Negative online reviews can have an impact on your business. The increased popularity of social media and review websites means businesses need to be more aware than ever of what customers are saying about them online.
Fortunately, like complaints made in person, negative online reviews don’t have to result in lost business. Instead, turn them into an opportunity to attract more customers.
Tips to deal with negative online reviews
The online world operates 24/7 and people expect a quick response. It is important to deal with negative reviews promptly before they escalate and more potential customers read the review.
Be polite and professional
Don’t personally react to a negative review. Respond in a polite, professional manner and don’t blame other people for the problem or create excuses.
Take the issue off-line
After acknowledging the problem, offer to handle the matter off-line, out of public view. Provide your email or contact details so you can discuss and resolve the matter.
Once you have been able to resolve the issue, you can then post a public comment on the review website outlining the agreed outcome.
Request that fake or misleading reviews be removed
If you know that reviews are fake or misleading they must be removed. Examples of misleading reviews could include those written by:
- friends or family without disclosing your personal relationship
- a competitor
- someone paid to write the review who has not used your product or service
- a member of your staff
Businesses and review platforms that do not remove reviews they know to be fake risk breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
This is not the same as asking for negative reviews to be removed (or removing them from your own website or Facebook page). Social media is about developing relationships, even though they may not always be positive.
Encourage your customers to write a review
You can encourage customers who are happy with your product or service to write a review. Be careful not to influence them by asking that they leave only positive reviews.
Better manage online customer reviews by:
- understanding how review sites work
- registering with Google Alerts to track mentions of your business
- registering with review sites, especially any specialist sites for your industry, so you can be alerted when someone posts a review
- letting customers know you are listed on review sites and providing them with details on how they can post a review
- sharing the reviews with your staff
- Download Online reviews – a guide for business and review platforms published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).