January 30, 2020
The first thing to remember is, do not be hasty. Getting caught up in the moment will likely lead to a worse situation for your business. You must take action, but you need to make sure that you devise a plan first. The fact that your researching / reading this is a good sign.
The ultimate goal when you get a harsh review is to delete it. There are a few different ways to achieve that or something to that effect.
Review sites do not give businesses a way to delete a customer review. The reason is that these sites aim to provide unbiased information.
However, review sites do give businesses a way to report reviews that contain content that does not meet its contribution policy. The policies for each review site are different, but one fact remains the same. Sites remove reviews that violate the rules.
Google is one of the most popular review sites, so let's take a look at their policy a little more in-depth.
Obscene, profane, or offensive language.
Information that is off-topic
Find the full policy here https://support.google.com/contributionpolicy/answer/7400114
If the review does not meet Google standards, flagging it is your best course of action. You can follow this article to flag a review. https://support.google.com/contributionpolicy/answer/7445749?hl=en&ref_topic=7422769
If you weren't given a get out of jail free card by the reviewer, then you will have to try something else.
Although a business can not delete a review, the reviewer does have the ability. I mention this because not all reviews are created to live on for a long time. Sometimes people leave negative reviews to use as leverage to get a business to cave to demands.
So ask yourself, was there something the customer was pushing for that you did not provide? It is safe to assume the customer is not looking to negotiate if a review is anonymous. But if the reviewer identified themselves, then you might have a way out. Albeit not without some effort.
If you feel there is a chance this is the goal of the writer, reach out to them and calmly and politely and see if you can find a compromise that includes them removing the review.
Staying calm is of utmost importance. Especially if the conversation does not work out as planned. Remember, users can edit reviews. At this point, you know the individual has a propensity for turning to online reviews when they are upset. If things go south, do your best to cut your losses and end the conversation.
If you are dealing with an anonymous review or nothing has worked to this point, don't worry. You still have options. One such option is to respond to the statement.
All the primary reviewing services give the person on the receiving end of the review the ability to respond to claims people are making about them.
Include a thank you
Apologize for the inconvenience
Don't make excuses
Offer to make things right
It helps if the response comes from someone high up in the company. It makes the customer feel like their concerns are being taken seriously. Plus, if the review is not removed, at least people reading the reviews will see that the company takes customer complaints seriously.
Responding to reviews is another situation where you need to be delicate to avoid doing more harm than good. If you know you are too emotional to write an appropriate response, have someone further removed the situation, write it. Or at least have them proofread it before you make it public.
There is one more strategy for dealing with negative reviews. One that also makes your business more resilient to the possibility of future bad publicity.
Hide negative reviews in a pile of positive reviews.
After all, it is ok to have a negative review if it is the outlier. A single one-star rating amongst four others with five stars gives you an average over four stars. That's pretty good.
Business is all about reducing risk. Negative reviews stick out more when a company has very few reviews. So if you don't have a safeguard of positive reviews built up, your business is exposed to risk.
Instead of dealing with your current negative review situation and then hoping that no more pop up, implement a solution that will eliminate your business's vulnerability to negative reviews once and for all.