Online reviews can be an amazing tool to help your small business drum up new customers. The “social proof” that comes from positive reviews gives consumers the confidence to invest in your products or services even if they aren’t familiar with your brand.

But as you may have experienced, bad online reviews can be brutal. Tucked behind the safety of a computer screen, some people can launch diatribes that would make the most seasoned among us blush. If your business is on the receiving end of one of these doozies, it’s good to know how to handle it and come out shining in the end.

Contrary to popular belief, a negative review doesn’t guarantee a negative impact on your business. In fact, if handled correctly, you can use the review to your advantage by showing how professional and customer-focused you are.

So how do you navigate these tricky waters? Here are some tips to help you manage your online reviews without hurting your business.

Dealing with Negative Online Feedback

Keep in mind that how you respond is as much for potential customers as it is for the person you are responding to. Here are some ways you can manage your negative reviews for positive results:

    1. Provide a quick response. We recommend claiming your online profiles with Google Business, Yelp, and other industry-specific review sites so you can be notified when a new review comes through. You should aim to respond to negative reviews within twenty-four hours. Ignoring bad reviews can give the impression that you are either not in touch with your customers, at fault, or don’t care to make things right when there is a customer service issue.


    1. Investigate before responding. If possible, do your research on the customer’s transaction before responding so you can address issues specifically.


    1. Stay Professional no matter what. We have all dealt with customers who are nearly (or literally) impossible to please and not hesitant to share their feelings online, whether fair or not. Negative reviews can be infuriating, especially if they are not altogether truthful or particularly scathing. Regardless, how you handle your response is more important than the bad review. Maintain a polite and helpful tone so those reading your reviews can see that you are willing to make things right with the customer. Cursing at or making derogatory personal remarks towards the customer [however tempting] only reflects poorly on you. Also, in your response to these types of reviews, encourage the customer to give you a call or stop in so you can work with them on resolving the issue. If you are able to resolve the issue, ask the customer to update their review in kind.


    1. Say thank you. Thank online reviewers, good or bad, for bringing valid concerns to your attention and let them know that you genuinely care about what they have to say. Express your willingness to make things right.


    1. Don’t respond to nonsensical or over-the-top reviews. Generally, a fast response is needed to address bad reviews, but sometimes this isn’t necessary. If someone is trolling your brand and leaving comments that don’t make sense or clearly have nothing to do with your business, ignore them. People who are checking out your reviews will be able to sift out legitimate ones from the fake or absurd ones.


    1. Encourage happy customers to provide reviews. A great way to counteract a couple bad reviews is with a flood of 5-star reviews! Don’t hesitate to ask all of your satisfied customers to leave online reviews.


    1. Use constructive feedback to improve your business. Sometimes negative reviews will be flat-out wrong. Other times there’s some truth to what’s being said. Use constructive criticism to fine-tune your services, products, and processes to become even better than you already are!


  1. Request that deceptive or fake reviews be removed from the online platform. Occasionally you will receive a review from someone who is clearly not a customer. It could be a competitor, a disgruntled former employee, someone paid to give you a bad review, etc. If this happens, contact the review site directly and follow the process they have in place to get the review removed. This is another reason why it’s important to claim your business on review sites. Note: Most online review sites will not remove a negative review unless it meets their spam/inappropriate review guidelines.

How Can I Get a Fake Review Removed?

As mentioned above, it’s important to get fake or misleading reviews removed whenever possible. To expedite the process, be sure you’ve claimed your business listings.

Click on the links below to help you dispute a fake review on popular review sites:

Concluding Thoughts

In the end, online reviews can become a major boost for your small business. Even when you do receive bad reviews, the way that you handle them can end up working to your benefit. By following the tips above, you can showcase your exceptional customer service skills and resolve conflicts in a productive way.

OpenVine does not work on behalf of clients to settle online review disputes. However, if you need help with an overall online marketing strategy, we’re here to help! Contact us today or get a free quote to find out how we can increase your online visibility and attract more customers.

Get our monthly emails for website and digital marketing tips and tricks!