Are you an employer with an online business profile? Do you use Facebook, Instagram or Google My Business to promote your services on the web? If so, then you likely receive customer reviews on a regular basis. That means you probably get the occasional negative review as well as glowing positive feedback!
Many employers are not sure how to deal with negative reviews, especially when they’re posted on a public platform for the whole world to see. However, it’s never a good idea to ignore a bad review—you may turn away customers, and even new recruits! So, what should you do when someone’s published less-than-flattering feedback about your services or products?
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the why and the how of properly replying to negative reviews. Read on for all the insider details!
Why should you respond to negative reviews?
We get it. It’s very tempting to hide from negative reviews and pretend they don’t exist. Unfortunately, that’s one of the worst things you can do.
A negative review with no response from your company may be interpreted as a lack of empathy and responsibility towards customers. In the worst-case scenario, some potential customers might see it as an admission of guilt. Believe it or not, negative reviews can even deter prospective job candidates from applying to your job listings!
By replying professionally to a negative review, you present yourself as a respectful, engaged business owner that cares about their customers. It also gives you a chance to properly defend your business to the public. If done with tact and from a place of genuine compassion, your audience may even believe your side of the story over that of the original poster.
What’s more, by giving the original poster a chance to contact your customer service team, you may be able to resolve the issue they had and avoid losing their business. If you’re really good, you may even get them to delete the review, or write a positive one to counteract it!
These are just some of the positive outcomes that can happen if you respond to your negative reviews. But let’s face it, you can’t please everybody. Even if you give it your best, you might not come to an agreement with the disgruntled client. If nothing else, you’ll learn from the feedback and grow from the experience.
Fake reviews vs. legitimate reviews
Fake reviews are more common than you might think. Unfortunately, creating fake business reviews is a lucrative practice in some industries. It’s an illegal practice, but it happens and it’s hard to police too.
These people on the internet purposely target businesses with false negative reviews to damage their reputation and ranking success. Sadly, it can be an effective strategy to damage public opinion of a competitor.
The good news is that Google and many other online platforms are actively fighting against such scammers and have steps you can take to protect your business if you suspect you’re being attacked online. If you’ve received a poor review and you suspect it’s a fake, report it. Google will investigate the review and if they determine it’s a fake, they’ll take it down.
If you’re not sure if a review is legitimate or not, here are some common signs of fake or malicious feedback:
- The review is vague and doesn’t appear to specify the problem.
- The feedback blatantly promotes a competitor’s product/service.
- The review was published before your product was even launched.
- The reviewer’s profile was created shortly before the review was published and doesn’t show any other activity.
- The reviewer’s name is not on your customer records.
Keep in mind, even if some of these statements are true, it isn’t a guarantee the review is a phony. Take your time to objectively assess if the review is a scam before you report it. If you have one of your employees in charge of your online platforms, consider training them on how to methodically monitor and identify reviews.
How to respond to fake reviews
As we mentioned earlier, you should always respond to a negative review. Even if you suspect it’s a fake one and you’ve already reported it. It can take some time for Google to investigate your report, so it’s a good idea to respond in the meantime.
Why? Because consumers (and job seekers) read reviews. If you’ve got a handful of one or two-star reviews on your profile, you can bet your prospective customers and employees are going to find them. Potential customers often specifically look for negative reviews so that they can get an idea of the drawbacks of your service or product. A polite, well-crafted response on your part can flip the script and change how the public views the situation.
For example, let’s say you have a malicious review that you believe to be a scam. You’ve flagged the review already, but for the time being, the negative feedback is still a blemish on your otherwise pristine online profile. You could write a response that hints at the reasons why you believe the review to be false. Here’s an example of what you could write:
“Hello [reviewer name], thank you for your review. At ABC company, we value our customers’ feedback. However, upon investigating your comment, we cannot find any record of your name or transaction in our system. We’d love to opportunity to speak with you about your experience with us. We invite you to contact us at [phone number].”
Most online readers are savvy. They’re aware that scammers exist, and your response to a malicious review could impact how they perceive what happened. If your comment subtly suggests the review is fake, you can be confident that reasonable readers will interpret the original review with a grain of salt.
It goes without saying: never reply to fake reviews in an unprofessional manner! Accusing people outright as scammers, insulting them or threatening to contact the authorities will damage your online reputation just as much as the 1-star rating itself. Be calm, polite and collected with your responses, no matter how hurtful the review may be.
How to respond to real online reviews
If you get a genuine negative review from an unsatisfied client, respond graciously and humbly. Here’s an example of a great response to real negative feedback:
“Hello [reviewer name], I am sorry to hear that your experience with us was less than satisfactory. At ABC company, our goal is to deliver a superior client experience for everyone. We would love to resolve this issue for you. Please reach out to us at [phone number] so that we can look into this further. Thank you!”
At the end of the day, getting negative feedback is a part of doing business. Try looking at it as a valuable opportunity rather than a setback. Dissatisfied customers give you a chance to improve and grow as a business owner, and ultimately that’s a good thing.
The advice in this article will help you protect your reputation among potential customers and new hires when you get a negative business review online. For more insider tips, check out our other blog posts!