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What should you do when you get bad reviews?

You already know how essential an online personality is to your business’ success. Being able to research and find information online is something we all do, whether to find the menu for a new restaurant, or to check out which local dry cleaner will do the best job. All that free information from knowing sources is one of the reasons we love the internet. But what do you do if you find less than positive reviews of your own business? Worse, what if those reviews are not only negative, but contain misleading lies?

bard online reviews

First, try to discern what this person is trying to accomplish by publishing this review. Are they simply disappointed, and trying to honestly describe their experience for the sake of others? Or are they blowing off steam, closer to furious, trying to stick-it-to-ya and take others down with them?

This is an important distinction for you to make.  No matter who you are, there are going to be less than positive reviews, and even slightly negative reviews out there. It’s honest, and frankly useful for customers to see a balanced description of you and your services.  Things start to seem fishy when there are only five out of five stars given. It makes people wonder where all the three and four star givers disappeared to. If the review is less than positive, yet truthful, let it be.

Now, it’s entirely possible that you found a review that was inflammatory, harsh, or contained downright lies about you and your company. You’re likely to be embarrassed at their words, shocked at their rudeness, or mad at them yourself. It’s a rough but real situation.

If this is the case, get the facts straight. Identify if and where you might be at fault. Can you recognize the customer from their review? Go back and review your files on that job or order. Did you actually do (or not do) the things that are mentioned in the review?  Even if you handled the customer well, did one of your employees act in a less reputable manner? Were there miscommunications, or even problems that you may have dismissed?

It’s critical to recognize where you are at fault so that you can adequately apologize and make amends to the customer. You may not gain them back as a loyal customer, but your conscience can be clear, and you will be able to avoid that mistake in the future. Many reviews point out actual problems like workflow issues, contact time lags or pricing hikes. These comments provide valuable feedback about the way your company works and you should recognize that other less-vocal customers may be bothered by the same things. Make it top priority to fix those things and you’ll keep current and future customers.

If the reviewer flat out lied, and you can prove that what they wrote is incorrect, contact the reviewing site and plead your case. Good business practices like keeping excellent records will come in handy here. Go to the review site and explain yourself, show the receipts, original order forms, case files, whatever you have that proves your side. Ask them to remove the faulty reviews, and it’s likely they will.

If the complaint came through an official Business-accreditation company like Better Business Bureau, make timely contact to get the issue resolved. You’ll likely have to do a little jumping through hoops, but go through their resolution or arbitration process and clear your record with them. Many people give real credit to these sites and their stamp of approval, and it will only be to your benefit to make the effort.

If the review is just inflammatory, it will be harder to have it removed. People do have a right to their opinion, which admittedly sometimes hurts small businesses. Make your best effort to contact the reviewer and work things out, eventually encouraging them to amend their original review if they feel you’ve made it up to them.

Finally, make the effort to treat all your customers well, even and especially the ones that are harder to please. They may not recognize how hard you’ve worked, but they will remember being treated with respect and consideration.

Encourage happy customers to relate their experiences online by posting a positive review. Many positive reviews will be to your benefit, and hopefully will outweigh the effect of a few less than positive ones. You may not be able to fix all negative reviews out there, but a few are good for the skeptic in all of us.

What do you do when you get a bad review? How successful have you been in resolving bad reviews? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below!

Don Crowther
 

Don Crowther is a leading marketing, business strategy and online marketing expert. He helps companies ranging from Fortune-500-level giants to entrepreneurs make more money online using proven strategic and marketing techniques.

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