It helps to take things step by step, and of course the very first question is, 'Do negative reviews actually have any effect on customer behaviours?'. The answer, regrettably is yes. In one case we've worked with a customer who reported a 60% drop in online sales after a particularly scathing bad review. Circumstances alter cases and just how much effect a negative review will have on you, will depend on a number of factors which are outlined below.
How established your online reputation is: The stronger and more established you are, the less effect a single negative review will have on you. Lots of positive reviews obviously offset the effect of one negative one, but things like a listings entry that's regularly updated with lots of nice photos and quality content will also help. Maintaining a blog, encouraging user contribution to your page and interacting online with your customers also builds your reputation online. A best defence against possible future negative reviews is the pre-emptive action of establishing a strong listing before anything bad happens.
How quickly you spot and respond to the review: If you ignore a bad review, potential customers will think you don't care. A rapid response is essential, so long as it's the right response. Something that will be discussed below. Here it's enough to say that you can't respond to something you don't spot. When you don't have time to monitor the profile of your small business Local fame can do it for you.
How reasoned and specific the negative review is: Most people aren't stupid, a vague rant full of CAPITAL LETTERS and INDIGNATION but very little actual substance, will have less effect on custom than a calmly reasoned statement of disappointment. Neither should be ignored however.
What Should be done about a negative review: On any platform that allows a response, you should make one. Most places do allow owners to reply but a few don't. The quality of your response will make an enormous difference to the effect of the negative review on potential future customers.
Acknowledge the reviewer and their unhappiness, express regret for the situation and describe any steps you've taken to remedy specific problems. Although you're writing to the reviewer, you're hoping that your comments will be read by a wider audience. Keep it short and polite.
You can put your own perspective or mention things the reviewer has neglected to talk about, but avoid any appearance of making excuses and never criticise the reviewer, even when it seems justified. A skilful response to a bad review will do much to limit any damage done, and where the reviewer is clearly being unreasonable your polite, respectful reply may actually result in you turning bad publicity into good.
It can be a tricky thing to get the balance right; especially if you're feeling hurt or angry. When you think there's any risk of your irritation or anger seeping out through your words,get someone else to write the review for you. Once again, this is something that Local Fame can take on for you.
Sometimes you're able to contact the reviewer directly: In this instance an apology or an attempt to make amends by offering a refund or a free/discounted service could be a good way to go. You can ask the reviewer to remove or amend their comments.
When You Think the Review is a Fake: The obvious question is can you appeal it or get it removed? Sometimes, but it takes time and it's not easy. Because different platforms have different policies it's impossible to give one definitive answer.
In some cases, once you respond you can't appeal. so it helps to know your way around the different platforms. It can be hard to weigh up the balance between leaving a negative review unanswered during the period of an appeal, against the possible benefit of removal. Once again, experience of the different platforms and an expert on your side can help no end.
Getting professionals in to help your online reputation management in UK will do much to minimise the effect of the odd bad review. The fact that lots of good publicity counters a little bit of bad is no great surprise. It does mean that the youngest local and small businesses are the most vulnerable, but it's when you're starting up that you're at your busiest, and have least time to spare for developing your profile. That's one reason that Local Fame offers a tiered system, we're here from you right from the start and we'll help you develop your defences in case you ever need them.