Not too long ago, business reviews were written by subject-matter experts and printed in well-known publications. In today’s world, that’s simply no longer the case. Nowadays your customers can easily voice their opinion and experience they had with your business online for the world to see.
But that’s actually a good thing – and there are plenty of good reasons why your business should be listed on review sites. The first is that you get to add a link to your website which will boost your traffic. And, secondly, people can also get some basic information about your business such as your hours of operation, where you’re located, your phone number and so on.
Most importantly, it’s the customer reviews on these review sites (they call them review sites for a reason!) that make them so important, but it also can be a double-edged sword. Positive reviews can do wonders for your business, as review websites are considered more credible than any form of advertising. But negative reviews can have disastrous consequences to your bottom line. The complaint can be serious enough to significantly derail your business – such as a report about seeing bedbugs in a hotel room or a cockroach in an entrée at a restaurant. What’s really frustrating is when the report is not true and has no merit at all. But the question is, when should you remove reviews that make your business look bad?
Advantages of Removing Negative Reviews
Purging negative reviews can be a good thing. First of all, it limits the number of people who’ll ever read them – keeping the damage to a minimum. After all, it’s not unusual for a potential customer to reconsider their choice after reading just one negative review over a dozen positive ones.
Another benefit to removing negative reviews means that your average rating will go up. Studies show that a high customer rating means a potential increase of 55% in sales. According to Yelp, a restaurant with a 4-star rating is 63% more likely to be full at any given time than a restaurant with just a 3-star average rating. And a one-star increase in the average rating can bump up your revenue by five to nine percent. So it’s blatantly obvious why anyone who runs a business would want to remove negative reviews.
Disadvantages of Removing Negative Reviews
But these reasons alone for removing negative reviews doesn’t mean you should necessarily do so. In fact, websites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google don’t make it easy for you to remove negative reviews for one very simple reason— it damages the credibility of the site and the business.
Removing reviews is to remove trust. People trust review websites because they believe that by and large the reviews are honest and unbiased. To most people, it’s an obvious red flag if they only find positive reviews. There has to be some contrast. You can’t please everyone and consumers know that. They will become suspicious if all you have is raving reviews about your business. In this way, negative reviews are helpful because almost seven out of ten consumers are more likely to trust the reviews when they see that there are both positive and negative reviews in the mix. In fact, it’s been found that shoppers who read negative reviews are actually 67% more likely to convert than the average consumer.
What to Do When Slapped with Negative Reviews
First of all, you need to understand that unless the review is inaccurate, is a fake review or violates the policy of the review website in question, you don’t stand a very good chance of actually getting the review removed. To start with, you need to keep an eye out for reviews – whether they are positive or negative. But if you can’t spend the whole day manually monitoring these websites, it’s a good idea to consider using an online tool like reviewpush.com to help you monitor the sites automatically. If you want a free alternative, setting up a Google Alert will pretty much do the same thing.
Once you have been alerted to a new review, it’s best if you can respond to it right away, good or bad. When you respond to positive reviews, it shows that you’re a gracious business owner who acknowledges the importance of your customers. But when you are responding to negative reviews or complaints, you have several options. For example, if a customer felt your business fell short in some way, then you should apologize and promise to do better. You can turn a negative into a positive by taking responsibility but also emphasizing how you’re going to do better next time to balance things out.
You can even engage with the customer and ask ideas from them. Apologize for any inconvenience
caused and, then, ask if they have suggestions on how you can do things better.
Whatever you do, just be polite. The good thing about responding to negative reviews is that 33% of the reviews are amended and become a positive review when they get a response from business owners. So it’s a win-win solution. Negative reviews with inaccuracies or negative comments about your business that are flat out lies and are posted maliciously–often by competitors, or disgruntled ex-employees – are the reviews that you’ll have the best chances of getting removed. But there must be a legitimate reason.
How to Remove Reviews
Each review site has its own rules and guidelines, but for most reputable sites you can’t just remove a review simply because it says negative things about your shop. However, you can take a peek at the guidelines governing such reviews, and you can flag a negative review if you think it has violated a rule or guideline. For other review sites, you need to get in touch with the website’s webmaster and ask them to delete the derogatory comment. At the very least, Google can be instructed to not crawl or index the page. They will probably require a compelling reason to remove reviews, so back up your request with as much proof as possible.
Google allows you to flag inappropriate content. They, then, review and remove flagged material that:
»» Includes spam
»» Contains phone numbers or URLs
»» Is off-topic
»» Contains offensive language
»» Poses a conflict of interest
»» Contains illegal content
»» Features copyrighted content
»» Includes sexually explicit content
»» Suggests impersonation
»» Has confidential content
»» Implements hate speech
Flag any review that falls under any of the above categories so it can be evaluated for removal by Google.
Facebook has a comparable method of reporting negative reviews as Google; the Facebook Community Standards explains inappropriate content that should be flagged. Facebook will remove posts that contain:
»» Violence or make threats
»» Self-harming information
»» Bullying and harassment
»» Hate speech
»» Graphic content
»» Sexually explicit content
»» Private content
»» Security violations
Follow the steps below to request a review removal on Facebook:
- Click at the top right of the review
- Click “I don’t like this review”
- Click “report” and follow the instructions on the screen
Just like Google, Facebook will look into the post and determine if it should be removed based on the Community Standards.
Yelp is somewhat trickier to navigate. Contradictory to Google and Facebook, they list what should not be used in content without clearly explaining what qualifies a comment for removal:
»» Threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech and other displays of bigotry
»» Conflict of interests
»» Promotional content
»» Privacy concerns
»» Intellectual property
Things get complicated when you need to report content that doesn’t abide by Yelp’s rules. Reporting must be made according to the rule that was violated. More often than not, you can simply flag the post and follow up with a short explanation about why you flagged it.
Whether you plan to keep or dispute a negative review, your main priority should be to boost the trust of your customers. Remember, positive reviews can make them trust you, but the presence of negative reviews doesn’t always mean that they will trust you less. It may be better to simply respond to negative reviews in a proactive way than try to remove them. When you show to your customers that you value them by making every effort to give them a positive experience, then even bad reviews can be used to your advantage.