If you are a business-owner, you will have been driven up the wall by now by bad online reviews. You try to please everyone with your business, but that is just impossible, and some people are never grateful for service. It’s a fact that angry and unreasonable customers are so much more likely to post a review than pleased customers, and you have no power to delete a review yourself. Furthermore, some people on the internet are ‘trolls’—and find it fun to desecrate a hard-earned business reputation by posting fake reviews. These are all realities of modern business that we must now deal with.
dLook is an company with millions of customers in the industry of building web presences for businesses. So this is our speciality by trade and also because we have had our share of unfair and outrageous reviews. In an industry that cops almost as much online flak as telcomms, we managed to elevate our Google rating from 1-star to almost 4-stars. And we now consistently beat our competition in brand image across Google, Facebook and the other review platforms. How did we do it? We have gotten to know online reviewing systems like the back of our hand and there are several ways that we have stopped, deleted, drowned and prevented bad reviews from misrepresenting our business online–
If someone posts something slanderous or even obscene in a review then your first port of call should be to report it. Reporting inappropriate posts to Google and other companies rarely works, but it is worth your time to prevent damage to your reputation.
Each reviewing platform differs somewhat, but for all of the major ones, reporting a post involves clicking a certain link that is present on each post:
On Google, you must flag the post as inappropriate by clicking the flag icon, as described here. If Google confirms that this comment violates their policies, then you are given permission to edit it yourself. Another lesser known thing you can do is click on the reviewer’s name to view their Google+ profile. If they have made other inappropriate comments, or if this is the only thing they have posted (indicating they might be a troll, spam or bot account), then you should click the flag icon on their profile. If Google then agrees to remove their profile, then their review will be removed from your business.
On Yelp, it’s the same process. Click the flag icon and then you will have to provide an explanation to the moderators as to why this post violates Yelp’s policies. More info here.
On True Local, it’s the same also.
On Facebook, you click the ‘v’ icon on the top right of the post and then in the menu click ‘Report post’. More info.
Contact The Review Company
If you urgently need to remove a bad review, then your second method should be to call or message the review company directly. This is potentially the fastest but by far the hardest and least reliable method. It is exceedingly difficult with these large online companies to break through the barriers of secretaries and call center people to actually speak to someone with the authority to help you. If you have an inside contact or at least some lead, then things will be a lot easier for you, but if not, here is how to go about it–
How to (try to) contact Google about a review: Google My Business no longer provides a phone support option, so you have to start all the way at the bottom. Choose a generic item in this list to request a phone number. However the odds of success are not high.
How to (try to) contact Facebook about a review: there is no Facebook phone support, but if your business is listed as a business on Facebook, you can contact them about this issue through this form.
True Local: this form
Yelp: call (877) 767-9357 or this form
Contact The Reviewer
Another way to get to the source is to contact the person who actually submitted the review. This is a method that has a far higher success rate.
There are two ways to contact the reviewer, and you would benefit from both of them–
Reply To The Review
Put aside your frustration and post a polite, apologetic and explanatory reply to the negative review. The best replies I’ve seen have apologised in the first sentence for the experience of the customer, and then go on to explain politely the misconceptions in the review and offer solutions.
Here is a very good example written by our General Manager in response to a review alleging that dLook is a scam company:
I can assure you that we work with real businesses and that our results are real. But don’t take my word for it. You can call some of our customers if you would like. www.thecookingroom.com.au/, www.stratacleaningeasternsuburbs.com.au/ we have thousands of customers who we manage sites for. Alternatively I can see you posted from Manly and you are more than welcome to visit our office at Level 8, 46 Market St, just opposite the QVB. Or feel free to call the number (02) 9290 2821 and you can speak to the receptionist or ask for me and I’d be happy to talk you through what we do and the real results we return for our customers. The sites you are talking about with passwords on them are ones currently under construction, I’m sure if you revisit them now you’ll see they are complete.
The honest effort put into that reply goes half the way in proving that this is not a scam company in itself.
As you can see, replying to reviewers has several possible benefits:
- Minimising the impact of the bad review. Readers can tell that the reviewer is in the wrong in this case
- Winning back a paying customer
- Getting a reviewer to contact you, and then persuading them to remove the review. This is the next strategy–
Get In Touch With The Reviewer
If you can find a way to privately contact the reviewer, then you should do so also. The tone of your correspondence should be the same as the example above, because only by being nice to these people are you going to persuade them. The worst thing is to confirm their belief that you are not a good company.
One challenge with this method is getting their contact details. No site lists these on the review. But, you can click their name to get to their profile, where they may list some contact information. The most common way you are going to be able to message these people is through the private message function of the site. But the private message functions of Facebook and Google+ are the best to use when you can—these messages are more likely to be seen by the reviewer. However, in some cases, reviews are completely anonymous and without the ability to private message. This is unlucky.
The focus of your correspondence should go from: apologetic → explanatory → asking them to remove the review
This is an extension to the last point and has a higher rate of success. Since bad reviews can lose you uncountable amounts of revenue, it might be in your best interests to message the reviewer with a free offer. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, you could buy the removal of this review from the person with a free meal. This may violate some policies of the review platform, so you should check this. And the reviewer may think negatively of your business enough to not want your free offer, meaning that you may have to bribe them with money—and this seems that it would almost certainly violate some policy.
Counteract It With Good Reviews
This is one of the most effective methods but has its own set of challenges. The objective is to flood your reviews section with positive reviews that bury the bad review under them, and drown the low rating in high ratings to elevate your average. It’s obvious to want all these good reviews—but how do I get them?
Email Loyal And Previous Customers: As long as you don’t spam your customers, you can probably get away with sending all of them an email asking them to give you a good review.
Ask In Person: Asking for a review in person is always going to get a higher success rate, especially if you can make them agree to do it in person.
DONT: Buy Reviews: This can seriously damage your reputation if it is found out. What’s more, Yelp, Amazon and other companies have actually sued over this in the past because false advertising is illegal. So it’s not worth it.
DONT: Write Your Own Reviews: Companies have gotten sued over this as well, and review platforms have gotten increasingly able to detect self-reviews. For instance, accounts made in a short time-frame just to leave 5-star comments on the same business ring alarm bells in most good review systems
Delete Your Account And Start Over
This is the real hard-line solution. Start from scratch. It’s a very drastic solution because you will lose all your good reviews as well in the process. We don’t recommend this. It will leave your company looking like an extremely small start-up which has only just come into operation. It may even give people the impression that your company is not real—and it could confirm suspicions that you are a scammer or the like. This is really a last resort solution.
Use dLook Reputation Management So You Can Check Your Reviews Before They Go Online
All of the methods so far have been difficult but in many cases worthwhile. We encourage you to do these methods and whatever you can to improve your businesses online reputation—because this reputation is a large source of your income in the present day. Which is why we used our knowledge of online reviews to create dLook Reputation Management—an online platform for managing your reviews and online presence.
‘Management’ is the key word here. The whole problem of bad reviews that we have been talking about in this article comes from the inability to manage your own reviews on other review platforms. You have no say as to what gets posted about you on sites like Google, Yelp and True Local. But, dLook’s Reputation Management system encourages your customers to post their review on this platform instead. This platform is controlled by you, so you have the choice of whether to accept or reject a review from appearing on the net.
dLook Reputation Management goes even further than managing reviews. You can keep your profiles across social media and business sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and TripAdvisor. You can monitor your reviews all over the web in a streamlined interface. No longer will you be unknowingly affected by a bad review that you don’t even know about. You will even see all mentions of your business across the web, and then a comparison of this to your competitors and the comparative growth of these mentions over time in a graph. This is the best way to see your web presence improving in contrast to the competition.
To take charge of your reviews, the best solution is dLook Reputation Management. No longer will your business be at the mercy of bad reviews, and instead you will actually start benefiting from reviews on the web.