Deleting a bad review may seem like the best option at the time, especially if it made your blood boil, but it can be detrimental to your business in the long run because it hides the truth.
According to research from PwC; reliability, expertise and professionalism are the most important reputation traits for a local business.1 The best way to build a strong online reputation for your business is through third-party reviews that speak to each of the traits mentioned above.
Further research shows that 68% of customers have further trust when they see both good and bad reviews for a business2. This is largely because the contrast in reviews shows credibility and authenticity.
It’s important to remember that customers who’ve engaged with a business are entitled to voice their opinions in an honest and constructive manner – whether the feedback is positive or negative.
So, before you hit the delete button, carefully consider the feedback and the image you’re wanting to portray to future customers. And consider working towards turning a negative into a positive.
Say it to my face
In today’s technologically advanced society, customers are more likely to post feedback online than to share it in person where you could have rectified the issue on the spot. They simply don’t like confrontation.
This can make reviews feel worse because you’re reading them with little to no context, and in some cases, they can be downright rude and unfair. This is still not cause to delete them provided they are not violent, harassing or encouraging other similar types of behaviour that threaten the safety of your community.
We’re not going to be able to change this shift in delivery of feedback, if anything, it’s increasingly going to move to online with new review sites popping up. Accept that your business is bound to be exposed to both positive and negative feedback online and instead, improve your community management process.
Dealing with a bad review
If a customer posts a negative review, it is important to understand what went wrong in the customer journey and offer a solution – which in turn could turn a negative review to a good one and regain the customer’s trust.
The next time you get a bad review, reframe your mindset. Consider it an opportunity to investigate why the customer has given that feedback, and try to speak with them to better understand the situation that took place.
Sensis’ own data has shown that up to 80% of customers will change their online review when contacted by a business which demonstrates why conversations with customers post-transaction are essential.
By deleting negative reviews, a business is purposefully being dishonest and deceitful to its customers by removing their opportunity to provide honest and genuine feedback on an experience. People are also sceptical of perfection and will question the authenticity of a page with glowing, five-star reviews each and every time.
Dealing with a horrible review
We all know that customers have, at times, been unreasonable and posted scathing reviews that fail to mention their own behaviour. In fact, we might have even done this ourselves at one point.
These types of reviews can reduce the likelihood of a customer using your business, particularly if there are no other reviews to provide balance. The worst thing you could do thought is lose it online, or simply delete because the customer will have a record of it, and it’ll look worse for you.
In this instance, it’s best to sleep on it, then get to the bottom of the issue with the employees involved. Write up a brief, factual response and post this in response to the review.
This way, your customer can understand the real situation, and see your open and honest approach to customer service.
At the end of the day, the best way to tackle negative reviews is to be proactive in managing them.
The ACCC has further advice on how to handle negative reviews, but it’s also worth investigating how to handle positive reviews as well, like showing gratitude, which can help to balance out any negative feedback you receive.
Reviews, both good and bad are part and parcel with owning or running a business and they no doubt significantly impact purchasing decisions and determine whether someone trusts your business. They can also be great opportunity to learn from your customers or rectify an internal issue, improving your business for the better.
Stephen Palmer is the Executive General Manager at White Pages.