Negative Online Reviews: Do You Need To “Make Them Go Away”?

What’s just like a sock in the old jaw? A bad online review, that’s what! As a business owner, you may have experienced one or two of these. The review may have come from an honest customer who had a bad experience, or from a “quack” who revels in leaving a trail of destruction throughout the web-o-sphere – or worse, from an evil competitor who will stop at nothing to destroy you. Whatever the source, receiving a bad review can hurt your pride, hurt you financially, and your first response is, most probably, “How do I make it go away?”

As many a Web Marketing expert will tell you, “that all depends”. When you discover a bad online review, here are some questions to ask yourself…

First: Does the review seem legitimate, or a just malicious fake?

If this online review is on the level and well-intentioned, your strategy should be based, not on how to delete the review, which is often impossible, but rather, how to communicate with the customer and “make it right.” It will often be the case that you actually know who wrote the review – I advise trying to contact that customer, resolve the issue, offer compensation, such as a discount, and ask him or her to write some positive follow-up at the site of the bad review. (I saw something like that just yesterday.) The idea is show the public that you are responsive, and care about your online reputation. That can actually help your business a whole lot!

Second: Does the review reflect an inherent characteristic of my business, not just a “one-off” comment?

It is difficult to be self-critical, especially when you think you’re perfect, but being able to take objective criticism is crucial for long-term success. So look at negative online reviews as a clarion call to improve the customer experience of your establishment, especially if the same type of complaint shows up more than once.

Third: Is this customer review a malicious fake?

If yes, depending on the website, you may be able to either respond to the review online, or contest the review with the site owner. Again, every website is different, so check the rules and take action.

Finally: Am I doing enough to encourage positive customer reviews and feedback?

Though it may not console you, the best defense against bad reviews is the encouragement of good ones. Our advice is to develop a online reputation management system or protocol that promotes customer feedback and advertises positive reviews – on your website, in search engines, and in social media.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand that you will never please people 100% of the time, no matter how hard you try. Ultimately, negative reviews are just part of doing business. Use negative online reviews as a positive force, and you’ll never wish to make them going away again.

Author: Clifford Yurman

Clifford Yurman is the principal behind Cliff is a creative and business professional skilled across a broad spectrum of communications disciplines including marketing, web design, producing and directing, podcasting, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing and Strategy. He is president of Media Consulting Services. Through MCS, Cliff has provided SEO services to professional practices and small businesses, and written and produced major video and interactive projects for such clients as Pfizer, BASF-Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AIG, KPMG, American Express, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and other global enterprises. Cliff completed an MBA in Finance and Marketing at Columbia Business School in New York where he received the Distinguished Service Award upon graduation. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In his last staff position before starting his own agency, Cliff served as Director, Corporate Development for News America Publishing, Inc. (Rupert Murdoch’s holding company). Reporting to the Vice Chairman, he managed communications and business functions including mergers and acquisitions analysis, industry analysis, and corporate communications. At CBS Corporation, Cliff was Financial Manager for the CBS Television Stations Division and CBS Records Division (now Sony Music); Editor, Standards and Practices for the CBS Television Network; and Writer/Story Editor for WCBS-TV/New York. Cliff began his career in advertising, first as Senior Media Planner at Lintas Advertising for such clients as Citigroup, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Tropicana and Mennen. He later moved to Bates Advertising, serving as Account Executive on the Panasonic Consumer Electronics business. Cliff is a member of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau

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