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Pinstripe Answers: How Do I Fix a Bad Online Review?

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by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

This is a question we get asked about a lot. Getting rid of a bad review is not easy, but there are ways to fix it, all of which depend upon where it’s at and your level of interaction.

Many of our clients are in the professional services industry. They rely on recommendations and positive online reviews through sites such as Google, Lawyers.com and the Better Business Bureau. Occasionally, they’ll get a bad review on one of these sites or other lesser-known ones that may have a long term effect on their reputation. While there’s no single easy fix for a bad review, there are many approaches to lessen the effects, and in some cases turn a negative into a positive.

 

Where It’s at Matters

In real estate, location matters. The same can be said for a bad online review. Some websites allow you to respond, while others don’t. The trick is to watch them closely, set up alerts through Google and hire a reputation watchdog.

Let’s take a look at where and what you can do about it.

  • Social Media – Respond Directly and Send a Direct Message (DM)

You have “complete” control of your social media account; therefore, you can delete anything posted directly to your wall. But, business reviews on Facebook or other social media platforms cannot be deleted. You can respond to them, and this article will tell you how to formulate a positive, non-adversarial response.

Another way to handle a bad review is to send a direct message to the reviewer and find some sort of common ground. This may require an investigation into the source of their frustration, as well as some humble pie. The point is to see if they can change or delete their rating. Be very careful about your approach and the words you use. And, be humble, because saying the wrong thing could make matters worse.

  • Google – Respond Directly if Possible and Respond to Review

The world’s #1 search engine also provides its users with business ratings and snippets of reviews. You can “Manage Reviews” in your Google My Business account. Avoid using your smartphone or another mobile device when doing this. Your laptop/desktop gives you the ability to take your time and collect your thoughts—make sure spelling, grammar, and tone are correct.

Take a moment to assess a negative review before you respond. Was this customer a good fit for your business? How were their expectations not met? Can you reach out to them directly? A response is necessary, especially when there’s nothing you can do or say to make them feel better about your business. Just make sure that you follow proper etiquette and maintain a very professional posture. At all costs avoid getting into a back and forth argument with the dissatisfied customer. This is unprofessional and will make you look worse in the eyes of your audience.

A similar approach to responding to Facebook reviews can be taken here as well. Respond directly to the client by reaching out to them personally in an attempt to mend the relationship. In turn they may remove their negative feedback or change it to a positive. Win-win situation here!

  • Lawyers.com – No Response

What do you do when you can’t respond to a bad review or several of them? You go on the offensive and reach out to as many clients as possible and solicit positive reviews. To capture their attention, offer them something in return, such as a book that’s relevant to their industry or free consultation. Be creative with this, because the more you get, the less substantive that negative review will be.

  • Yelp.com – Respond Directly and Send a Direct Message (DM)

People are paying attention to how you respond to a positive or negative review. So, you need to respond to every review, but take your time to know more about a negative review before you respond. If you don’t know the “whole” story, you may hurt your chances to change that bad review. This starts with reaching out to the reviewer. If you know their email address, send them an email. If not, you can DM them through Yelp. Find out more about the situation and how you can remedy it. If they aren’t willing to respond, then compose and post your response to their review.

 

Your Response Needs to Be Timely

You need to respond as quickly as possible for each negative review for a couple of reasons. The first is so others will see that you are committed to your clients and care about their experience with your business. The other reason is that you have a major opportunity to change a bad review into a good one. According to Yelp, you have a 33% chance to change a bad review into a good one if you respond within 24 hours.

The Pinstripe PR team are reputation management pros and can help mitigate negative comments. We have helped local and nationally-based businesses with their online reputation. Contact us to learn how we can help strengthen your reputation.