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How You Deal With Negative Reviews Makes A Big Difference

If you run a business, you know that you can’t please everybody. If you’ve ever been unhappy, you also know how much you want to vent about a bad experience to others. Put these two together and you know how easy it is to get negative reviews. People are just more likely to review a company if they’re unhappy than if they are satisfied. With how much online reviews affect your success in today’s business world, that’s a problem. How do you deal with negative reviews? It’s very important to do it right, because how you respond makes a big difference on how much it hurts you.

don't wait too long to answer negative reviews

Photo by JeShoots

1. Don’t Wait Too Long To Respond

While you don’t have to drop everything and respond instantly – in fact, that might look a bit odd – you shouldn’t sleep on it, either. When you get a negative review, it’s important to get to it quickly, because the longer it sits, the more time there is for people to see it. If you respond well to a bad review, it can make your company look better, but if people see the bad review without a response, that’s all they’ve got to go on. You should try to respond to a negative review in a couple of days, never more than a week.

2. Find Out What Triggered The Negative Review

Before you can address a bad review, you have to determine why the customer left one in the first place. Sometimes, just reading the review will be enough. A good reviewer will leave very specific information about their experience and make it easy to identify the problem. Not everybody’s good at this, though; sometimes you get one sentence reviews like “Terrible business,” or “I’m never working with them again.” Not much to go on here, so what do you do?

The first thing is to try and contact the customer and find out. Whenever we get a bad review, we make a point of reaching out to our clients to find out why they felt the need to leave one. We usually call within the same business day if we can.

Of course, the nature of our business means we have the contact information of all our customers, so it’s easy to get in touch if we have to. If you don’t have that, you may have to reply directly to the review itself (if the platform allows that) to ask. However you do it, find out exactly what the problem is before you act.

3. Address the Problem Behind The Negative Review

Once you know what the problem is, you can address it. Sometimes the problem is simple. Maybe there was a problem with the product sent. You can offer to replace it if they come back in to show you the defective product. Maybe they had a bad experience with someone in your store. You can find out who caused the problem and deal with them appropriately.

Simple solutions are best when they present themselves. If you address the problem quickly and to the customer’s satisfaction, you can sometimes make them a lifelong customer. Sometimes, they’re willing to change or take down their negative review after you resolve the problem.

On the other hand, not all bad reviews can be easily fixed. Maybe the customer just doesn’t respond to you when you try to find out how to fix it. Maybe they refuse to work with you. If they refuse to work with you when you attempt to fix it, there’s really nothing you can do about that. You should still make the attempt, though, because if people see that you try to correct the issue, that still looks better than if you ignore it. It tells other customers that their satisfaction is important to you and you’re willing to try.

In some cases, you get customers who will be so hostile that they go out of their way to slander your business repeatedly, despite your best efforts. This is very rare, thankfully, and when it happens, you should seek legal advice, as it will be impossible for you to fix the problem through negotiations.

And then there’s the fake reviewers.

online marketing and SEO3. Disputing Bad Reviews

Fake reviews happen. You don’t want to go accusing every negative review of this, but keep your eye out for them. Sometimes, they’re obvious. We’ve seen some of our customers get reviews from people accusing them of selling products they don’t sell. We’ve heard of cases where reviews accuse a company’s employees of doing something inappropriate, but there’s no one working for the company by the name they give.

Sometimes, despite the best efforts to track it down, they can’t find anything to suggest the described event even happened. In some cases where businesses keep track of their customers, they get reviews from people who’ve never been customers.

Not all bogus reviews are fake. Sometimes people leave reviews on the wrong company by mistake. In one case, we saw a man leave a negative review saying that the product he bought from one client didn’t do a thing the product wasn’t designed to do. One of our clients got a negative review because their company truck cut the reviewer off in traffic. Things like this aren’t valid complaints, but they aren’t fake either.

When this happens, there are ways to dispute the review. Google, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau, and many other platforms have a process for this. It can be a fast process, but there are some things you’ll need to do.

First, you need to address it online. Make it clear that you have no record of the customer ever being a client, or that the complaints they make don’t match up with any product or service you offer. If the review was left by mistake and you can point this out to the customer, they’ll usually correct it on their own. Other times, you need to do what you can to make it clear that the review isn’t really accurate to your business, or to events.

After you’ve done this, if you can’t resolve the issue on your own, you may have the option to report it to the review platform. They will investigate the matter on their own, usually with your assistance. If they can confirm that the review is fake, it will be taken down. This is an option you should only rely on if you are absolutely sure the review is fake, however; deleting negative reviews that aren’t fake will look like you’re trying to hide evidence, which can backfire.

3.5. Fake Positive Reviews Are Just As Bad

While on the lookout for fake bad reviews, watch out for fake positive ones, too. There are companies out there who charge money to write positive reviews for companies and Google does not like this. If Google suspects that you’re getting fake positive reviews, they’ll penalize you for it. If you report them, Google will at least know that you aren’t paying people to give you fake reviews.

Also, if someone leaves a positive review that contains false information, it can mislead customers as to what your business is about, which can case problems in the future. This is why you should address fake reviews right away, whether they’re good or bad.

4. Bury Negative Reviews With Positive Ones

Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, you can’t resolve the issue with the customer. If that’s the case, all you can do is make sure that the good outweighs the bad. People expect any company to have a few negative reviews here and there. In fact, if a company has a lot of online reviews and none of them are bad, it looks suspicious. At some point, you gotta let it go.

In that case, you can work to bury the negative review under positive ones. This is why it’s a good idea to be asking for reviews from all of your customers. People are less likely to think about leaving a review if the experience is good, but many are happy to if they are reminded. If you’ve got a lot of customers who you know where satisfied and they haven’t reviewed you, consider contacting them and asking if they’d be willing to help you out.

5. Dealing With Reviews from Employees

Employees can leave reviews as well as customers and this is a sticky subject. A disgruntled employee can do a lot of damage, while a positive review can look like you’re trying to cheat by having employees give you good reviews. You have to approach them on a case by case basis. In general, we don’t advise you to allow employees to leave reviews of your business. Still, sometimes its acceptable, so be sure you know the situation before you allow it.

In cases where employees leave a negative review out of spite, you want to be very tactful in how you deal with this. Prevention is usually the best case scenario – and we don’t mean with NDAs or hiring agreements. If your employees are having issues, try to address those issues before they go out of control. Try to avoid a fight if possible and if you have to fire an employee, make sure you document everything properly. Sometimes these cases can go to court. It doesn’t happen often, but if it does, you should make sure you have the documentation to prove your case. Make sure your HR team is up to date on the situation and helping you deal with it.

Getting good reviews reduces the impact of negative reviews6. Be Proactive!

The best way to deal with bad reviews is prevent them in the first place. Having quality products and services is the first step, but you never know when something will just go wrong. We suggest always following up with customers after the transaction is complete. You can automate the initial follow-up process so that every customer is contacted some time after they do business with you to see how they’re doing. If their response shows problems, that’s a chance for you to address the issues before they even leave a negative review.

Furthermore, if you are following up with customers and finding them happy, then that’s an opportunity to ask for reviews. While it is important to deal with negative reviews properly, getting plenty of positive reviews is ultimately more important, so don’t waste the opportunity to ask satisfied customers to do you a favor. It’s a win-win situation for you.

Need Help?

Being proactive about online reviews is the best way to keep your company’s reputation looking good. It can be a lot of work though. Automation can take a lot of the workload off, but it can’t do everything. It’s not always clear what you can automate, or what you should automate. If you want to be more proactive, but don’t know how to start, why not give us a call?

We’ve been in this game for years now and we know our way around the tools. We can help you set up automated email campaigns that will handle the business of initial follow-ups. Our system will encourage people who are satisfied with the services to leave a positive review, while asking those who aren’t satisfied to tell you more about the experience instead. Then, you can look at the complaints your customers have and address them before they ever think about going for reviews.

And that’s only one of the services we have available for you to take advantage of. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, get in touch with us today!