Every business thrives on interpretation. Companies with positive reputations get lots of business, retain customers for years on end, and enjoy other benefits. However, businesses with negative reputations – earned or otherwise – have a hard time surviving, let alone thriving, in the competitive marketplace.
So it’s no surprise that many business owners panic when they see negative reviews on their Google business pages. Today, let’s explore how you can handle negative Google reviews tactfully and gracefully no matter what.
The Absolute Importance of Google Reviews
Unlike other kinds of reviews, Google Reviews show up "above the fold" in a web search. That means that someone inquiring about your business sees Google Reviews without having the scroll at all. This makes them highly visible, more visible than other types of reviews most of the time.
Google reviews are of crucial importance to your business regardless of your industry. That’s because modern consumers are more likely to search for business reviews before patronizing a new company. Furthermore, research shows that three out of four consumers are more likely to trust a business if it already has pre-existing positive reviews.
In other words, the more positive reviews you can cultivate for your business, the more likely you are to get increased traffic and increased profits as a result. However, there’s a dark side to the importance of Google reviews in this day and age.
How Negative Reviews Can Damage Your Business
Just like a positive review can be a major boon to your business, so can a negative review be majorly damaging. Negative reviews can:
- Make it difficult to get new business
- Lead current customers to your competitors
- Lower your company’s rankings with Google’s search engine algorithms
It’s no stretch to say that a single negative review can be damaging enough to offset five or more positive reviews. Because of this fact, many business owners operate in constant fear of negative reviews cropping up on Google.
What To Do About Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are quite serious and should be monitored 24/7. Fortunately, you don’t have to sit by and let negative testimonials pile up. Depending on the nature of the review, you might be able to take some action.
Ask the Customer To Delete It
Firstly, you can send a message to the reviewer and ask them to delete their review. Note that this only works if the reviewer is not anonymous – that is, they have to have a registered Google account. Since most Google reviewers have a registered account these days, getting in contact with people shouldn’t be difficult.
For the best results, offer a heartfelt and honest apology to the person who wrote the negative review (provided they have a legitimate grievance, that is). You can also sweeten the deal by offering them a discount or refund, depending on the review’s context and details.
Use your best judgment as a business leader when asking customers to delete negative reviews. The last thing you want is for them to edit their review and exploit the fact that you contacted them. If a customer doesn’t want to play ball or is unnecessarily aggressive, move on to one of the other strategies.
Apologize to the Customer Below the Review
Google allows business owners to respond to all reviews, so if a customer doesn’t respond positively to private messages, write a public and heartfelt apology below their review.
You can and should use this tool frequently to show other customers and reviewers that you:
- Take negative feedback seriously
- Are an honest and forthright business owner
- Always work to improve your business operations
Plus, apologizing to the customer below the review puts you firmly on the polite side of the conversation. Customers are more likely to respect business owners who apologize and take responsibility for mistakes than those who neglect responsibility.
Of course, if a review is blatantly false or filled with untrue information, you should also write a few paragraphs clearing things up and explaining what happened. Whenever a customer reads a negative review, they’re usually more than happy to read a company’s response for context.
In many cases, writing a follow-up response is the best way to clear the air and neutralize the effect a negative review can have on your brand’s reputation.
Flag the Review as Inappropriate/Fraudulent
Sometimes, trolls on the Internet post false or fraudulent reviews. They might dislike your business because of your politics, location, or simply because of what you sell. Whatever the reason, Google does have tools you can use to remove untrue or inappropriate reviews, such as those with a lot of swearing.
To do this, flag the review as “inappropriate” using the Google Maps interface. The review won’t get deleted right away, but a Google team member should get back to you with a reply asking for additional details. The search giant will then take some time to go through your removal request. If needed, you can visit the “Support” section for a follow-up if you haven’t had a response in a couple of weeks.
Alternatively, fill out this form to file a legal complaint. This should only be leveraged if the review is deliberately harmful and its purpose is to damage you personally (i.e., if the reviewer is committing libel or slander).
Promote Positive Reviews on Your Business Site
You can also neutralize the effect of negative reviews by promoting or pushing positive reviews on your business website, possibly through a testimonials page. Then, if visitors reach your company’s website first, they’ll see all the positive reviews left by satisfied customers before noticing any potentially negative reviews buried underneath.
Ultimately, every business owner needs to know how to handle negative reviews from their Google My Business page. Navigating the complexities of customer management and reputation is a part of business operations and one you’ll need to become more skilled in as your company grows and your brand becomes more popular.
Use the above techniques to neutralize negative reviews, and your reputation will shine, even if the occasional disgruntled customer becomes a keyword warrior on Google