Reviews are an absolutely crucial part of your website – and one of your hero pages, which is our name for those all-important webpages that clients expect to see on your website (you can read more about those here). In fact, one study showed that 79% of adults browsing online check reviews.

Reviews give you credibility and build trust with your website visitors, sell your products and services through the words of your clients, and can be a useful tool for gathering feedback, relaying what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. What’s more, they can be fed through to your site from other platforms in real time, giving to-the-minute information that provides interest, shows you’re actively busy and could encourage your visitors to convert to booking.

Surprisingly, some businesses try to avoid incorporating reviews. This may be because they feel they are giving up control over their brand image and that if they receive negative reviews, it will show their company in a poor light. However, if you do receive a negative review, it can be turned into a positive – for you and your clients.

In this post, our marketing experts share our top ways to manage negative reviews.

1) Time is of the essence

In a switched-on world, your clients will expect a response automatically. In fact, 40% of clients expect a response within an hour. Identify and deal with negative reviews quickly, and you’ll help cushion the blow and prevent others from reading them and forming a negative impression. Ignoring a review, on the other hand, only serves to weaken your position and can make your business come across as uncaring or disinterested, which could lead to more negative reviews, or could escalate the situation.

2) Keep it professional

When a review is negative, and especially if it gets personal, your emotions can get the better of you. But whether you agree with what’s being said or not, the age-old mantra of ‘the customer is always right’ applies.

* Respond publicly – even if it’s just to give details on managing the situation offline. This shows you’re being reasonable and are willing to address their issues.
* Stay calm, respectful and professional – deal with the reviewer how you’d want to be dealt with. If handled badly, you could lose custom – whereas through a positive interaction, you can show your business in a good light and move the situation forward.
* Be sincere – acknowledge their concerns, but be careful not to finger-point or make excuses. Focus instead on how you’re going to solve the problem and how a negative experience isn’t the norm.

3) Request removals

While you shouldn’t simply remove a review because you find it negative – you could prompt further reviews and appear as if you have something to hide – there are some situations where you can request removal:

* Fake and misleading reviews – these could be written by staff current or former, a competitor, or even a family member or friend. It can be tempting to leave them up if the content is positive, but remember – this could affect your credibility and trustworthiness if revealed to be written by someone you’re linked to.
Resolved reviews – if you’ve managed to successfully resolve an issue, reach out to the reviewer and ask if they would consider removing their review. You could also ask if the reviewer to amend the review – 33% of reviews on Yelp turn positive when someone responds to the complaint.

4) Encourage connection

For clients who are happy with your products or services, ensure you give them details for leaving a review and build on their positive experience. In fact, you should be making it easy for clients to post and view reviews as a whole. This could help encourage repeat custom and may even help recommend you to others. You can also use your reviews to build staff morale or identify weak areas, not to mention you can share them on your social media or website blog to build your business presence and reputation.

Remember, the more positive reviews you have, the better it is for your business. And just because you receive the odd negative review, doesn’t mean your business is doing something wrong or badly. Having a mix of positive and negative reviews shows you’re a real business – clients value honesty, and honesty helps build trust.

In closing, we’d like to share some of our tips for managing reviews, good and bad;

– Register with Google Alerts – this shows when and where people are posting about you
– Register with popular review sites and create a real-time feed to your website
– Offer incentives to those giving reviews
– Use any legitimate negative reviews to make your business better and stronger

And finally, one study revealed that on average, only 14% of reviews aren’t 4 or 5 stars – so capitalise on the positive ones, and use our tips to manage the negative ones. For more ideas, or for help and support, get in touch with our team today.