How to Avoid Negative Online Reviews

Small businesses live or die by reviews these days and there is controversy across the board about how to get rid of negative reviews or boost positive ones, but one thing is for sure – it’s better if you can avoid them gracing the likes of Google, Facebook and Yelp altogether.

First off and to get this out of the way – the only way to ensure you will never get a negative review against your online business reputation is by not having a Google page, Facebook page, or Yelp page at all. Which is definitely not a smart business growth strategy. 

What are some steps you can take to minimize the number of negative online reviews your business gets on a daily basis.

  1. Ask for feedback right after the service is complete.

Most unhappy customers leave negative reviews because they have tried to be heard about their negative experience and feel like no one is listening. So they take to the internet to grieve publicly and in turn hurt your business. 

If you know a customer is unhappy at the point of service, listen to them and don’t react. Don’t get upset and apologize where appropriate. If you get defensive they know they have a weapon to use – their words online. That will hurt you a lot more than what you are dealing with in the moment. 

Mention you want to do whatever it takes to correct the problem. Don’t mention that you don’t want them to leave a negative review online because that just might put the idea in their head. Just try everything you can to make it right, right then and there.

  1. Send a thank you note/email/text later in the day that you did business with that customer.

Gratitude goes such a long way in developing a relationship with your customer that goes both ways. If your customer didn’t tell you right away that they were unhappy with your service they might be stewing on it for hours afterward. Proactively expressing gratitude for their business and asking them to reach out to you if they have any questions at all or are unhappy with your service sends an invitation for them to vent to you, not to online reviews that can ruin your future business prospects.

  1. If you do get a negative online review, your next move is critical to getting it removed.

Always respond to negative reviews as quickly as possible. These reviews are public and the way that you respond will say so much about how you deal with customers in general, and people will see that. Believe it or not, not everyone believes every negative review posted online. Especially if there are plenty of positive ones that paint a different picture.

When you respond do not get defensive about the negative experience that the customer had with your business. But don’t respond with something canned either because customers seeing your response online will see right through that.

A great response to a negative review is apologetic and actionable, such as “I am SO sorry about your experience with our company. We certainly try to do everything we can to provide excellent service. Please call me directly at 555-555-5555 so I can personally make this right for you.” — (Your Name)

Trust us, if you respond like that in a real and conversational way, people will see it and not only brush aside the negative review and chalk it up to a difficult customer, but they will also appreciate a classy response and give your business a chance they wouldn’t give if they didn’t see your response.

The bottom line is, it isn’t easy to get new customers and in fact it can cost you quite a lot. So don’t let it cost you more by not having a plan in place to avoid negative reviews.

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. If any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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