If you get a bad online review, your first response may be to get it removed. After all, you’ve worked hard to build your business. Now, a customer has told the world that they’re unhappy with something. But, is removing bad online reviews the answer? Is there another way to deal with the negative Google reviews so that you can strengthen your brand?
Of course, it’s hard not to take a bad online review personally—after all, it is your product or service that’s made someone unhappy. Once you have overcome the initial anger, upset, frustrations, or embarrassment, it’s time to get back to your online review management and control the situation.
Before we debate whether it is a good idea to remove bad online reviews, let’s look at what bad reviews really are.
What are Bad Online Reviews?
Bad online reviews are usually the 1- or 2-star ratings and reviews that every business owner dreads. The people who have left these reviews can be mildly unsatisfied with the product or service or furious. Sometimes, they are right. On other occasions, they have misused a product, not read the description correctly, or don’t know how to use the product. Either way, this negative feedback can damage your online reputation.
Then, you might have to deal with 3-star reviews. These aren’t necessarily bad but offer some useful insight into how you could make improvements. There may be a mix of negative and positive comments. Despite the positive comments, 3-star ratings are still bad for you. This is because the majority of online purchases have a 4-star rating or above. 3-star reviews can bring your average ratings down.
Finally, there are fake reviews. Fake reviews can be completely irrelevant to your product, contain inappropriate comments, or be made up lies by people or competitors who want to sabotage your online review ratings. Thankfully, online review platforms have stringent policies on fake reviews, and it is vital you always flag fake Google reviews. Not only this, but consumers are now better at spotting them. Still, fake reviews hurt your online brand reputation.
How to Get Bad Online Reviews Removed
The first thing to consider is whether the review meets the review website’s terms and conditions. Google, for example, has an extensive list of what violates their review policy. Violations include impersonating a buyer, promoting illegal goods, offensive language, and biased reviews.
If there is no genuine reason for the review to be inappropriate, there is little point in flagging it. When the bad review is because mistakes were made, you can’t remove it. It goes against the idea of consumers being able to read honest feedback. There is no guarantee any review site will take down a bad review, so use your time wisely.
When you are sure that the review is fake or goes against the terms and conditions, you can report it.
Here is how to flag fake reviews:
- Google—Find your business on Google Maps and click on the review page. Then locate the review you wish to flag. There are three vertical dots to the right of the review, click on this and select ‘Flag as inappropriate.’ Once you have included your email address, type of violation, and submitted your request, you will have to explain why the review is inappropriate.
- Yelp—You can either open your business page or user profile to find your reviews. From the business page, hover over the review, and the option will appear to Report Review. From the user profile, you will see the flag icon to click and then Report Review.
Is it a Good Idea to Remove Bad Online Reviews?
You must remove fake reviews on Google. However, only Google can take down malicious reviews—so you have to contact them. Fake reviews are not fair to your business or customers as they don’t get real feedback about your company. However, review sites may take a while to take down a fake review—so you still have to respond to them.
For other negative reviews, it is better not to remove them, and here is why:
- Learn about your business—Without negative reviews, consumers struggle to trust a business. A company can’t please absolutely every customer. Readers need to see some negative reviews. These show they can trust that you are a real company and don’t just buy positive reviews.
- Get insights into your business—You can learn what is being said about your brand. You need to know the truth about what people think of your products. It gives you a chance to make the necessary improvements which will lead to higher sales.
- Improve customer service—Responding to negative reviews shows that you care. Customers take time to leave their feedback. It’s only right that you offer the same courtesy. How you respond to bad online reviews lets potential customers know that you take customer opinions seriously and prove your dedication to excellent customer experience.
- Improve your business—Negative reviews are opportunities to turn unsatisfied customers into happy, loyal ones. Consider your bad reviews as an olive branch, a way for you to make peace with your customers. By making the wrong a right, customers appreciate the effort you make and are more likely to return.
How to Turn Bad Online Reviews into Positive Ones
Once you have calmed down and thought about the customer’s feedback, you can put your excellent customer service into practice. In each step of your response, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what you would like to hear.
Here is how to deal with bad online reviews:
- Always thank the person for their feedback—As we mentioned before, negative reviews can be a valuable tool for your business, and your customers should know this.
- Take responsibility for the mistake—Blaming other people or other departments will not earn you any respect. Even if it was the delivery company’s fault, you are responsible for your choice in delivery companies as the business owner.
- Say sorry and make your apology sincere—This might be hard when the customer has misunderstood something. However, you can still apologize for the lack of clarity. Saying sorry can calm an angry customer.
- Offer solutions—If you have read the review entirely, you might find the customer has offered a solution, and you can follow up on this. If not, provide a solution to make them happy.
- Communicate with the customer—Provide methods of contact that take the conversation offline. Not every response is going to satisfy the customer, and they may come back with more negativity. By offering a phone number or email address, you can handle the situation privately.
- Follow up—Follow up with an email, text, or phone call to make sure the problem has been resolved. You can take this opportunity to see if customers are willing to change their review, turning a bad review into a positive one.
- Write short responses—Your responses don’t need to be lengthy. In fact, it is better to keep it short and to the point. Also, make sure you make it personal by including names.
Finally, if you want to turn bad reviews into positive ones, you must act on the feedback. When readers see the same complaints over a length of time, it is apparent that you aren’t taking on board what people are saying about your brand. You might need to make changes to the product or provide extra staff training, but the improvements have to be made.
How to Hide Bad Online Reviews
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to hide bad online reviews. There isn’t a simple ‘Hide Review’ button that controls who can see your bad feedback. You can focus on getting more positive reviews so that the bad ones are hidden or buried among the good.
To get more positive reviews, you need to ensure that you deserve them. So, take some time to review the quality of your products and the service you provide. One of the simplest ways to get more positive reviews is to ask people. Send out follow-up emails, messages, or thank you notes with a link to your review site. Remind customers how much reviews mean to you.
By using online review management apps, you will have far more control over your reviews and be able to handle the good and the bad in a way that encourages other people to leave their reviews.
Starloop can help you get more positive online reviews. Starloop members have seen that our review management solution helps increase the number of reviews they receive—almost instantly.
Please contact Starloop today to find out how your business can benefit from getting more reviews.