Dealing With A Negative Review, Get 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 on what is the most visible directory listing with reviews – the Google Business Profile listing.
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, proactive “build reviews plan” that not only pursues good reviews but in doing so also serves to protect against a negative review. It is a plan that MUST become standard operating procedure (SOP) for your business!
What follows is a summarized plan and why it is 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 and pursue AND
3) POSITIVE OVERWHELMS NEGATIVE: by building a lot of good reviews your business will serve to overwhelm any bad reviews, for if one or more ever come! By accumulating a lot of good reviews an unfair negative review can be buried in all of the good. And now a visitor is presented with a genuine picture of the business where a negative review has less, if not any, impact on their perception and next steps.
Direction For How To Address A Negative Review
In circumstances where a negative review is going to remain live, the Google Business Profile 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 is 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 may lean toward that consumer when they see it. We must understand WE are speaking to the public and the next 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 to 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 offered and 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&sjid=3890242393582949001-NA
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.
Google Business Profile Listing Management Setup
Google Listing reviews are the most visible by far, so it is necessary for your business to get control of and manage a Google Busienss Profile listing. If not already, here is the link to gain control of and verify a ‘Google My Business’ account listing: https://www.google.com/business/. Once there, type the business name into the search bar and, if one already exists, click on the matching name and location as it appears. From there Google will direct on how to fill out the information necessary to claim control over a listing. If no listing exists, it will walk one through how to create one, If circumstances are that somebody else has already claimed your 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 then 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.
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