3 things to consider before trying to remove a negative review

When you get a negative review, it’s natural to want it gone. You work hard to maintain your brand and business reputation. You want to protect, preserve, and keep that reputation clean and sharp.

But as well all know, even the most loved and highest rated businesses get the occasional negative review. How you respond is key. It could cost your business future-customers, or it could unlock the recipe for success.

Around 90% of customers look at business ratings and read reviews before shopping, dining, or using services. So before you try to take down a negative review (which is easier said than done), consider these three things. They will help you make sure you take the right steps in the right order.

Boost your star rating by getting more reviews from your best customers. Womply Reputation Management for local businesses can help. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

1. Have you tried to resolve the issue?

Sometimes customers just need to vent. They need a place to let off steam, and they do it online. Don’t stress. Negative reviews come with the territory of running a small business. It’s natural to feel the need to go on the defense, but there are better ways to handle a negative review. You can try to resolve their issue.

Worst case: Even if a complaining customer never comes back, going on the defense and attacking them will only drive other customers away. By responding and trying to resolve the issue, your other customers will see you tried to help make things right for the complaining customer. Customers like to know that business stand by their word and are willing to help if expectations aren’t met.

Best case scenario (and most likely outcome): You use the negative review to spur repeat business—70% of complaining customers will come back if you resolve their problem. In many cases, the complaint is misguided or stems from a simple misunderstanding. Taking a second to hear the customer’s experience may be all it takes to resolve the problem and convert a negative reviewer into a repeat shopper.

We have some tips on responding to a negative reviews. Also, read how Nathan Stuart, owner of Seafood Kitchen in Florida, turns negative reviews into repeat business. 

2. Are you trying to boost your overall online review score?

There is no doubt that online business reviews pack a punch that can be both positive and negative.

Studies have shown that a one-star change to your overall rating can increase revenues 39% and an unresolved negative review can cost your business upwards of 30 new customers. Add in the fact that negative reviews are plain frustrating and we’ve got a tempting recipe to game the system. Don’t do it.

Negative reviews can be removed if they fall under certain circumstances. But trying to remove the negative review just to increase the overall rating can get you into trouble with the FTC.

In the past, businesses have tried to bury, hide, or remove negative reviews to game the system. Customers can see through these kinds of tactics. And you may cause more damage than good by trying to find a workaround.

If you’d like to know if the negative review you’re trying to remove qualifies, check with the guides and standards of the platform. Every platform has regulations and rules for reviewers and businesses. They’ll be able to help you decide if you have a legitimate reason to have the review removed.

Most of the time, the best strategy for boosting your online review score is to encourage your best customers to share their experience online. Trying to remove negative reviews is an uphill battle and the least effective path to getting over the coveted 4-star rating mark.

3. Does the customer have a point?

That may seem like a harsh question, but not all complaints are wrong, nor are they a bad thing. It can be hard to admit that there are areas of your business that need some extra attention. The truth is, sometimes things slip through the cracks.

When The Junction Kitchen & Provisions, a South Carolina based eatery, experienced an influx of negative reviews, they took a closer look. Not only did they find the complaints to be accurate, they literally found the recipe for success. Customers had been complaining about one of the restaurant’s feature entrees, but instead of attacking the reviewers, the restaurant’s owner took the opportunity to listen to the customer feedback. The owner worked with the kitchen to remedy the recipe and what they got in return was overwhelming praise from their customers.

“I really try to stay on top of my reviews by acknowledging positive reviews and responding to the occasional negative one,” restaurant owner Kimana Littleflower says. “You have to take it all in stride and learn from it.”

That model is working for Junction Kitchen & Provisions, and it’s the new template for running a successful small business in the age of online reviews. You can read more about Junction Kitchen & Provisions and their story here.

Last thought

Negative reviews don’t have to have a negative impact on your business. Customers expect to see negative reviews when they’re reading testimonials. It’s only when they go unaddressed or when the business goes on the defense that a negative impact is felt. So don’t obsess or worry when you receive a negative review. Rather, think of it as an opportunity to engage with customers and improve your business.

That said, sometimes businesses receive the erroneous negative reviews. It could be that it was intended for another business but ended up on your review page, or it could be that their claims are off-base. The best way to manage negative reviews is to handle them individually. Listen, respond, and try to resolve the complaint before trying to have it taken down.

Plus, new research from Womply shows that negative online business reviews aren’t necessarily as harmful as you might think. Businesses with between 10 and 25% negative reviews make the most money!

Take action

Managing your online business reviews can be very time-consuming. There are dozens of review sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare. You already have enough work on your plate, which is why Womply makes sure your online reputation is protected.

We’ll notify you anytime you receive customer feedback or negative reviews that need a response. You’ll never be caught off-guard again. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!


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