No one goes into business wanting to alienate customers, so the first time you discover a negative review on your Google Business listing, it can be upsetting. You might feel the 1-star rating is unfortunate, undeserved, or even worse, the review might be from someone who’s not even a customer of yours. All of this can make you feel frustrated and angry, but here’s what you can do to mitigate the damage as much as possible.
1. Take a deep breath. A negative review is actually not as bad as it seems. No matter how great a job your business does, eventually someone is going to have something critical to say. In fact, bad reviews are so universal that consumers are actually suspicious if a business has nothing but 5-star ratings. Perfection looks fake, and when it comes to building trust online, authenticity is key. Research shows that there’s a sweet spot between 4.2 and 4.5 for purchase probability, so don’t get obsessed about having a perfect 5-star score.
2. Respond professionally. One of the things consumers look for when choosing a business is how that business handles feedback, especially when it’s negative. Will a customer be treated with respect if they report a problem, or will the owner get defensive or even ignore them? This is your opportunity to show that you care about your customers’ experience, and that you want to work with them to correct any problems and make things right again. Respond promptly and politely, acknowledge their dissatisfaction, and suggest any steps that could be taken to solve the issue. If you need help knowing how to word your response, there are online templates and examples you can use to reply to a range of negative or neutral reviews.
3. Request a removal. To be clear, this probably won’t get you anywhere, and for reasons we’ve already discussed, it’s almost always better to respond to reviews rather than removing them. However, if you really feel a particular review needs to go, you can ask Google to delete it. Be prepared for disappointment, though – Google will only remove reviews that meet a very narrow set of criteria. A dispute or disagreement with a reviewer is not considered a valid reason for removal, so unless the reviewer has actually violated Google’s policies, you can probably expect your request to be rejected.
4. Bury the review. Potential customers love to check the most recent reviews, so if your latest Google review is a negative one, you can help push it farther down the page by covering it with newer positive ones. The trick to making this happen quickly is to ask a couple of your existing clients, perhaps even family or friends, if they would be willing to add a few words to the 5-star review they already posted. New edits to a review bump that review up to the top of the “most recent” list, which can help bury the negative review and make it less obvious.
Managing your online reputation is just one aspect of a successful digital marketing strategy. If you want help navigating the bigger picture, contact us for a free consultation, where we’ll help you find the best way forward for success in 2023 and beyond.
COGO Interactive is an award-winning digital marketing agency specializing in online marketing strategy, web design, SEO and social media marketing. We work with clients in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC and across the nation.