No business wants negative reviews, warranted or not. In a time when consumers value reviews more and more, not only does it reflect badly on your business but Google, Facebook and co actively promote reviews because they know people want to see them.
A customer may leave a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor but people will probably see it. One of the problems is business directories where people can leave reviews often appear high up in Google, with the rating right beneath it. If you don’t have many reviews on one platform, one bad rating can bring your average right down to 1 star.
If people search your business name in Google, they won’t have to visit Yelp, the Yellow Pages or some other site; they will see a one star review right in the search results. This is something I have seen happen a lot.
The other trouble is since people are so accustomed to seeing 4 or 5 star businesses in Google, anything less stands out as a red flag.
So you want to do something about this negative review, what are your options?
Remedy the situation with the customer
If it was a legitimate customer who left the review, your first step should be to try and make them happy. If you can put something right they might change their review. If you can’t and you don’t mind offering a sweetener that may also help. Incentivizing reviews however is a no, no, this is against Google’s terms of service.
Respond to the review
Some review platforms, including Google, allow the business to respond publicly to the customer so you can give your side of the story. If something was put right, mention that. If the review is fake/exaggerated then definitely exercise your right to reply. It may not change the rating but it might soften the impact if other people are given more information.
Report the review for removal
Unfortunately most of the time negative reviews cannot be removed, the occasions where removal may be considered include:
Reviews which use vulgar/hate speech
Google’s terms for posting reviews prohibit use of hate speech which is: race, gender, religion, age nationality, disability or ethnicity based.
Same person leaving multiple reviews
Maliciously leaving multiple negative reviews under different accounts are definite grounds for the review being considered for removal, even if the friends/family do so on their behalf.
Review from previous staff member
Lots of reviews posted at the same time
One clear indication of abuse is posting multiple reviews for different businesses at the same time.
Reviews which favor a competitor
If the same person has left a negative review for your business and a positive one for a competitor this is a clear attempt to defame and definite grounds for removal.
Review posted under wrong business
There are plenty of businesses with the same name in the world, let alone similar ones. Occasionally people will leave a review in the wrong place. If you think this has happened contact the person and let them know, asking them to remove it.
Bury the bad review
If you can’t remove the review and you have responded, the best thing you can do is bury it. It’s not usually enough to wait for this to happen but you can speed up the process by asking. Be aware that Yelp prohibits asking for reviews. You can however do this with Google, Facebook and others.
There are lots of tools which help to make this easier such as free review handouts, link generators, sms based review systems and reputation management companies. Make sure your staff are a way of the importance of reviews and make an effort to encourage them to ask customers.