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How to Handle Negative Google Reviews
We’ve been there. You check your business on Google or get a notification and see someone has left a negative review. It’s easy to feel annoyed or angry, to feel someone is trying to intentionally hurt your business you work so hard to make a success. With how many potential customers find local businesses via Google, it’s not a situation to take lightly. But it’s also one to not get emotional about. When you receive a negative review on Google, here are a few ways to approach it so you can keep your reputation and even possibly get rid of the bad review.
Step one is to read the review. Really read it. Is it possible the complaints have any validity? No one is perfect and no business is either. Lapses in service happen even with the best of intentions. If you can see the merit of the complaint, owning up to it and offering to make it right is the simplest approach. If you offer a way for the customer to reach out to you directly to resolve the issue, you might even be able to get them to remove the review entirely.
Now what if you’ve read the review, calmly considered it, and still find the complaint to be inaccurate, crass, or even a potential conflict of interest? This can be trickier, but still an opportunity to help restore any lost reputation. Google does have rules about what is allowed in a business review, so if the review contains profanity, hate speech, or offensive content, you can ask them to remove it. But those aren’t the only things that are prohibited by Google’s rules. Misinformation, misrepresentation, and advertising/solicitation in reviews are also not allowed and can be grounds to have a review removed.
If your negative review falls into one of these categories, report the review to Google. Their first step of review is largely automated, so don’t fret if they come back and say it’s OK. You have a one-time per review escalation to a human where you have a brief form to fill out to state your case for removal. If even after escalation the review still stands, your last recourse is to respond to the negative review. It’s important even if the review is insulting to not respond in kind. Be professional, polite, but point out the ways their complaints are inaccurate or unfair. “The customer is always right” is a nice adage but it’s not a reason to let a reviewer run over your reputation. In this task, tone is the key. The same defense can read very different with just a few adjustments to word choice or punctuation. Have a trusted person read your reply before you post it to make sure your tone is still friendly and poised even as you contest the negative remarks made.
The absolute worst thing you can do with a negative Google review though is to ignore it. By refusing to engage with unhappy customers you’re showing potential customers how little you care about your reputation or how little attention you’re paying to what people are saying. But with a little bit of care, willingness to engage, and desire to correct misinformation or mistakes, you can keep your business looking good to potential new customers.