You can’t stop people from leaving negative reviews, but you can handle them in a way that will increase your rating, reinforce your brand, and improve your search engine ranking.
Some reviews that your company or organization receives will have clear benefits. Positive reviews can entice new customers, with one study even claiming that 76% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friend. And some negative-but-constructive reviews can provide valuable feedback. But there’s something to be gained from every review – even the most negative.
If the reviewer had misaligned expectations, it’s a chance for you to reinforce your brand.
For example, say you run a bustling sports bar, and a customer leaves a two-star review saying the atmosphere was too noisy and the food wasn’t gourmet.
You have a few options for how to respond: you could deny it (which would be false), or tell the customer that you hope to never see their stupid face again (which might be true, but is still better left unsaid) – or you could go with it, acknowledging that your place is noisy and un-fancy and saying you’re sorry that wasn’t what they were looking for, but you hope to see them again if they’re ever in the mood for a spirited place to watch a football game and eat some pub grub.
What about those unfair, hate-filled, entirely negative reviews? Yep, even those can still be good for your business. They give you the chance to respond politely and professionally, showing that you’re a polite and professional kind of place (here’s a guide for how to do that).
Google rewards review responses in its search rankings, so the fact that you’re responding at all immediately increases your SEO. Responding can also encourage the reviewer to update their review – or delete it altogether. Plus, one study showed that people spend up to 49% more money at businesses that reply to reviews.
All this comes with one caveat: you have to act quickly.
An unanswered negative review is harmful to your business. It’s only by proactively addressing it that you’ll start to see positive benefits in SEO, customer trust, and brand management.
Incorporate review management into your daily tasks, and make sure you’re always staying updated when new reviews of your locations are being posted. This can be done by checking every location you manage manually, or by using a review management service like Listen & Respond that will notify you when reviews are posted at any of your business or organization’s locations, and let you respond to all your reviews across all your locations from the same interface (or assign a teammate to do so).