You got a negative review. Now what?

Negative online reviews might feel like a death sentence, but try not to lose your head. 

Negative online reviews might feel like a death sentence, but try not to lose your head. 

One of the most powerful marketing tools your business has is its reputation. But, that reputation can be tarnished quickly with just one bad review. In fact, studies show that just one bad review can cost a business around 30 customers, and a one-star change in your rating can affect revenue by 5-9%.

So, what’s a small business owner to do? Is there a way you can remove that horrendous review on Yelp, Google, or Facebook? Every business is bound to get a bad review at one point or another, but there are things you can do to alleviate the negative effects.    

Here’s what NOT to do:

1. Don’t obsess about removing the review

Reading a bad review about the business you’ve worked so hard to build can be infuriating — especially when you think the review isn’t true. But don't obsess about trying to remove the review. Odds are, that's not going to happen.

Yes, some companies that claim they can make all of your review troubles disappear, but it’s not that easy. Online review sites make it very hard to remove bad reviews, and they sometimes go one step further by blacklisting companies that attempt to remove bad reviews.

Moreover, even if you're successful (which is unlikely), you’ll lose credibility and trust if customers discover that you've removed a legitimate review. No matter how you look at it, trying to get rid of a bad review is a lose-lose situation unless you can prove it’s fraudulent. Resist the urge to go guns blazing after negative reviews. 

2. Don’t attack the reviewer

Yes, your blood might boil after reading a scathing review someone has written about your business, but don’t lash out. Fighting fire with fire isn’t going to help the situation—it’s only likely to ignite even more fury from the reviewer.

Take a deep breath, even walk away, before formulating a response. Take some time to think about what was said. Is there a legitimate concern? Is there something you can improve? How can you use this opinion to make your business and product better? 

3. Don’t post fake reviews

You can certainly bury a negative review by receiving a bunch of positive ones, but stay away from the temptation of writing fake reviews. Chances are, your customers will see right through this tactic and you’ll once again lose credibility and trust. Plus, this practice is banned by the FTC! 

Here’s what you SHOULD do: 

1. Respond to the reviewer

You should always respond to negative reviews, but be sure to tread lightly. There are three steps to getting it right:

  • First, listen. Yes, it might be painful to read those fiery words, but don’t disregard them.
  • Second, apologize. This simple gesture can go further than you might think. Most customers understand that everyone has a bad day.
  • Third, show how you’ll solve the problem. If you respond with an attempt to make things right, other customers are likely to keep an open mind about the situation. Moreover, research shows that up to 70% of complaining customers will use your business again if you resolve their concerns. 

2. Generate authentic positive reviews

One of the best ways to dilute the power of a negative review is to hide it among several positive reviews. But, if you’re not supposed to write fake reviews, how can you start getting more positive reviews?

You’ve got to proactively ask your customers to provide reviews. If you’re not sure where to begin, Womply Get Reviews can help. With Get Reviews, you can keep negative customer feedback private and proactively encourage your happiest customers to write positive online reviews about your business. 

3. Act on the feedback

There’s a silver lining to receiving a scathing review—it presents an opportunity for you to improve your business. Your unsatisfied customers likely have the most valuable information you can use to grow your business. Listen with an open mind and implement their feedback when it makes sense.    

Read about how Kimana Littleflower did just that to improve a signature dish at her popular South Carolina eatery.

Don’t lose sleep over negative online reviews. Instead, take a proactive approach to prevent them from happening and manage them when they do happen. If you’d like to learn how Womply can help your business, request a demo.