is some of the best FREE advertising a business can ever have, BUT
2) PURSUIT: 9 of 10 people won’t get around to giving a review proactively, so to build reviews a business must consistently request & pursue AND
3) POSITIVE OVERWHELMS NEGATIVE: by building a lot of good reviews your business will serve to overwhelm a bad review, for if it ever comes! When that unreasonable unfair client comes along, their comments can be buried in all the good reviews you have accumulated.
Google Listing & Reviews Management, How To Do It
Google Listing reviews are the most visible by far, so it is necessary for your business to get control of and manage that listing. If not already, here is the link to gain control of and verify a ‘Google My Business’ account listing: https://business.google.com/create . Once there, type the business name into the search bar and click on the matching name & location as it appears. From there Google will direct on how to fill out the information necessary to claim control over the listing. If circumstances are that somebody else has already claimed the listing, Google will present an abbreviated version of the email address that currently has control. If it is not someone else’s and, better yet it is yours, then log in using your account info. Often, that is a Gmail account. If the email is not familiar, a request for ownership to the email present will be a necessary first step. If there is no response from that email owner, then Google will require a step-by-step verification process in order to grant rightful access.
Once access is achieved, there are options to flag an “inappropriate” review, including specific choices for what rule the review breaks. Once submitted, Google will look into it. However frustrating it may be, it is important to understand that there is no guarantee Google will do anything. If the reviewer account is not faked and their comments do not break any ‘review rules’ then Google policy is to do nothing. Granted this has changed over the years quite a few times, there is a ‘Google My Business’ support phone number at 844-491-9665. By talking to a live Google support person, there may be an opportunity to explain and raise the odds for having a false review removed.
Direction For How To Address A Negative Review
In circumstances where a negative review is going to remain, the Google My Business account dashboard offers a means for responding to it. In doing so, never react! It’s so important to understand how to respond and also what’s at stake. What follows will help a great deal when responding to a negative review:
1. Go Direct!
Respond privately to the individual before responding publicly, if possible. Apologize and acknowledge a mistake or a misunderstanding. Maybe there is an opportunity to meet half way or to make an exchange for taking the negative review down. Better yet, an exchange for an updated good review. Online reviews are not set in stone, they can always be updated by the reviewer.
2. When Responding Live, Present a Positive Position
- Never react, and never make excuses in a public response.
- Prepare a response to amicably resolve the situation, but always have others review it first – before going live.
- Identify yourself as the business owner, explain customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance and that given a chance to speak directly you are certain you can resolve the situation.
- Restate their issue because that person is likely annoyed, they want to know they were heard.
- Do not motivate or engage in a back and forth battle online for the entire world to see. Arguments or trying to explain how events didn’t occur in the fashion reviewed is not going to help! CONSUMERS reading it will lean toward other consumers when they see it. We must understand WE are speaking to the public and the prospective consumer too!
- Acknowledge a mistake — even if you’re not sure you have made one — apologize and again offer to proactively fix the situation.
- If an agreement can be reached the person will often take the review down, but if not you will have demonstrated goodwill and the way you conduct business … for everyone to see!
3. Manage Consumer Expectations
Do your very best NEVER to be caught off guard! How? Be a thorough communicator from the very start. This is about prevention: a company should carefully manage expectations about what is and what is not being sold. Leave nothing to chance! Some might call it making sure buyers are not set up for confusion or the disappointment that can motivate a bad review in the first place. And folks, drop the ego – be sure to give them the best support you’ve got!
4. Look For Directory Review Policies, Prohibited and Restricted Review Content
Going back to how to flag an unfair review or getting a review removed depends on the listing companies’ documented policies and whether or not you can prove they were violated, but it is always worth a careful look. Yelp, for instance, doesn’t support reviews from a competitor. No directory will support false user accounts, so be sure the individual is legitimate or you should be able to have it taken down. And most offer a way to FLAG a false review in the account dashboard calling the directory out to review it with your reasons for why it should be taken down. To get acquainted with Google’s Review Policies, go here: https://support.google.com/local-guides/answer/7400114?hl=en
Unfair Or Negative Reviews Happen, A Pro-Active Plan Must Be S.O.P.
The negative side of the review coin is you CANNOT CONTROL all the listings out there with your company’s information and ‘for public use review options’, nor the chance anyone will post a review. If the possibility of getting a negative review makes you hesitant, remember that sooner or later almost every business will get one. There are those rare individuals out there who may NOT be fair. Worse, there are even ‘reputation management agencies’ for hire out there that will use nefarious tactics on behalf of a client in order to disparage the competition. No matter, it’s why all business owners must have a proactive plan at the ready. Getting reviews MUST be seen as a standard operating procedure (SOP)!
And by the way, having nothing but glowing comments can make some readers wonder about whether or not your reviews are even legitimate. Your plan for managing that bad review will speak volumes with potential customers (including the unhappy customer) and can have a far greater effect than the bad review itself.
About Kinetic Knowledge | Local SEO NJ
Based in Monmouth County, NJ, Kinetic Knowledge is a full-service digital marketing agency offering custom website design, website troubleshoot & fix, website host management, Small Business SEO, social media advertising/account management, and more.
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