Ah, online reviews. We all loathe them, and yet, we can’t stay away. Surely you’ve experienced the dread of checking a review website like Yelp to see your small business’s latest one-star sentiment—something along the lines of “Ugh! Worst place ever!”
Sure, it’s uncomfortable when someone criticizes our work, but many business owners don’t realize that poorly managed online reviews can cost more than just your pride—they can cost you money!
In this blog post, I will help show how intelligent management and creative thinking can avoid costly negative feedback on review sites. Of course, this isn’t an exact science but with my recommendations (informed by years in the trenches as a small business owner), let’s set ourselves up for success instead of dreading every notification about a new review being posted.
Sit back, buckle up and get ready for this wild ride, avoiding expensive mistakes from bad reviews!
What Are Online Reviews, And Why Are They Important
We’ve all been there before. For example, you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, so you turn to online reviews to see what others think. Or maybe you’re in the market for a new car, and you want to see what people say about different models before making a decision. Online reviews are essential to the modern consumer’s research process and can be just as crucial for small businesses.
Online reviews provide potential customers with valuable information about your products or services. They can also help to build trust and credibility, two essential factors in any successful business. And while good online reviews are undoubtedly important, it’s also essential to keep an eye on negative reviews and take steps to address them. After all, potential customers will be reading those too.
In short, online reviews matter. If you’re not paying attention to them, you could be missing out on valuable feedback – or worse, losing business to a competitor who is.
How To Prevent Negative Online Reviews In The First Place
The best way to deal with negative reviews is never to get them in the first place!
I know… I know, easier said than done. Regardless, it is the right approach to take.
What follows are three of my favorite strategies for preventing negative reviews and encouraging positive ones.
1. Brand Positioning As An Authority
Perception is reality—plain and simple.
How your target market perceives you will influence how they receive future interaction with your brand!
For the fans of your brand, it’s like wearing a filter over their eyes that makes everything you do look and appear better than maybe it is. In the old days, we used to call those beer goggles. 😉
If they perceive your product or brand as the only obvious choice when shopping for what you offer—happy days! You’ll likely get their business, and your customer’s experience with you will be on a trajectory of success.
Even when their experience falls below what they expected (or would have liked), they’ll cut you some slack. They may even find themselves making excuses (to themselves and others) on your behalf as to why you fell short.
Again perception is reality! They perceive you as the authority; therefore, you are!
The chances of them writing you a bad review at this point are slim.
Because doing so would make them wrong about you—it would mean that maybe they aren’t as good a judge of character as they’d like to believe.
It’s like I said—beer goggles!
All in all, it behooves you to put effort into positioning your brand (and offering) as the authority—the best their money can buy.
2. Communicating Clearly and Consistently
It should be evident that communicating clearly and consistently is one of the most important facets of providing good, let alone excellent, customer service. So why is this such a breakdown for so many?
Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than feeling like they are being ignored or their comments are not appreciated. A single miscommunication—just one—can mean the difference between getting a glowing review or having to face the possibility of an aggressive negative review from a pissed-off customer.
If we learn one thing, let it be that communicating with our customers in a timely and helpful manner prevents negative online reviews in the first place. The communications I’m referring to span the entire buyer’s journey.
Think about what I just said. I’m not only referring to the one conversation your sales rep has with the then prospect. I’m referring to all communications across all platforms with each prospect.
Am I being ridiculous? Maybe. However, this is oftentimes the expectation of your prospects and customers.
This appropriately leads us to our third strategy, implementing and automating dependable systems.
3. Implementing And Automating Dependable Systems
It’s simple. Systems breed consistency. Systems deter human error. Couple that with automation, and we have a winning combination!
You might say it’s a domino effect…
Systems + Automation = Satisfied Customers = Positive Reviews
I’d say that’s a high-five-worthy solution!
Implementing and automating dependable systems is like having your own team of rockstar virtual assistants doing your bidding online!
With systems in place, businesses can avoid many potential errors and disasters that can lead to negative reviews. Automated systems take that concept to another level—taking care of tasks more timely and accurately. Hence, there are fewer missteps and mistakes that can leave customers feeling frustrated or ignored.
By putting systems in place, businesses can show customers how dedicated they are to providing quality products and services—let alone how much those customers mean to them.
And by automating those systems, they can ensure they stay on top of their customer service game—ensuring every customer’s experience is enjoyable and memorable in a positive way—even if it’s just clicking on an automated review request link!
So don’t delay: get automating!
3 Best Online Review Sites For Small Business
Review sites are an invaluable resource when deciding which products or services to purchase or use. There is no shortage of review sites out there, but here are three examples that we think should be on your radar:
Google reviews are essential for businesses, especially those looking to improve their SEO rankings. Google reviews appear across the search engine, from Maps and Knowledge Graphs to organic search results. These reviews also play a crucial role in building trust with customers and potential customers.
And oh, in case it’s not apparent, the popular search engine Google seems to favor businesses with Google reviews.
Like it or not, Yelp is one of the most popular review sites on the web. Its user-generated content helps businesses build trust with potential customers and increase their online visibility.
Yelp also provides valuable insights into customer satisfaction and feedback, which can help businesses make improvements or changes to create a better customer experience.
And oh, by the way, the popular search engine Bing seems to favor businesses with Yelp reviews.
Facebook reviews are essential for businesses because of their broad network reach, large user base, and high engagement levels. Not only do they help you get more exposure and gain more leads, but they also aid in gaining insights into how your business is performing among customers who can spread positive word-of-mouth about your product or service online.
And oh, by the way, both popular search engines, Google and Bing, seem to favor businesses with Facebook reviews.
One big problem with Facebook reviews is the relatively large amount of spam reviews businesses receive on that platform. That alone should encourage you to pay attention there.
If your business involves travel, consider TripAdvisor. This trendy travel website provides tourists with helpful information about destinations worldwide, accommodations, restaurants, and attractions in these areas.
Customers can share their personal experiences here by leaving reviews and ratings—something that any small business owner should take advantage of to get noticed by travelers.
Sell your products on Amazon? Online reviews on Amazon can be invaluable for companies selling products on the platform. Not only do they provide helpful insights into how customers view your product or service, but online reviews are also essential for improving search engine optimization (SEO). The bottom line is that Amazon reviews can help improve customer satisfaction and drive more sales!
No matter what industry you’re in, taking the time to encourage customer feedback on these platforms can make all the difference in connecting with new prospects and building relationships with existing ones. With enough effort and effort combined with excellent customer service, your small business could soon be standing out from others in its sector like never before!
FAQs Regarding Negative Online Reviews
Should I respond to a negative online review?
In fact, respond to all of them (positive and negative reviews) whenever possible. Your response is what shows your character—and intent. It is critical in turning lemons into lemonade, so to speak.
How do I respond to a negative online review (that happens to be true)?
If you’re at fault, come to grips with it and seek to remediate the situation immediately. Here’s a simple 5-step process on how to respond to that bad review:
- Acknowledge the customer’s comments and thank them for taking the time to leave feedback.
- Reach out to the customer privately, if possible, to address their complaint and look for a solution that meets their needs. If you can satisfactorily meet their needs, consider asking them to amend or remove the bad review.
- If you can’t reach a satisfactory resolution with the customer, offer an apology for not providing the level of service they expected.
- Consider what changes you can make to ensure similar issues don’t happen in the future. This may involve exploring new processes or investing in technology solutions that enable you to serve customers better.
- Finally, consider replying publicly with your response (if appropriate)—this is an opportunity to show how you handle customer complaints openly and transparently.
Remember, although receiving a bad review is discouraging, it doesn’t necessarily mean you, your business or your product is terrible.
How do I respond to a bad review (that is malicious or simply untrue)?
It’s never easy to deal with a malicious or false review, but there are ways you can address the issue without escalating it. Here’s what you should do:
- Consider the source of the review and if it has been submitted in good faith.
- Reach out privately, if possible, and ask for further information about their experience with your product or service.
- Stay out of the mud! Avoid getting drawn into an argument—remain professional and diplomatic.
- If appropriate, publicly explain your side of the story respectfully and encourage customers to reach out for more details (if necessary).
- If the review is factually incorrect, consider flagging it for removal if this is possible on the platform where it was posted.
Can a bad online review be removed?
It is possible to remove a bad online review in some cases, but it depends on the platform where it was posted. Generally, you need to flag the review as inappropriate or misleading and explain why you believe it should be removed. However, this process can take some time, and there’s no guarantee that the review will be taken down.
It’s also essential to bear in mind that removing a review could be seen negatively by other customers if they are aware of what happened.
How do you overcome negative reviews?
Assuming that you have addressed each one thoughtfully and thoroughly, bury the negative reviews with an overwhelming amount of positive ones.
Always, always, always seek to add positive online reviews about your business! Systemization and automation are highly recommended here. Not sure how to do that? Let’s talk!
Final Thoughts On Negative Online Reviews
Negative online reviews can be costly to your business in terms of lost revenue and damage to your reputation. However, there are several things you can do to prevent them.
Position yourself as an authority in your industry, communicate clearly and consistently with your customers, and implement and automate dependable systems in your business. These steps will make you less likely to receive negative online reviews.
Want Help Improving Your Online Review Process?
Are you looking for help improving the online review process for your small business? Look no further than our comprehensive digital marketing and automation services! Our experts can craft a custom strategy to help boost your reviews, ensuring that potential customers and clients get the best impression of your business.
We understand the time sensitivities facing small businesses, so we work quickly and efficiently based on your unique needs. We’ll identify areas where you can improve to establish an engaging presence across all platforms and improve customer satisfaction.
With our experience, we can provide detailed insights on how to bolster your reviews and raise brand awareness among relevant audiences. So let us partner with you today to create a winning plan that will create positive results!
Want More On The Subject Of Preventing Negative Online Reviews?
Look at this 6-minute video I shot on this subject back in 2014. Yes, the Internet has ushered in many changes since that time. However, as you will see, our principles and overall approach to navigating business are much the same—only enhanced and exacerbated by technology.
Here are the 3 (non-traditional) approaches I was pointing out back then on how to prevent bad online reviews from happening in the first place. Notice the similarity to my points in this article?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.