What to Do About A Bad Google Review

Research suggests three out of four customers will look at reviews before buying online. 92% of consumers report trusting recommendations from friends and family above all types of advertising and 72% report trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. In the digital era your online reviews are gold!

However, what do you do when someone posts a negative review?

A bad review might make your blood boil and your first instinct might be to try and have it deleted.  This might not be the right move because every client interaction offers an opportunity and even a bad review comes with a silver lining.

You obviously can’t expect to please all of the people, all of the time. Dissatisfied customers are part of running a business and by embracing the authenticity, it proves your reviews are not all being posted by your friends and relatives. Businesses removing negative reviews are denying their customers the opportunity to provide honest feedback on their experiences.

Say That to My Face

In today’s online environment, customers are more inclined to post feedback online than to discuss it face to face. This means reviews are somewhat out of context and sometimes they can just be downright rude or undeserved. Even so, deleting them may not be your best course of action (unless they are violent, discriminatory or inflammatory). Consider a negative review as an opportunity to investigate why the customer has left that comment and try to speak to them regarding the circumstances around their review.

Sensis’ data shows that 80 per cent of customers will change their online review when a business gets in touch to try and resolve the issue. Often by reaching out to the reviewer and offering potential solutions or some form of redress will be enough for them to change their review. As with all reviews (positive and negative), you should respond promptly.

The first step is apologising, even if you don’t think it’s necessary. Potential customers will always side with other customers, not the business, so arguing the point or telling your side of the story will not improve the ‘look’. A genuine, human response demonstrates positivity and transparency. Offering to fix the problem, refund or replace an item may not achieve the review being reversed but it creates a record of you displaying great customer service, reassuring Joe Public that you listen to your customers.

Removal is the Last (And Not Always Successful) Resort, Even for Fake Reviews

Sometimes you will just not make any headway with your bad reviewer and if their review is abusive, untruthful, false or misleading you can take steps to have it removed, especially if you can prove they have never been a customer or they are from a competitor.

Getting a Google Review deleted is not straightforward. The review has to fall within Google’s Prohibited and Restricted Content policy (i.e. spam or fake, off-topic, restricted, illegal, sexually explicit, offensive, dangerous, derogatory, impersonation, terrorist or conflict of interest content). If the review falls into one of these categories, you can take the following steps: -

  1.  Sign into your Google My Business account.
  2. Choose your business location and click ‘Reviews’ from the menu.
  3. Find the review you’d like to flag, click the 3-dot menu, then click ‘Flag as inappropriate’.

Then it’s up to Google whether they agree to remove the review or not.

Apart from flagging the review using your Google My Business dashboard, you can also expedite the process of deleting a Google review by requesting call back, requesting chat or emailing support. Here’s how:

  • On Google My Business, click Menu, scroll down and look for Support.
  • A pop-up will appear, look for Contact Us, and click Need More Help.
  • Choose Customer Reviews and Photos > Manage Customer Reviews.
  • Choose from any of the three contact options: request call back, request chat or email support.

In the meantime, as mentioned above, respond to the fake review. In this case, your response obviously won’t actually solve a problem if indeed, it is a fake review, but your response shows other potential customers how you handle criticism. The point to make is that your response to negative customer feedback can have a greater impact on your business reputation than the original negative review. Take a deep breath, sleep on it if you need to, and compose a professional response, something along these lines: -

“Hi, (Reviewer’s Name), here at (business name) we take these matters very seriously. Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify any customer experiences described in this review, nor are we able to find your name in our records. We would like to investigate this issue further – please assist us by contacting (Team Member’s Name) at (Email Address) so that we can resolve this issue immediately.”

The ACCC has further information regarding managing online reviews (including previous actions they have taken where businesses have created false positive customer reviews or offered incentives for positive reviews, but that’s a whole  other story).

The Best Defence is a Good Offence

Lastly, the best defence is a great offence. Develop a review generation strategy such as routinely requesting feedback from your clients. Tools are available online such as Whitespark’s Review Handout Generator Page which can be customised and provides instructions for your customers on how to leave reviews for your business on Google.

You can also generate a Google review link by signing into your Google My Business page. Search for your business in Google and click on Reviews, then 'Write a Review'. Copy the long URL from the top of the browser (you can use an online tool to shorten this, such as Tiny URL, etc.) then share this with your customers.

The more positive reviews your business receives the more they will drown out the negative reviews, as well as pushing your Google ranking up.

This article forms part of our Business Accelerator Magazine. Download the latest edition HERE or browse other articles from this edition below: