Were you aware of the fact that businesses that lose one star on Yelp can see their sales plummeting by between 5 and 9%? Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency. My company specializes in Google Ads, Facebook Ads and remarketing. Over the years, I have helped hundreds of businesses achieve growth by leveraging the power of Star Ratings. I fully understand the damage that negative reviews can do to a business. Many people approach me wanting to know how to fight negative reviews. This article is dedicated to teaching you how to react in the event that one or more of your customers have left scathing feedback about your business somewhere on the internet. The article is divided into the following sections;
Are online reviews important?
Today, over 90% of people will first look up online reviews before making a purchase. Online reviews, are, therefore of paramount importance. Not only will your prospects consult them before buying from your business, but around 88% trust these reviews.
That’s despite the fact that they are left online by complete strangers. One thing to note is that online reviews are an extension of the word-of-mouth phenomenon that has been around since time immemorial.
The only difference is that instead of listening to recommendations from a family member or a colleague, people trust online reviews in spite of the fact that they are written mostly by complete strangers.
Clearly, online reviews are important, and negative reviews can adversely affect your business. Indeed, a single negative review can be worth thousands of dollars in lost revenue for a business. But what’s the best way of responding to negative reviews?
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
It’s important to know how to fight negative reviews. One thing that you need to remember is that online reviews have staying power. If an irate customer blasts you online today, that review will remain on the internet well into the future. So, how do you fight these and other issues arising from negative reviews?
As you can see in the above screenshot, negative reviews can be rather scathing. Did the restaurant owner respond the correct way in this instance? Below is how to respond to negative reviews;
1. Always monitor what people are saying about your brand online
Online reputation management (ORM) has become big business over the past few years. And for good reasons. It’s important for businesses large and small to stay in touch with what people are saying about their brands.
Having this information allows you to deploy all the other tools that we talk about in this article to help fight negative reviews.
Thing is, no matter how diligent you may be, you are never going to be able to monitor every review site out there. And on some, it doesn’t even matter whether or not you have a presence on the platform.
As an example, it’s possible to review a business on Google or Yelp even when that business has not claimed its page. So, you need to know what people are saying everywhere. This is where ORM companies come into play. Good examples include;
- Shopper Approved
- Rising Phoenix SEO
- Elevated Marketing
- Thrive Internet Marketing
1. Try to respond to all reviews
According to Google, responding to online reviews can help you achieve a better ranking. That’s because Google values engagement. Depending on the size of your business, it can feel overwhelming to try and cope with everything that people are saying about your brand online. One thing that I am always telling businesses, however, is that they should strive to respond to ALL reviews.
Don’t ignore negative reviews
You should never ignore negative reviews. That’s right! When it comes to online reviews, you don’t actually have the luxury of cherry picking the ones that you like and choosing to only respond to those. In fact, responding to negative feedback is the first major tool in your fight- back kit.
I firmly believe responding to negative reviews is way more important than responding to positive reviews. Your prospects are much more interested in the negative things that others have to say about you. They are interested in your shortcomings as a business. Based on these shortcomings, they will decide whether or not it’s safe to buy from you.
Of course, you should also not neglect positive reviews. Your business will appear higher on Google if you have a lot of positive reviews on which there has been clear engagement. Also, responding to positive reviews puts them at the top. Otherwise, you will find that it’s your negative feedback that gains prominence, which is not what you want as a business.
Explore automated responses to reviews
Okay, so it can be difficult to respond to every review, particularly if you are a big business. What if you get hundreds of them every day? Is it even feasible to try to answer all of them, even if you have a large team that’s dedicated to the task?
One simple solution to this task is to take steps to automate responses to online reviews. As an example, you can automate responses to reviews on your website, on Google My Business or on Facebook. Your canned response could be something thanking the customer for taking the time to give you feedback.
2. Respond promptly to prevent additional harm to your brand
Is burying your head in the sand the correct way to fight negative reviews? Well, that one is controversial. I personally believe you should never ignore reviews, even when they are negative.
Each day that a piece of adverse feedback remains unanswered on Yelp, Google and elsewhere translates into lost sales for your business. Of course, responding is not going to take away that review.
However, it’s a good way of showing your prospects that you are on top of the situation. Quickly responding to negative reviews helps limit the damage. It gives you the opportunity to explain yourself before the entire thing has become rather damaging to your brand.
3. Remain Calm
There are many articles out there detailing how to fight negative reviews. Almost all of them encourage staying calm as the first step if you want to win the war against adverse feedback. It’s probably only natural for businesses to panic the first times that they get negative reviews.
Remember we are not just talking about something that’s unreal and restricted to the online world. Negative can cost you real money. They have the potential to affect your business’ bottom-line. So, panicking is only natural the first time that you get one.
However, that should not be the case. To begin with, you should understand that negative reviews are a part of doing business. No matter how good you may be, it's inevitable that you are going to come across that customer who you can never fully satisfy.
So, understanding that adverse feedback is natural tends to be at the core of learning how to fight negative reviews. Once you have understood this, you will be able to remain calm, even in the face of sometimes serious provocation.
Don’t respond to negative reviews in anger. Otherwise you are only going to turn the whole thing into a spectacle. And the internet loves spectacles. Before you know it, your brand will be the butt of jokes across the internet. And that’s not good.
Your customers expect a few negative reviews
Negative reviews are always damaging, right? Well, the issue is not that simple. In fact, research indicates that people expect a smattering of negative reviews on your profile.
If you have 100% 5 star reviews, people will think that you have gamed the system in some way. So, that’s another good reason why you should never panic about negative reviews.
4. Try to solve the issue offline
Customers who leave negative reviews usually do not do so simply because they don’t like your business. If they didn’t like your business, they wouldn’t have bothered buying from you or dealing with you in some other way.
People, generally speaking, leave negative reviews when they are genuinely aggrieved about something. Reasons for negative reviews vary from delayed shipping to inadequate responses to queries about a product or service.
So, how do you fight these adverse feelings that give rise to negative reviews? Well, if you want to fight negative reviews, one way of doing so is by taking the customer’s grievances offline. There is no need for you to turn the entire thing into a spectacle by engaging in a protracted debate on the internet.
Remember, we have just noted that online reviews endure. Whatever argument you have with a customer today will still be accessible even 10 or 20 years from now. Taking the argument offline helps limit the damage.
And you can always come back to explain to others that you engaged the concerned customer offline and came to an amiable agreement regarding their issue.
However, things are not always that simple. As you can see in the above example, taking the case offline obviously did not work. The concerned customer remained unimpressed. Not only that, but they added to their already negative review. So, things are not always simple.
5. When wrong, apologize to the concerned customer
As noted earlier, you should never allow your Page on Facebook, Yelp, Google and elsewhere to become a battleground on which you are constantly slugging it out with irate customers. People who leave you adverse feedback mostly have genuine concerns that need to be addressed.
In many instances, the issue will be due to a simple misunderstanding. Sometimes, issues are caused by circumstances beyond your control. As an example, you could have dispatched an item promptly to a customer, only to be undone by your shipping company.
Whatever the cause of the problem, it’s important for you to apologize to the customer where expectation and promise fail to meet reality. An apology, in any case, helps you fight negative reviews. It’s dilutes the negative aspect of adverse online feedback.
Yes, people will still be able to see the negative review that you got from your customer. But they will also see the response in which you have apologized. That can be all it takes to convince people to do business with you, in spite of the negative review.
It gives people the picture that you care, in spite of the challenges that may have occurred in this particular instance. Indeed, apologizing and explaining yourself can help you turn a negative review into a positive. On Yelp, up to 33% of negative reviews become positive when the companies concerned make the effort to respond to angry customers.
6. Have fake reviews removed
This is an important tool as you set out to learn how to fight negative reviews. Unfortunately, it’s not the simplest. The sad thing is that fake reviews are quite common. Understanding the people behind them could be difficult.
Perhaps fake reviews are produced by your competitors. Or maybe they are written by bored college kids. Whatever their source, the unfortunate thing is that most platforms do not make it easy to remove negative reviews.
You have to clearly demonstrate that the review is fake, which can be difficult. However, you can, in some cases, request to have defamatory reviews removed. So, where this is an option, you should try to have fake reviews removed.
6. Encourage satisfied customers to review your business
What type of customer is motivated to review your business online? What most businesses do not know is that satisfied customers are not really motivated to give reviews. At least they are not as motivated as angry customers.
If one of your customers feels that you were lacking in fulfilling your end of the bargain, they are likely to go to Yelp, Google and elsewhere to blast your business. So, what do you do to counter this phenomenon?
Clearly, if you allow reviews to flow organically, chances are very high that you will soon be swamped with negative reviews. What you need to do is to encourage satisfied customers to review your business. How you do it varies depending on the platform. Yelp, as an example, does not encourage soliciting for reviews, while Google encourages the practice.
We have previously produced an article in which we showed you how to get positive reviews. One of the tips that we highlighted in there was to make it as simple as is possible for people to review your business. You can get people to review your business in the following ways;
- By asking for reviews on checkout. This is possible if you use platforms such as Shopper Approved and Google Customer Reviews.
- You can send out emails to your customers thanking them for their purchase and containing a link to your review pages.
- It’s also possible to ask people for online reviews via SMS.
- Calling people on the phone is another great option if you wish to get reviews from your customers. Ask them about their satisfaction with their purchase. Along the way, drop the hint that you wish to have them review your business.
- It’s possible to automate the process of gathering reviews through a company such as Shopper Approved.
The essence, here, is that you should encourage satisfied customers to review your business. That way, these reviews will not be drowned out by negative reviews. Having many positive reviews allows you to block the negative feedback. It means adverse feedback will appear at the bottom on Google and elsewhere.
That’s how to fight negative reviews. In this article, we showed you why online reviews are important. We also explained that negative reviews are a part of life. There is no way that your business is going to be able to evade them.
Knowing how to respond to them can be key to your survival as a business. That’s because reviews translate into real money. They are not just an illusory internet based construct. In order to fight negative reviews, you should remain calm, respond promptly to adverse feedback and encourage satisfied customer to review your business. You may also be interested in these templates for responding to negative reviews.
What do you think? Do online reviews matter? If you wish to get the most out of online reviews, sign up with Shopper Approved using our link. Over the years, we have recommended hundreds of businesses to this online reviews management company. And the majority of them have come back to thank us!