4 best practice tips to master negative reviews

With ecommerce thriving as record numbers of us head online to purchase everything from groceries and fashion to vehicles and white goods, it’s never been more important to establish and maintain a strong online reputation.

Online reviews are incredibly important and now so more than ever thanks to the increase in online traffic:

• They are vital to the decision making process
• According to the very latest Online Consumer Review research from BrightLocal, the average consumer will read at least 10 reviews before they feel they can trust your brand, so they are critical to generating leads and sales.
• They help you stand out above competitors
• They help your local SEO rankings
• 79% of consumers on average trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – but this percentage goes up to 89% for those aged 35-54

Navigating the review landscape can be hard though. One thing that puts many marketers and business owners off from actively requesting reviews is the fear of a negative review. With the best will in the world, it’s impossible to avoid the odd one or two star review –in fact, consumers are suspicious of a perfect five-star profile so a few negative reviews can actually make your review profile seem more genuine and authentic.

We know no-one likes to get a bad review but this fear shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing a proactive reputation management strategy in 2021 so you can capitalise on the growing online retail sector and higher volume of  online shoppers. To ensure you do just that, the following tips empower you to deal with negative reviews with confidence, removing the fear and freeing you up to make online reviews work for your business over the next 12 months.

  1. 1

    Deal with the review

    Your first tactic to fight bad online reviews and stop them derailing your business is to actually deal with the bad review and then address the root cause to stop it happening again. If the review is in breach of the review site’s code of conduct, you may be able to get it removed. You can also try approaching your customer if the issue has been resolved and ask them to remove or update it.

    If neither of these is an option, acknowledge the review, be apologetic for their experience and offer to make good. Your response should be made swiftly (the speed of response is a local SEO ranking factor), be polite, helpful and apologetic – today, 97% of consumers will read a business’ response to reviews according to the Local Consumer Review Survey findings, so this is another chance to impress and instil trust.

    Once that’s done, look at what caused the negative review in the first place and take measures to fix it. Is it the result of poor customer service for example? More training may be the answer. Is it due to your returns policy? More flexibility may be needed.

    With the review dealt with and the source of the issue identified and changes to processes or policies made as appropriate, you can get on with the following tactics to lessen the impact of the negative reviews and flag up the positive to help you win more customers.

  2. 2

    Adopt a more comprehensive review format

    If you rely on star ratings for your reviews, or only accept reviews on sites that have limited review formats, it may be time to branch out. Adopting a more comprehensive format, which allows for more detailed reviews and individual ratings for different aspects of your service rather than one overall rating is a good way to fight poor reviews.

    If a customer found your shipping to be slow for example, or faced a long wait to speak to a customer service representative, they may be tempted to leave a poor review. With a more comprehensive format, they could give a lower rating for shipping or customer service, but a five star rating for a product they loved.

    Amazon and TripAdvisor’s review systems, which allows consumers to leave a star rating and a comment, are both good examples of a more comprehensive format at work, and can make fighting negative reviews easier by affording a more balanced rating.

    Register for review sites which have a broader format, with the option for the customer to leave a comment and a star rating or rate individual aspects of your service, rather than platforms that use a star rating and thumbs up or thumbs down alone.

  3. 3

    Promote your better reviews on other sites

    Having a poor review against your business name can be worrisome, costly and a source of annoyance. However, if you have better reviews elsewhere, it doesn’t need to be the end of the world – fight the negative reviews by playing up the reviews where you look better.

    If you have poor ratings on one review site and stellar ones on another, you can fight the poor reviews by drawing more attention to better reviews on other sites, highlighting exactly what customers should choose you, and consequently, helping you win more business.

    You’ll need to employ some SEO strategy for this tactic to be successful – such as linking to the better reviews page from your site, directory listings and social media channels.

  4. 4

    Repurpose your great reviews

    Fighting bad reviews can be as simple as playing up your better reviews and painting your company in a more positive light. Make it easier for prospects to find your good reviews and push down the visibility of the less than favourable feedback by repurposing the good across multiple channels.

    You could create images from good review quotes to use on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest for example as part of your social media posts.

    You could also use good reviews to create new website content, such as a ‘what customers are saying’ page.

    They could be repurposed in blogs, relevant snippets used on corresponding product pages or product listings and shared via email to your database. They are also great ways to recognise the work of your team – make sure you share reviews mentioning a colleague by name with that person to acknowledge their wonderful service.

It’s almost inevitable that you’ll receive a poor review at one time or another. However, if you arm yourself with strategies to make the most of your good reviews, understand how to address poor reviews and play to your strengths by maximizing platforms with better feedback, it is possible to lessen their impact and win more business en-route. Don’t let fear hold you back from leveraging online reviews in 2021.

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