It can be hard when someone speaks negatively about you or your business. It stings. It’s embarrassing. It can make us want to run and hide. With the prolific nature of the internet, however, it can be far more than just blush worthy. As much as we may want to, the WORST thing to do is bury your head in the sand.
Though no one wants to hear or read ugly things about his or her business, criticism can be very useful. It can shine a light on an issue in your business that you may not have otherwise noticed.
From an SEO perspective, negative reviews do play a part in your overall local search rankings as well.
So, what’s a business owner to do? Can we remove it? Can we ask Google to take it down? Sadly, it is out of our control. Google will only remove reviews if they are abusive, and even then, it is pretty rare.
There is hope, however. The following tips will help you minimize damage of any negative reviews and can make you look good doing it.
Walk a mile in their shoes. That simple practice alone can alleviate most of the ills of the world. Leave a response with empathy. Try to understand why someone may feel the way they do. We are emotional creatures. All of us. Just the act of being heard can be enough to bring a person back from the brink. On the flip side, if you seem dismissive you will only encourage the person to get more angry and take further action.
Take responsibility for the situation. End of Story. People don’t care whose fault it is, they just want it fixed! Pointing fingers is pointless. The true definition of an apology is ‘to wish an action can be undone’. Even if you’re not solely responsible, I’m sure you wish it didn’t happen. Remember that the goal is swift resolution. Offer an apology, a solution and a resolution.
Ask for the reviewer’s contact information and contact them directly. When speaking one to one you can usually diffuse the situation and in many cases get the person to remove the negative review. If you are not sure who the customer is, ask them in your comment response to contact you so you can talk directly with them. Let them know that you want to speak directly with them to resolve this problem.
If you think it may be your competition trashing you, they probably will not respond. Wait a few days and comment again, stating clearly that we checked our records and could not find your information, please contact us so we can resolve this. Viewers will see that you are actively trying to engage and fix the problem.
4. Turn the frown upside down
If it was truly a misunderstanding and you go out of your way to make it better you can turn a once negative review into a raving customer. Most people who are upset appreciate the fact that you care enough to make it right and will tell others.
People are reasonable and forgiving, usually. Do the right thing and many people with either remove the bad review or at least amend it. The key here is follow through. MAKE SURE YOU DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO.
Once you’ve gone through the steps of handling a negative review, be sure to encourage positive reviews. Most people don’t think to leave positive reviews unless you ask. If you do ask, however, most people are happy to oblige.
Though the act of addressing a problem is a relatively simple one, it can get a bit uncomfortable at times. Online as in life, it is always best to face these things in a straight forward fashion.