It has never been easier to research a business, especially with all the sites offering online reviews. Whether your business has an online presence or only a brick-and-mortar store, prospective customers can check out reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare and many other sites.
Considering how important your business’s online reputation is, it’s natural to worry about any bad reviews and wonder how much each one will affect your business. Although you obviously want to have predominantly positive reviews, it’s also important to understand that not all bad reviews are created equal.
A Bad Review Isn’t Always Bad for Your Business
Most business owners assume that it’s best if their business has 100-percent positive reviews. This actually couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Think about how you evaluate businesses and products when you read reviews online. If you’re like most shoppers, you likely have a bit of distrust for anything that has all positive reviews.
When something has all positive reviews, the typical shopper will either assume that these reviews aren’t legitimate, or that the company has found ways to bury negative reviews.Shoppers know that no company is perfect, and they don’t expect yours to be. When they see the occasional bad review, that makes them trust the positive reviews more.
It’s important to realize that a shopper isn’t going to see a negative review for your company and automatically decide not to choose you, especially if you have quite a few positive reviews that more than make up for it. Instead, they’ll read the content of that negative review to see what the problem was. If the critique isn’t a deal breaker for them, then they may still choose your service. They’ll also be looking to see how you handled the negative review and if you rectified the situation.
Of course, there are certain types of bad reviews that don’t benefit you at all and can do serious damage to your business.
The Most Damaging Bad Reviews
You should never ignore a bad review, but there are some of them that you’ll want to prioritize and handle immediately.
Any harassment allegations, including racial or sexual harassment, need to be addressed right away. Start by getting in touch with the customer to get their side of the story, and let them know that you take these sorts of allegations very seriously. You’ll need to take disciplinary action with any offending employees, and you may even want to have them apologize to the customer.
Reviews that are highly negative towards your business can also cause significant damage to its online reputation. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine if the review has merit or if it’s simply a disgruntled consumer libeling your business and employees. If it’s the latter, review sites typically allow you to flag reviews like this to get them removed. If the review is legitimate, you should apologize to the customer and take steps to make the situation right.
How You Should Handle Bad Reviews
Although some bad reviews are more damaging than others, it’s never good to ignore them. When shoppers see this, it looks like you’re ignoring previous customers.
The first thing you should do upon seeing a bad review is figure out if this is an isolated incident or if multiple customers have had the same complaint. If you keep getting the same complaint, this shows you where your business needs to improve. After you’ve fixed the problem, you can respond to any reviews that mentioned this issue with an apology and an explanation of how you corrected things.
If this was an isolated incident, you should respond to the customer with an apology and ask them to continue the conversation privately. This will give the two of you more freedom to speak, and you can see if this is a problem you need to address in your business.
No matter the situation that led to a negative review, it’s always good to offer a gift code or a refund to the customer, as it’s a nice gesture that can make the difference in them giving your business another chance later.
You should also remind customers about leaving positive reviews, because this will help improve your business’s online reputation. One option is to send all your customers thank you emails that include links to leave your business a review on your site of choice. You can also ask customers who have left negative reviews if they will leave a positive update after you’ve resolved the issue with them.
Taking Control of Your Business’s Online Reputation
The occasional bad review isn’t the end of the world, especially if you respond to them appropriately. But there are situations where upset customers are especially persistent in criticizing your business, even if it’s not warranted.
Unfortunately, once someone has attacked your business online, you can’t erase it. What you can do is find an online reputation management company to help.
BrightPast specializes in building strong, positive online reputations for businesses. It can get negative URLs removed from page 1 of the Google search results, and once a site is off page 1, it might as well not even exist anymore. Very few web users look past the first page of the search results, especially when they’re shopping or looking for info on a business.
If your goal is to build a positive reputation for your business, BrightPast can also help with that through the creation and promotion of positive URLs, press releases and extra professional content additions.
Whether you’re trying to clean up your business’s reputation or protect it, it can happen as quickly as two weeks when you choose BrightPast. To learn more and get started, request your consultation today. You can go over your current reputation management goals for your business with a qualified member of the BrightPast team.