Nothing quite irks business owners like an unfounded negative review. They spend countless hours and untold amounts of energy toward building a good reputation for their business, only to have one person come along and spoil it.
This may sound dramatic, but in a world where 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% trust online reviews from complete strangers as much as personal recommendations (the gold-standard of conversion-driving referrals), negative reviews can greatly damage a business’s reputation amongst consumers (The Importance of Online Customer Reviews).
Thankfully, there are strategies that business owners can employ to either mitigate or completely eliminate the impact of negative reviews. But before we get into those strategies, it’s important to first determine–truthfully and honestly–whether or not that irksome negative review is actually unfounded…
Any time a negative review surfaces, especially one that seems especially harsh or unfair, it is natural for a business owner to want to dismiss its credibility. And in some cases, that might be the appropriate response. But those cases are far and few between.
The majority of the time, negative reviews have some truth in them. We may not agree with the severity of their judgement, but it is important to recognize its underlying truth, however small it may be.
By dismissing a fair criticism of your business, you ignore the underlying problem that led to the negative review, and so long as you ignore that, more negative reviews are bound to ensue.
To prevent this spiraling-down of reputation, treat every negative review as if it were true–even if you know deep down inside that it isn’t. Only then can you begin to mitigate or eliminate negative reviews.
With that being said, let’s dive into the strategies…
How to Respond to Well Founded Negative Reviews:
If there is an underlying truth to a negative review, the appropriate response is simple: acknowledge to the consumer that you made a mistake–and don’t try to justify it, either (that only makes it worse)–then try to make it up to them however you see fit.
You can either explicitly ask them to reconsider their review after doing this or simply hope they are a reasonable, decent person and will do so on their own behalf.
If you take the former approach, we recommend waiting a while before you ask the negative reviewer to reconsider; that way, you give them a chance to edit their review without prompt (the ideal situation), and you give them time to cool off.
How to Respond to Unfounded Negative Reviews:
If someone submits a completely unfounded review–either intentionally or innocently–there are a couple of routes you can take:
- Swallow your pride, offer an apology, and ask/hope they reconsider.
- If the review is particularly dishonest, you can report it and it may be taken down.
If none of these strategies work and the negative reviews remain, there is one last option you have at your disposal that has a 100% success rate: diminish the effect of the negative reviews by overwhelming them with positive reviews.
You can’t always control what has happened in the past, but you do have some control over your future. Instead of dwelling on negative reviews, work on accumulating more positive reviews.
At the end of the day, consumers are intelligent. Although 88% base their buying-decision process on the reviews of strangers, they can recognize an unfair review when they see one.
If a business has countless positive reviews and only a handful of bad ones, consumers are more than likely going to give that business the benefit of the doubt.
And when they do, you want to be ready to provide a 5-star worthy product or service.
Contributed by Bryce Ward