We’ve all read the stories and conversations generated by bad publicity. PR disasters can be the downfall of any person, business or entity when not managed properly. Although it might feel like quite a leap from these dumpster fires to your small business’s online reputation, the message remains the same. It just takes one event to create a domino effect that can lead to reputation disasters.
Once a bad review appears online, it can have a lasting effect – unless you know how to respond to negative reviews and what it actually means to your business.
Here we answer seven common online reputation management questions to help you maintain a respectable, positive image with customers.
1. How do I manage negative reviews?
Reading a bad review about your own company can be a bit of a shock, especially when you’ve done everything in your power to make your customers happy. However, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. Therefore, you should have a strategy in place to manage your online reviews and reputation.
A reputation management policy is an important part of your overall customer service policy and should include the following guidelines:
- Include a list of the review platforms that make the most sense for your business to monitor, such as Google, Yelp, Travel Advisor, etc.
- Ensure your online reviews are managed daily
- Ensure you respond to both good and bad reviews
- Assign the right person(s) to respond to reviews
- Create a template for negative responses that allows you to personalize each message and resolve the issues (more on this below)
- Have a same-day response policy to respond to/resolve reviews
2. How do I respond to negative reviews?
Because your response is the foundation of your negative online review policy, a template will help avoid making the matter worse. Your response should follow these steps:
- Look into the issue immediately to see if it is something you can resolve on the spot.
- Start by thanking the customer for their feedback, using their name: Hello Peter, Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback on your experience with Bob’s Fishing Lures.
- Acknowledge the specifics of their complaint via an apology: I am so sorry to hear your order did not arrive on time.
- Make it clear this is not common: We are committed to ensuring each order arrives on time using a top-rated delivery service in your area.
- Explain how you’ve corrected the issue to avoid it happening again: We have reached out to the courier, who has taken steps to avoid this happening again.
- Take the conversation offline: My name is Jill. Please contact me directly by either calling 555-555-5555 or emailing [email protected] so I can resolve the issues to your satisfaction.
Be sure to use a friendly tone and avoid making self-promoting language. You want to come across as concerned and ready to help rather than defensive and smug.
3. Why does Google allow negative reviews?
Google’s goal is to provide the best user experience. To do so, they have to ensure the reviews provided are authentic, trustworthy, and reflect the overall customer experience. Although you might think negative reviews will destroy your online reputation, they are actually expected. Google does not hold a few negative reviews against you and, in fact, looks at the overall number of reviews to help determine your position in the rankings. So, although it is unpleasant seeing bad reviews, sticking to your review management policy will help ensure your reputation remains positive.
4. Why does Google seem to favor negative articles/reviews?
This might seem to be the case, but it is not. As mentioned in question #3, Google always puts user needs first. As a result, the search engines consider all information about a business and will present what it feels is the most honest and important. This usually includes an assortment of articles and information when the intent of the query is less clear. And again, most people understand that it’s impossible to please everyone and so they won’t be too judgmental if they see a bad review or two. Users tend to focus on the star rating and will rarely delve further to read specific comments.
5. How do I remove a negative review?
It depends on the review site or platform. Each review platform has its own user policies. If a review is determined to breach those policies, such as using undesirable language, it is more likely the review will either be weeded out and not posted or be easier to flag as inappropriate by your team. Google is harder to contend with overall as their guidelines are less specific than Yelp as they are all about authentic reviews. They have a flagging system, but if you flag too many reviews, then this becomes problematic. Flagging can push your business profile further down in the search results. Most sites have a route to flag or request a review be removed, so you’ll have to find out how to do this for the site in question.
6. Are online reviews really that important?
Yes. Most people will at least look at the star rating in the Google results before deciding if they want to interact with a business. It’s all about first impressions and appearing trustworthy and credible to potential customers. You yourself most likely do the same thing. It’s only logical you will pick the five-star company over the one with two or three stars. From an SEO standpoint, Google also considers reviews when ranking local businesses. Therefore, you want to have as many reviews as possible, with new reviews popping up often to show you are legitimate and trustworthy.
7. How can I improve my online reputation?
The first and most important thing you can do is to ensure you always put 100% effort into satisfying your customers. The next is always to ask customers for online reviews, whether you send an automated email request with a link to your Google profile, provide a QR code on your receipts, or include a Google review link in your email signature. The last is to monitor review platforms and use your online reputation policy to guide your responses.
The best you can do is to remain responsive to reviews to show your appreciation and commitment to your customers. This helps you control the things you can and reduces the impact of the things you can’t.Do you have more questions about reputation management? We’re happy to chat!.