Online reviews these days, has a great impact to determine how many new customers you’ll acquire. People are smarter these days and they don’t buy a thing online or contact a business they found online without having a little peek on that company.
That’s why monitoring your incoming reviews and dealing with them is a major concern for any business that wants to have a good reputation and growth online.
Now, if the review is positive, you have nothing to do without feeling satisfaction of satisfying your customer.
The problem occurs when you get hit with a bad review.
Even worse, a fake negative review that literally bashes you coming from maybe a competitor (in disguise) or any hater (haters will hate anyway), and there’s some case when such review comes from bad employees that you’ve fired (what could be worse?).
I feel you, receiving a fake review to your hard-established business can be really frustrating. Everyone feels bad when he’s accused of something he didn’t do.
And in today’s internet scenario, it’s a piece of cake to open a fake account and bash anyone with a fake review without getting caught.
That’s why people are doing this without being afraid of any legal action and they’ve become a growing problem for small business owners.
Now, if I keep fake reviews aside, there some authentic negative reviews that you’ll be facing too. Look, no business is 100 percent perfect and there’ll be mistakes.
Even if there’s not, accept that you can’t satisfy every customer.
So you’ll be getting negative reviews and that’s okay. You just need to know how to handle them well so that any potential customer overwatching everything later doesn’t make an immediate bad impression on you.
This article focuses on teaching you how to deal with negative reviews and how to get rid of the fake ones.
Here it goes.
Table of Contents
Handling Negative Reviews
Before getting into how to respond best to negative reviews, I want to tell you that negative reviews are kind of favors to you from your dissatisfied customers.
A statistics show that less than 5% of dissatisfied customers ever take time to mention the issues that made them unhappy, most of them simply disappear.
Since this 5 % is letting you know your faults, they’re giving you the chance to improve and not dissatisfy many other customers that’ll simply disappear.
So it’s not that of a negative thing, right? Anyways, let’s dig into how you should respond to these 5 percent’s words.
Know Google’s Policy and Plan Your Response
Know what Google says about posting a review on a business or any place on maps.
Here’s the link for you to know more: https://support.google.com/contributionpolicy/answer/7400114?hl=en&ref_topic=7422769
Knowing about Google’s policy is important because you as a business owner need to know what rights a customer hold regarding reviewing your business.
If you’ve gone through the policies, now let’s talk about what you should not do when handling a negative review on your business.
First off, you MUST NOT react emotionally. Just remember that anything you say will have a long-lasting effect on your business as your words stay there for eternity and anyone checking out your business will see them.
Second, you need to respond as early as possible, not hoping it to get away. Responding fast proves it to other potential customers that you care about customer’s feedback with your product or service.
Third, your tone of writing needs to be highly professional. Word choice will play a very important role here. Think twice before writing a sentence, try to figure out if you can express your this feeling in a better way with better words or not.
If you’ve understood the best possible timing and tone of your responses, let’s see how to conduct a response.
Ask for Info, Judge the Authenticity of the Review
The first step to replying to a review is understanding the review. In many cases, customers leave short negative reviews with 1 or 2 stars that don’t explain much.
In some cases, you can’t even understand if they’ve taken your service or purchased your product.
In such cases, ask questions to them so you can justify that they’ve actually taken your service or purchased your product.
Also don’t shy away to ask what particular aspect they didn’t like about your product or service.
For example, often customers leave reviews like –
“The service was not up to the mark, not recommended”
Your first reply to this should be something like this –
Sorry that you had a bad experience with us. We take customer satisfaction seriously so we’d like to know what particular things that you didn’t like about our service. Was it our food? Or the service? (for restaurants).
Also, could we have a picture of the receipt that we provided you to further look into your case?
This reply does the exact two things that I told above. It very politely asks what are the exact issues that he faced, and also ask for justification of his taking your service in the name of looking further into the case.
If the Review Seems Fake….
In many cases, this happens. Your competitor, the unproductive employee that you fired, or anyone that hates you personally can try to sabotage your business by leaving fake reviews.
In such cases, they won’t be able to show proof that they’ve taken your service or purchased your product. Maybe they won’t be able to show the receipt or any paper like that.
Now, here’s a catch. In almost all the occasions the fake reviewer will tell you that they’ve lost the receipt.
In such cases, you may ask for any other information regarding the service they claim to receive, like the table they sat into in case of a restaurant, and such info that justifies that they actually were your customer.
If they fail to provide any such information, it’s highly likely that he/she is trying to defame you with a fake review. Now do not already lash onto them, rather state things directly and professionally. Like –
We’d love to take a look into your case to find out what went wrong, but unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. That’s because you failed to provide enough information that justifies we actually served you, or not enough information to identify your case, even if you took our service.
We often face fake reviews from our competitors that try to sabotage our business, so before we take any review to concern, we need to identify that the review is coming from our real customer, that’s why we have to do the verification.
I hope you understand.
Have a good day”
And don’t stop only there. Flag the fake reviews so that Google’s small business team can take a look at it. I’ll tell you how to flag fake reviews in a bit.
If the Review Seems Authentic…
Well, it proves that something actually went wrong with your customer. In such case, you first need to identify their case which you can easily do with their receipt. Or if he’d lost it, from other information he provides.
Then look deep into the case and judge from a natural viewpoint. What went wrong, and most importantly, why? Whose fault it was? Any of your employee’s or the customers?
If it’s customer’s fault (or none of your fault)
In many cases, customer themselves do the mistake without knowing your policy and then blame you. In such cases, you need to have the balls to state it to them. Be like –
Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us and provide us with the information. We looked into the case in details and these are the possible reasons that we thought created the issues.
According to our business policy, we from our side didn’t have to do anything with these problems.
[attachment of the policy].
We’re still sorry for the inconvenience you faced. But we expect you to understand we had nothing better to do in the case.
Thanks for understanding. Have a good day”
That’s how you can design your replies in these cases. This may vary from business to business though, so customize it according to your business and circumstances.
Unfortunately, if it’s your bad…
No business is perfect so there’ll be some bad days or bad instances. If it was your bad day and the fault was committed from your side, then you’ve got to take measures to compensate that.
The first step is acknowledging your mistake and apologizing. Along with that, you may offer some compensation to them. That can be refunding a portion or offering them a discount on their next purchase.
I know what you’re thinking, will they purchase again from you?
They will if you can convince them in that way through your text. Offering the discount seems to be the better option for me too, but you’ll need good convincing words then, which can be something like this –
We looked into your case in detail and we’re very ashamed to tell you that it was out fault behind what happened. We’re extremely sorry.
No business is perfect and that was our bad day. So I hope you understand and accept our apology.
Along with apologizing, we’re taking measure to resolve the issue, and we also want to offer you little compensations.
We’d like to refund you 30 percent (for example) of your payment for the service or we’d like to give you a 40% discount on your next order with us.
We request you to give us another try with the discount to check out our resolvance of the issue.
Thank you. Have a good day”
This text will be good enough to convince him/her to give you another try to enjoy the discount and see how well you’ve resolved the issue.
And if he/she’s convinced to give you another try and you can satisfy him/her this time, congrats you just got a loyal customer that’ll tell people how seriously you took them and solved his/her issue. He/she’ll get more customers for you now.
Don’t Only Say, Take Measures
Taking necessary measures to resolve the customer’s issue and making sure it does not happen again is as important (if not more) as convincing them through their words.
If they complained your AC couldn’t cool them enough, fix the AC. If they had complained about any particular item on your menu, see what you can do about it. Talk to the chief, see what are the fix for it.
If the service was bad or any employee of yours did not behave right with them, talk with that employee and strictly warn them to maintain professionalism. If there were anything offensive in the decoration, consider redecorating it (if many had same complain).
I took a restaurant as an example and tried to guess what possibly can go wrong. Since I don’t know what your business is, so I can’t possibly guess all the things that can go wrong and fixes to them.
But whatever the issue is, take necessary measures to solve it and make sure it does not happen in future.
Might Show Them That You Actually Took Measures…
If this does not sound too fancy, consider doing it if possible.
Showing them that you did something about their issue gains more credibility than just telling them. How to show them?
Click a picture of your AC being repaired, or the redesigned decoration and post it to that thread. Make an apology video with the employee that didn’t serve them well and post it there. If there’s any other way to prove things, do it.
As I said before, this can seem too fancy to many, but I disagree. Why? Because this helps you to stand out of the crowd.
If you look into google maps then you’ll see most of the businesses don’t even reply to customer’s complaints and those who do, argues or just end up apologizing.
You’ll barely see any business that does all that takes things seriously and does something about it, and update the customer.
In such a scenario, if you go this far that you’re even showing them what you did because of their complaint, doesn’t it help you to stand out of the crowd?
A potential customer that’s looking for a restaurant in a new area and sees such responsiveness of yours, are highly likely to visit you over your competitors, even if they’re better than you in some aspect.
And you if see it, it’s not that fancy as well. It does not take decades to click a picture or shoot a 2-minute video and posting it. So whenever you have the chance to show them your concern with their complaints, show them.
Creative Idea: Shoot Videos instead of Writing!
Not any separate video, just say your words instead of typing, the words that I stated above as examples. I mean, give all your replies through videos, not with texts.
Though you need to make yourself comfortable in front of the camera before you consider doing this.
I got this idea from a chief on “Yelp”. He used to reply to all the reviews that he got through short videos. Though it was nothing really special, all he did is saying the same words instead of typing, still, he was able to engage reviewers a lot more.
Another reason I think, why he used to do it is, it saved him time. It takes less time for someone who’s decently comfortable in front of the camera to say 250 words than typing.
I think he had dedicated half or an hour of his time everyday to reply to reviews and to cover all the reviews within this time period, he followed this way.
So it seems that short videos are both time-saving and effective, so why not give it a try?
How to Deal With Fake Reviews and How to Remove Google Negative Review?
Okay, so when we were in the step to judge the authenticity of a review, and found that it was real, we took our steps.
Now it’s time to deal with the fraudsters that are trying to harm your precious business.
Well, honestly and sadly, we’ve nothing much to do to them without reporting (flagging) their review.
I know you want to beat the sh*t out of him, but unfortunately, that’s not possible. (unless you can find that prick in person and you’re a gym guy who is great at beating as*es)
Okay well, let’s do whatever we can. This is how you flag a review, step-by-step…
- To flag a review, First, you’ve to log into your GMB account.
- Click on “Display all your business reviews” which you’ll find on the left side of the dashboard.
- Find that review that you want to report.
- Here we found that particular review. You’ll find three dots towards the right side, click those.
- Click “flag as inappropriate.”
You’ve done what you could do from your side. Now it’s up to google small business team to decide whether the review should or should not be there.
You can, however, go a bit further and notify them over the phone. Google has a support contact number to let businesses to contact them. You’ll find it in your Google My Business account’s dashboard, on the left side labeled as “support.” Click that.
You can also report reviews that slander your business through legal means here.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that Google must remove the review as early as possible, or ever, doesn’t matter how many ways you follow to reach them.
I have no more secrets to tell you. By this time you know how to face the unexpected reviews – properly handle the negative ones and slap the fake ones on its face.
Now log into your dashboard and see how many reviews you’ve pending that you can deal with the knowledge you’ve just gathered. Apply what you’ve learned.