by Phil Chow

Business owners often ask me, “How do I get rid of unfair negative reviews of my business?” Unfortunately, you may not always be able to get rid of them. However, you can negate their effects. Here are some ways to do this:

1. Get as many positive reviews as possible

The best way to negate negative reviews is to get as many positive reviews as possible on all the major review sites, like Google Plus for local businesses. That’s because people compare a business’ number of positive reviews to its number of negative reviews. If the number of the positive reviews dwarf the latter, they will believe the business’ positive reviews over its negative ones.

2. Catch potential negative reviews

Another way is to catch any negative reviews before they get posted online by asking your customers to give a review of your business on your feedback forms, etc.

When you later look at their reviews, contact any customers who left you a bad review to try to address the problems they cited in their review. By doing this, you at least show these customers you’re listening to their concerns, which decreases the chances they will later post a bad review of you somewhere online.

3. Convert already published negative reviews

Other ways to deal with negative reviews are finding and then converting negative online reviews to minimize their numbers.

With this strategy, use tools like Google Alerts and Whoistalkin.com. These tools look for mentions of your business across the Internet and alert you to them. Follow up with any bad reviews that they uncover, and, where the online review sites allow you to:

  • post rebuttals and where practical, offer to correct the problem and invite them to contact you in your rebuttal;
  • privately email the negative reviewer and where practical, offer to correct the problem that prompted their bad review;
  • flag the reviews that you feel are unfair and contact the review site with reasons why you feel the review is unfair. Ask them to remove them based on these reasons. For example, here’s a link to ask removal of content from Google. To remove unfair reviews, select “Google Plus” and give the address to your Google Plus Business Page where people left reviews of your business.

https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en

If you can take advantage of posting rebuttals and/or privately emailing negative reviews with offers to fix their problem as mentioned above and you indeed fix them, ask the now satisfied reviewers to give a new, positive review of you. That way potential customers can now see that you’ve addressed the first bad review, which increases credibility of your business in their eyes.

4. Strategically leave some negative reviews in!

You maybe thinking this doesn’t make sense, but hear me out.

People know you can’t please all the people all the time. If they see you have all positive reviews, especially only ones with five stars, they’ll likely think you, your friends and people you paid wrote your reviews. Having the occasional negative review, then, actually boosts the overall credibility of your positive reviews!

Notice how Amazon uses this to great effect by featuring some negative reviews along with positive ones:

Screenshot of Amazon Review 'System'

So consider leaving some bad reviews of your business, alongside your positive reviews, to boost the overall credibility of your positive ones.

Final thoughts

In closing, if you could do only one thing out of the strategies mentioned above, the best way to deal with negative reviews is to be proactive: get as many positive reviews as possible.

This one tactic will increase trust in your business by drowning out any unfair (or fair) negative reviews that you’re sure to eventually get, as you can’t please everyone all the time.

Also, to put things in perspective, getting as many positive reviews as possible means if you can get close to 10% or more of your customers leaving you a review, you’re getting an above average response rate.

This 10% rate shows it can take a while to get a number of positive reviews. I’m still working on mine. But, once you’ve reached a minimum six to ten positive reviews, several things will happen:

  • people will start to believe your positive reviews over any negative ones, if they’re not doing so already;
  • your search ranking will likely go up on the search engines; and
  • your sales will likely go up as a result.

The following slideshow shows you specific ways to reach this threshold for your business:


 

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