Bad reviews can spell disaster for your business.
In our hyper-social world, people rely heavily on the testimonials of past customers before making a buying decision. In fact, in some cases, only 5% of consumers convert after finding a negative review for a product. So, it’s easy to see why so many business owners frantically scramble to figure out how to remove bad reviews.
But let’s face it, sometimes bad reviews are unavoidable.
They’re part and parcel of running a business. Afterall, you can’t please everyone. And in many cases, a lot of damage can be mitigated simply by having a good reputation management strategy.
As they say, the best offense is a good defense. So, here’s what we suggest before you do anything else.
Try to smooth things over with the customer first.
If the customer had a bad experience with your business, your first line of defense is communicating with them ASAP. A public comment to the review has the dual effect of showing other customers that you handle disputes with grace. But use your best judgement. Some complaints might be handled better privately with a personal message or even a phone call.
See if there’s anything you can do to make the situation right for the customer. Best case scenario, he or she will update the review with a better rating.
But there’s a difference between good-faith complaints from unhappy customers and people looking to do your business real harm. So, what do we do about the trolls that just want to watch the world burn?
Most review sites have policies explaining how to remove bad reviews.
Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, and other major review platforms each have their own way of removing reviews that violate their content guidelines. But most of them follow the same basic process. Generally, prohibited content includes profanity, hate speech, threats, promotions, conflicts of interest, and other forms of spam.
Platform-specific Review Guidelines
- Google: https://support.google.com/contributionpolicy/answer/7400114
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/guidelines
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/
- Angie’s List: https://www.angieslist.com/angies-list-membership-agreement.htm
If a review on your business page violates the guidelines, all the platforms have a similar route of action you can take.
Report, report, report!
If you suspect that you’ve received an overly defamatory or fake review that might damage your business, report it ASAP! While under investigation, we suggest that you respond to the review as if it were real. This will let anyone who sees the review know that you tried to resolve the issue, and hopefully they will overlook it.
Platform-specific directions for reporting reviews:
- Google: https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en
- Yelp: https://www.yelp-support.com/article/How-do-I-report-a-review?l=en_US
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/1753719584844061?helpref=hc_global_nav
- Angie’s List: https://www.angieslist.com/faq/negative-reviews-list/
Follow up on your complaint.
It may take several days for moderators to get to your reported review. But after this window, it’s a good idea to follow up with support to make sure the issue is being handled. Make your case for why you believe the review is in violation of the platform’s content guidelines.
If necessary, get legal.
If a platform doesn’t remove a review after it’s been reported, and you believe that it is truly defamatory, you might consider taking legal action. Google has a legal removal request form that you can fill out in these circumstances. But it should be mentioned that this process usually requires you to seek legal advice. So, this route can be time-consuming and costly and should be reserved only as a last resort.
When dealing with bad reviews, keep a calm and level head.
When the success of your business hinges on public customer feedback, it’s tough not to panic over bad reviews. It can be particularly stressful handling vulgar comments, or reviews you believe to be fake. In any case, the best course of action to is to act swiftly and professionally.
Need help managing your online reviews? We want to hear from you! Fill out a contact form, or call us at (847) 254-0837