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What to do when you get a bad Google review.
Today everyone is a critic, yet without responsibility. There’s no vetting system or board of ethics that determines the validity of a review. Anyone with access to an email address or social media account can publish a review, regardless of whether the experience they are recounting is real or not. When the review is positive, we take pleasure and pride in our service and don’t think twice about questioning it; but when the feedback is negative, we often go into panic mode or, in some cases, denial. Maybe the negative review your restaurant received was warranted, or maybe the patron was the problem and left a review in retaliation. Regardless, the review is live and it’s there for all to see. So, for those who have moved past the stage of denial and are ready to act, here’s what you can do.
Do not argue with someone who left you a bad review, do not lash out, and do not challenge their complaint. Remember that this conversation is now public, and anyone who looks at your reviews will see your response to negative feedback and evaluate you based on how you handle yourself in these situations. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to customer service.
Acknowledge the complaint and apologize within 24 hours.
Address the reviewer with a brief response and apologize for the situation, even it if wasn’t your fault. Let them know you are looking into the situation and will return to address the issue shortly.
Evaluate the situation.
Check your records, talk to your staff and the team that was connected to or responsible for the complaint, and determine what happened. Here you might uncover that the review is fake or fraudulent, in which case you still want to give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt. If this happens, respond letting let them know you can’t find them in your records, share contact information so they can connect with you offline, and state your commitment to help fix their situation. While the review may be fake, your prospects will still see how you respond, so be patient and respond even if you think it’s fake. If you do in fact deem the review as fake, report it as fraudulent. Within the review, click the three vertical dots and select, “flag as inappropriate.” To check on the status of your flagged reviews, you can access the support section within your Google My Business™ homepage.
Now, back to those complaints that are real. See what you can do to make up for the bad experience and offer a resolution to the reviewer through an offline channel. Ask them to email you or contact your customer service team so you can offer up the make-good offline. Alert any team members to whom you are directing the complaint, so they are armed and ready with the information needed to resolve the situation. This way you aren’t publicly sharing what you’re willing to give up for bad reviews. Oftentimes, the reviewer will not take this next step and has moved on, but for those who do connect with you, there’s a good chance they’ll follow up with a second review to indicate the issue was rectified.
Pay attention to your reviews.
Learn from negative reviews and work with your team to prevent them from happening again. This might require additional training or revisiting parts of your service model; either way, this is an opportunity to look more closely at the experience you are providing to your customers and make improvements based on their direct feedback.
Solicit reviews from happy customers.
People tend to leave a review for one of two reasons. They’ve either had a really negative experience or a really great one, so make sure to encourage those who’ve had a good experience to leave a review. Send follow-up emails or include a product insert asking people what they thought of your business or services and encourage them to write a review if they were impressed. In turn, encourage customers to contact you if they experienced any issues to help avoid them from leaving a negative review.
Whether the reviews you’re receiving are valid or fake, it’s important to respond to them in a timely manner and address any complaints to show your customers and prospects that you care about their business and are willing to do what it takes to make your customers happy.
For more information on how to manage your online reputation, contact
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