The Blog: What To Do with Bad Customer Reviews

Customer Reviews Enhance or Endanger Your Business 

We all do it - “Let’s not go there, they only have a 2.8 on Google”. Consumers of all kinds of goods and services use reviews to make their minds up - think of the popularity of TripAdvisor and Amazon in recent years.

It is always important to get customers to leave reviews to help boost your ranking profile, but what do you do when a disgruntled customer decides to leave a poor one? How do you deal with your first one star dragging your average down? First and foremost, stay calm, keep your business head on and try to see it as an opportunity to engage and improve, rather than damage to hide from. 

Find The Root of The Online Review Problem

First things first, and perhaps it goes without saying, but in order to get the best reviews possible, your focus should be on ensuring your business provides the best service, products and interaction possible. Happy customers equal great reviews, but unfortunately you simply cannot please everyone all the time, and it is almost inevitable that one day the dreaded one-star rating will roll in.

Make Sure The Online Review Is Real!

When a poor review hits, the first thing you might do is question it. Whilst this is important to do in order to verify the authenticity of the complaint, there is no point trying to deny something that a customer is adamant happened. Perhaps they have a different perspective than you, or don’t have the information that a delivery was late or a member of staff took sick. 

Take a moment to try to recount the details of their complaint, considering it from their perspective. If you detect unusual behaviour, or suspect a review or series of reviews may be false, there is a procedure put in place by Google to help you combat and remove those fake claims. 

If the review contains abusive or offensive terms it will be removed without question, if it is simply negative then you will have to prove that the author was indeed NOT your customer, then it is up to Google how things will proceed.

Plan Your Review Responses

If the review is genuine, the next thing to do is respond, something we will look at in more detail in the next paragraph. To be able to respond to Google reviews, you need to have first claimed your business listing, and have been verified as the owner. If you haven’t already done so, you can do this with the help of rankingCoach and rankingCoach 360, where Local SEO tasks will guide you through the process of taking care of your online business, and even allow you to respond to reviews directly from within the platform. 

Stay Professional, Don't Get into A Public Argument! 

There is nothing more off-putting or embarrassing than a public rant between an aggrieved customer and an indignant business owner. Bear in mind that many people will read the bad reviews before good ones, so this is your opportunity to rectify the damage.  In fact, some studies have revealed that as many as 82% of shoppers actually search out negative reviews, which means they are also seeking out the management response. 

It is important that you acknowledge the customer’s point, apologise where necessary and explain the situation, and make clear that this is not a service norm for your business. 

Ask Your Customers to Get Involved with Online Reviews!

Inviting a customer back sends a strong message of openness and transparency, and really hammers home your commitment to improving their experience in future. Do not allow yourself to be pulled into too many specifics, or become stuck in a ‘he said, she said’ situation, and if you feel yourself becoming heated when responding, take a break and talk the situation over with some impartial friends or colleagues. 

It is your business and you have a right to be passionate about it, but how you handle bad reviews paints a picture of your management and ethos that will speak louder than any logo or tagline.

Find A Solution to The Bad Review

Finding a resolution is the ultimate goal of good reputation management. If you can find a solution that prevents a repetition of complaints, and persuades the reviewer to visit again so that you can prove to them that you have improved, you may be able to proceed to the ultimate in bad review responding - asking the reviewer to change their review. 

This can be a big ask, at the end of the day someone felt strongly enough to go online and take time out of their day to voice their complaint, so you will need to have handled things diplomatically and professionally in order to convince them to go back online and change it. However, if you are committed to making the change, and follow the steps outlined earlier, you stand the best chance of making the customer see that you are a genuine and honest business owner, who is doing their best to build a reputable business online.

Turning Negativity into Opportunity

So when your heart sinks at that first poor review alert, or if you are stuck in a rut of mediocre feedback, try not to despair. The important thing is that your customers are interacting, and any form of interaction is an opportunity for you to market your customer service skills on a public platform. 

The best performing review score on Google averages at 4.2 - above this sales tend to taper off, as there is an illusion that 5 stars is “too good to be true”. So whilst a bad review may seem devastating, bear in mind that it is also adding a silver lining of authenticity to your listing. Take a moment to stay calm, consider the perspective of the customer and remember to always be professional, courteous and constructive. 

Do you want to manage your reviews quickly and effectively online?

Upgrade to rankingCoach 360 and start building trust online today. rankingCoach users can upgrade from the dashboard of rankingCoach when logged in. If you would like to upgrade but the 360 upgrade is not available in your version, or you want to sign up for the first time, contact customer service to check availability. 

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