The Best Way to Handle a Bad Online ReviewIn the age of online reviews swaying consumer choices, it’s important for businesses to deal with negative reviews in a way that doesn’t add more flames to the fire. Your business can spiral downward if you try to fight fire with fire or respond to negative reviews defensively. Filing lawsuits against reviewers for making false claims simply calls more attention to negativity that reaches a wider audience, since the press likes to cover heated legal disputes. A better strategy is to water down heated reviews with soft comments.

The Power of Reviews

Online reviews are a huge factor with small businesses. While large national corporations have the marketing and public relations budgets to drown out bad press, small businesses do not have this luxury. A high percentage of small business customers research companies online before deciding on purchases. Customer reviews have become a major component of this research and help strengthen customer acquisition rates.

Reviews have credibility because they are all about consumers talking with consumers. Prospective buyers will already get enough positive information from your company’s marketing statements. If someone posts a misleading or false review and it does not match the general flow of other reviews, the customer will likely disregard it. Serious shoppers who know what they’re looking for tend to know the difference between objective comments versus hyperbole.

Balanced Reviews Add Credibility

Occasional negative reviews can actually help a company’s image because they provide a balanced perspective that gives customers a broad range of opinions. Trying to limit reviews to all positive can seem rigged and create distrust with new prospects. It’s simply unrealistic for any brand to generate completely positive reviews. Imagine if all companies were able to drown out or scare off negative reviewers and every review for every product started to have an upbeat feel. Chances are such artful manipulation would just create more suspicion than acceptance.

While a majority of bad reviews should be a wake-up call for any business, a few bad reviews sprinkled in with several good reviews communicates to the consumer that at least different viewpoints are allowed. In fact, many consumers actually want a mix of positive and negative reviews so that they can make up their own minds based on their needs. It is essential for your business to respect a consumer’s right to develop his or her own checklist of pros and cons about your products.

If the buyer already knows why they want your product, they likely won’t let one opposing view sway their purchasing decision.

Nurturing Your Reputation

If you care about your business and your reputation and you shape your business model on constructive feedback, chances are you will not have to worry much about occasional bad reviews. Most review forums and social networks allow you to respond to online reviews. Avoid the temptation of long responses to negative reviews, since many people will regard it as either too much to read or that you are easily rattled by comments.

At the same time, prospects will likely be curious about how you respond to pressure or complaints. Address the reviewer directly or your response may be misinterpreted as battling the crowd. Your main priority should be to exhibit professionalism.

  • Deal with the criticism without making personal attacks or defending every point, which can be interpreted as excuses.
  • Focus more on offering a solution than countering a claim.
  • End your brief response on an upbeat note.

If you spend more time attracting positive reviews than trying to bury bad ones, your interaction with customers and prospects will be much more effective and productive.

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Robb Bailey

Co-Founder & CEO at PageLadder, Inc.
Robb enjoys growing a mean mustache every Movember and putting hot sauce on anything edible. You'll find him doing Content Marketing at his Inbound Marketing Agency in San Diego.
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