You’ve worked incredibly hard to build your business. You’ve invested years of time, blood, sweat, and tears to make your business a success. You’ve built a client base of raving fans who love doing business with you. You’ve begun to see the fruits of your labor. Then it happens.
You get a bad review online. It’s out there for everyone to see and it’s hurting your reputation. How could this happen? How could all you’ve worked for all these years be summed up into this one person’s bad experience and all the hundreds of other happy customers not matter? What can you do about it? How do you remove that bad review?
First thing. Take a deep breath. Yes, negative reviews matter. A lot. Yes, they can be extremely harmful to your business. But it’s not the end of the world. This is not the first time you’ve had to deal with major challenges in building your business, and I can assure you, it will not be your last.
Next, make an honest evaluation of your business practices. What happened to cause this person to have a bad experience? Everyone makes mistakes, but you must determine if there is something fundamentally wrong with your business practices to cause this, and if so, fix it.
Now let’s do something about the negative review. Some services, such as Google+ Local allow you to respond to a review. You should use this feature to try and resolve the matter with the reviewer. Do everything you can to turn that unhappy customer into a raving fan. If that cannot be done, just apologize to the reviewer and let them know you are working to correct the problem. Thank them for taking the time to bring it to your attention. Show the public that you are taking the matter seriously and addressing the issue. People understand the businesses make mistakes. It’s what they do about it that matters. Besides, a 4.5 star rating is more believable than a perfect 5 star rating, so it’s ok!
If the review is profane, hateful, or irrelevant, you can try reporting it. There is normally a button next to a review that allows you to flag it and it might get taken down. This is the only chance you’ll have of removing a bad review, but don’t count on it. Continue to the next step either way.
Next, it’s time to bury it. Focus on getting enough positive reviews that eventually, no one will ever read that negative review because it’s so buried, they won’t ever see it. Resist the urge to go for fake reviews. People can see through them. Focus on getting your customers to leave a positive review. The best time to do that is right after the service has been rendered. Collect their email address. Immediately after the sale, send them an email thanking them for the business, then include a link to the site where they can leave a review. Don’t send them all to Google+ Local. Send them to other sites too, like Yelp, Superpages, etc. Spread the love.
Acquiring reviews should be an ongoing, permanent process in your business. Never stop. Remember that only a handful of people will take the time to leave a review for you. So it has to be an ongoing effort. You never know when that one negative review might creep in, but if you have enough positive reviews, it won’t matter. Like I said, people know you’re not perfect, and that’s ok. If they can look at your reviews and see that you have 1 or 2 negative and tons of positive, they will trust you, probably more than they would if they were all glowing reviews.
Unfortunately, you can’t just remove negative reviews online, but if you put a system in place that ensures your raving fans are louder than your biggest critics, you will see huge rewards!