In the world of business, word of mouth is different than it used to be. Where business cards and coffee shop conversations once ruled the world of reviews, now the internet is the first place most people go to learn about a company before they will even entertain the idea of using its goods or services.
While virtually everyone uses the information Google reviews provide, far fewer people actually leave reviews. In fact, studies have shown that people are twice as likely to leave a review for a negative experience as they are for a positive one.
Think about going out to dinner. If your meal was timely, your drink stayed filled, and the place was clean you will probably pay your tab and leave with just a mental note that the place is good, and you could stop there again. It probably will not cross your mind to leave a review.
Now think about the same dinner if the wait staff was rude, your food was cold, and a bug crawled across your table—people need to know to stay away! You are much more likely to leave a review.
If a negative review is over the top, using foul language, or has clearly unreasonable demands, the consumer is likely to ignore it and move on, but if there is a seemingly reasonable complaint and it is voiced repeatedly… it may have merit.
For the consumer, this just means weighing the voice of Google with a grain of salt. If there are a handful of reviews and only a couple is negative, likely the company is fine, and the person is the problem. However, if there are mostly negative reviews, the consumer will probably scroll to the nearest competitor. The review may have helped them dodge a bullet.
But what if you are the business with a negative review? If you helped one hundred people today and your one problem client is the one that picked up his phone and went to google, that is not a good look at your company. These one-sided evaluations of your business can be harmful to your reputation and can cost you real money. Thankfully, there are ways to remove unfair Google reviews and repair your reputation.
What is a Google Review? Why is it important?
Google does “everywhere” best. That is what it is known for. Google reviews attach to every facet of your business within the search engine. If a client is looking for your address, they will type in your company name and instantly be provided with a snapshot of not only the information for which they were looking but also your star rating and a clip of your reviews that they can click into.
In just a few steps, they are looking at reviews, they may not have ever wanted, and if the snapshot is not good, your relationship may be tainted before it truly starts. The entire Google suite of applications, including Google maps, is embedded to provide your reviews along with your name. Keeping these reviews positive is essential to your business.
How Do I Get Rid of the Negative?
The good news is—you can get rid of unfair reviews on your business. The bad news is that it is not always simple to do so. For the sake of a fair market, Google reviews can not be deleted. The primary way to get rid of an unwanted review is to flag it as inappropriate. The steps to begin this process are:
- Find the review on your company that you would like to be removed
- In the upper righthand corner of the review, click on the three dots
- Click “Flag as Inappropriate”
- Select the reason you want to file your removal under (Fake review, conflict of interest, off-topic, contains spam, etc.)
- Click Submit to Google
The reason for removal will be what decides if it will actually get taken down. There are four main choices you are given for removal, and they are broad so they can be applied in a few ways. First, if the post contains any kind of foul language, hate speech, inappropriate wording, threats, or violence you can have it removed. This choice is cut and dry because the words themselves will prove that the review is inappropriate. Advertising and spam are similarly easy to prove. If your review drags down your company and ends with a call to “CLICK HERE” or a number to a competitor, it is a safe bet that you can have it removed for advertisement.
The last two, conflict of interest and off-topic, are more open to interpretation. Conflict of interest is an option if you suspect the reviewer’s intent has little to do with your service and more to do with doing damage to your company. If you can prove that the review is bogus, it can be removed. Similarly, if the review is clearly negative about a service or good that you do not offer, you may have grounds for removal.
Will All Submissions Get Removed?
Unfortunately for your business, after you hit submit, everything that happens next is in the hands and on the timeline of Google. Google will not remove every review to which you object. They want customers to be informed of negative experiences, so if there is not a legitimate objection in their eyes, the review will stand. Also, it will take time for an objection to process and still more time if they decide to remove it. It is worth the effort but be patient because it could take a while.
Do I Have Other Options?
You always have a few other options as well, and occasionally they may work better than flagging the review. These require a little more leg work on your part but could save your business money in the long run. If customer service is not your best work, give this job to the most personable employee in the office. You will want a customer service genius handling your reviews; they are that important.
Respond to the Review: If there is more to the story, let the people know! You have the ability to respond to the review but do so as if you are speaking to every client you hope to have in the future. Stay professional, own the issue, apologize if a mistake was made. Defend yourself if you feel you have been misrepresented in the review but never attack or belittle the reviewer. Your response could not only save that client but save future clients who will be impressed by how you handled yourself.
Ask the Reviewer to Take it Down: Do not be shy. Reach out to the unhappy reviewer if you feel like you can make them happy. It may be worth offering a discount or perk to them to make up for their experience. Think of this as a restaurant giving you a free appetizer for your trouble. You can apologize in almost every situation, even if it is just apologizing that the person felt that way. If the client is won over by your efforts in either gesture or your response to their review, do not hesitate to reach out and ask them to remove the negative review or update it to a positive review. Many reviewers want action to be taken to remedy what made them unhappy. Some reviewers just want to vent. The ones you can win over are worth the time and effort of dealing with the ones you may never get through to.
Incentivize Good Reviews: You have responded, you have made offers, you have flagged the review, but there it stands. You have done all that you can to have it removed, but it will not go away. That is okay! One bad review will not sink the ship, but it is important that your good reviews make its impact smaller. When you see a client in the office the very first time, make a point to offer an incentive if they leave you a review. Car dealerships employ this technique often, offering a free tank of gas for each review some other incentive. Make sure the client feels appreciated in all that they do, including helping out your rating.
One last thing…
Smooth customer service will save you from the hassle of flagging bad reviews a lot of the time. It is quicker and often more effective to reach out to the source and deal directly with the disgruntled client than wait on Google to take care of it. Make it all business professional and keep a cool head, and you may be able to fix a bad review and save a client all at the same time. In the end, one review is not going to make or break you, but the customer service you provide very well could.