The saying ‘There’s no such thing as bad press’ may work for celebrities that feed off of the drama to stay relevant and sensational, but when it comes to your business, bad press can lead to an impending reputation crisis.
The Top 8 sites garner 99% of all reviews hosted on the internet, and oftentimes online reviews are taken with as much weight as word of mouth. So, for new and growing business owners, it’s not only essential you monitor what is being said about you, but to also have strategies to deal appropriately and quickly with negative or fake reviews.
Can you sue for bad reviews? Sometimes, yes. But you will have to have a strong case as to why and how a particular review is impacting your business. So before taking legal (and pricey) action towards defamation, it’s easier than you think to take things into your own hands. There are two ways you can rectify a negative or slanderous review.
First, is to contact the customer directly. It can be helpful to respond to them publicly first, so you and your business prove to care about your customer concerns and so other potential customers that have similar concerns get their questions answered (more on this in point two).
The second, is a bit more extreme and you may be thinking, is it even legal to block or remove bad reviews for my benefit? Absolutely! Google has pretty specific violation guidelines that work to a business owners’ advantage to contact a platform directly to have the review removed. This is an extreme measure for extreme cases like if a review is false, unfair, or defamatory. In this case, you could get legal parties involved, but overall, you’ll need to be prepared to explain why and how the review is negatively impacting your business. The top way to prove that a review is fake is to show proof of repeat negative content from the same account. If you need removal because of defamation, you will need to be specific in showcasing inappropriate content (like nudity, etc.), racial slander, or excessive profanity. And if you know a review is false, like you have proof the bad reviews are being posted by competitors or people leaving reviews for places they didn’t actually visit, this is grounds to remove a review too.
Bottom line, reviews can be hard to manage, and bad reviews can be even harder to get rid of. So, if you find yourself in a reputation crisis due to false, extremely negative, or defamatory reviews, you have options to rectify the issue.
In cases where the reviews are based on customer experience and are unsatisfactory but nonetheless, true, an amplified level of customer service is needed!
You do not want to turn your comments/reviews into a Reddit subthread that exchanges multiple messages back and forth and takes the form of an argument versus customer service. In the case you must respond more than once to a customer complaint, review, or feedback, it’s best you move the next communication offline. This also allows for more interpersonal relationships to be built whether through verbal or written communication. In this case, it’s essential to remember, compassion is king.
When reading a negative review or critique of your business, it’s likely you may feel attacked and frustrated that the customer doesn’t understand you or would react in a public way. While your reaction is valid, it’s important to move beyond this and see the opportunity to rebuild trust with your audience. Reacting in a way that proves you want to create a connection is a win-win because 33% of customers who received a response to their negative review later changed it to be more positive, while 34% deleted their negative review! When replying to negativity, remember to keep your tone friendly and understanding. It’s often best to personalize it with a name if available, acknowledge what was written and add the steps that will be taken internally. Sign off with your name and position, to again, make it more personal + so they may be able to easily identify/ask for you when they return!
Lastly, sometimes your only option is to bury the negative review by accumulating way more positive reviews you can boast. Adding onto the customer service you are providing above, you’ll want to prioritize acting on or fixing the issue if the claim is valid so positivity flows in the next time someone receives your product or service and boosts your reputation and star-rating!
In your efforts to bury the hatchet (and bad reviews) review request marketing is dedicated toward outreach to past customers so you can boast fresh, positive reviews. You may have seen this type of marketing before because it doesn’t only have to be about the product or service just purchased. If you are in a reputation pickle and want to bring in positivity quickly and easily while staying ethical, companies often implement pop-ups on their sites after a purchase is made asking visitors to rate their experience. This practice is useful to identify Net Promoters Scores, which ask how likely someone is to refer your product or service to another through word of mouth (the most effective type of marketing and review). When information is collected about this customer at checkout via email, they will make a great addition to targeted email marketing campaigns to buy with you again, write more detailed reviews when you need them for certain products and potentially send your content to a friend!
The sad truth is every single day there is more negativity shared online than positivity. If you are facing a reputation crisis because of negative, false, or defamatory reviews there is always a way to bounce back! Being strategic in your responses and marketing efforts doesn’t make you any less ethical, precautionary review and reputation management strategies prepare you for a crisis and help you bounce back quicker, so you can get back to business!