Review Sites: How To Clean Up When Dirty Laundry Goes Public

Jim Luff
Posted on October 12, 2017

A common catchphrase among today’s consumers is “I’ll Yelp you!” This refers to posting a bad review about a business on Yelp. It has become a way for customers to complain about, as well as threaten, a business. Carried out, it could dissuade prospective clients and ding your reputation. Not to mention cause needless drama. What, if anything, can be done about it?

Using A Review For Blackmail

Josh Roman, owner of Heaven on Wheels in Dallas, had a client who broke a radio display screen in a party bus and refused to pay for the damage. Not only did he refuse to pay for the damage, but he told Roman if the company attempted to pursue charges, he would punish them by posting bad reviews on several sites. This could be an idle threat or it could really happen. Even if it did, it wouldn’t necessarily tarnish the company’s image. Readers can easily spot a defamatory review if posted ammong mostly positive ones.

Never Do This

The absolute worst response is no response. This leaves everyone who reads the review to assume it’s true since you have no rebuttal. It implies you don’t care enough to speak up for your company. Another bad response is to engage in a war of words for everyone to see. This can become a public relations nightmare and compound a bad review by making your company look as if it mistreats customers.

Kristen Carroll, owner of The LMC Group, an industry marketing company, suggests you respond with a kind and maybe even humorous comment to let readers know you read the reviews and do respond. “It will endear you to anyone reading reviews,” Carroll says.

What To Do With A Bad Review

Handling a negative review requires finesse. You should take a step back, evaluate the situation, and carefully craft a response that will clear your name while avoiding a direct attack on the reviewer. But before you choose what to say, a phone call or email to the client to discuss the situation may result in them modifying the review or even deleting the review if the complaint is resolved to their satisfaction. Pick up the phone, hear their story, and try to resolve it during the call. If you succeed in resolving the complaint, you can address the review.

Saying something like, “I understand how upset you were and I am glad we were able to resolve this matter. Would you consider updating the review so it reflects your satisfaction?” That may just get the review taken down.

Sample Responses

Rather than igniting a public war resembling poured gasoline on a tiny fire, if the author of a bad review won’t work out an amicable resolution, you will need to post a response of some type. If you want more examples other than the ones offered below, visit www.tripadvisor.com and look at a review for almost any major hotel and you will see that most of the chain hotels respond to every single review.

Example #1: “Thank you for taking the time to post this review. We are very sorry our service delivery failed to meet your expectations. Your complete satisfaction is our goal and I invite you to call us so we might have an opportunity to leave you with a better impression of our company.”

Example #2: “Thank you for taking the time to detail your experience. We have taken steps to correct the concerns you expressed in your review. Your review helps us make improvements. Please give us a call so we can share these improvements with you.”

No Big Worries

While it’s human nature to be upset when someone disses you on social media, it’s not the end of the world. A lone bad review will not define your company. Of course, if the only review you have is a bad one, that’s not good. However, “if you have 30 five-star reviews, it looks suspicious,” Carroll advises. “So if you have mostly good reviews, and a few bad ones, and you respond to them in a timely and good natured manner, bad reviews can be more effective at gaining new clients than good ones. People like to see owners and managers interacting with clients, and as long as you don’t ‘slam’ your bad reviewers, but merely set the record straight, you end up looking pretty awesome.” A bad review is to a business owner much like someone disparaging your child. It’s infuriating, but remember it won’t ruin your business.

Encourage Reviews

Let’s start with the fact most people will go to a review site when they have something negative to say. Compare this to how many times someone calls your office to tell you about a problem. Whether it’s a billing dispute or a service issue, people will easily complain. Now, think back to how many people phoned you to say, “Hey, I was just calling to tell you how awesome your service was.” How many times have you called a place to complain versus the number of times you have called to tell someone you really enjoyed their service or product? So you see why you should encourage clients to review your company with enough five- and four-star ratings. If review sites are loaded up with positive reviews from your clients and one person posts a negative review, the readers will generally discount the bad review and may even think the author is a jerk. Consider sending a “thank you” email to your clients after service is done and place a link to a review site. Better yet, add the logo buttons for Facebook, Google, and Yelp so people can choose the site they prefer for reviews.

Reviews Boost SEO

The term SEO, or search engine optimization, remains a mystery to many people. In a small example of how SEO works, reviews, both positive and negative, can boost your company name to the top of search engine results simply by being relative.

Let’s consider optimization in terms of popularity. Look back to your high school years and who was most popular on campus. There probably was a popular football star and maybe a very popular cheerleader. If someone were to ask, “Who should we nominate for homecoming king and queen?” Guess whose names are going to be thrown out first? Probably those two.

When someone searches the Internet for “limo companies in Palm Springs,” the first “organic listing” is Cardiff Limousine. That’s because they are the most popular and well known in the industry. Their name is probably searched more than any other limousine company in the area. The more the search engines “hear” about your company, the more relevant you become in organic placement. So every time someone reviews your company, whether good or bad, the search engines see people talking about your company which boosts your relevancy. Encourage those reviews! 

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Related Topics: customer service, Facebook, Google, online reviews, social media, Yelp

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