I receive frequent requests to help businesses undo the probable damage of a poor Google review. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to ‘fix it.’
It may be your first inclination to try to remove a negative review. You can flag the comment and write a note to Google explaining why the comment should be removed, but in most cases, it goes unnoticed. The only exception could be the use of profanity or malicious intent.
There are a few steps you can take that may help, however.
First, and most importantly, whether the review was valid or fictitious, you’ll want to respond appropriately. A response doesn’t increase the stars in your Google review nor does it make it go away, but it does help when people take the time to read you say. It shows that you care. My short advice is to respond and publicly acknowledge the complaint, regardless of the nature. Then, try to take the conversation offline.
Sometimes – actually, most of the time for our clients – poor Google reviews result from disgruntled former employees, which could cause a prospective employee to think twice about working for your company. Handling this situation depends on the company size and structure. It’s important to ensure confidentially of the person giving a negative review. For this reason, I recommend keeping the response vague, but showing genuine concern. It’s probable that the person will not respond to your comment (and, if they do, you want to be sure you’re not engaging in an online battle), but the digital footprint of your response will remain. Make sure you say something that you want people to remember when they think about your company.
Another alternative is to solicit positive reviews from satisfied customers. This is a slippery slope for some folks. I have clients that want to counteract those bad reviews with better reviews – and proactively try to encourage favorable reviews from clients. I think this is acceptable, if it’s not overbearing and if it’s not an entry point to some type of giveaway. I have other clients that would never think of asking their clients to give them positive reviews and even shun the idea of it.
The reality is that a business may never know the true weight of Google reviews – positive or negative – but a business can always gauge the satisfaction of their current customers. In fact, I believe this should be built into operations, regardless of how much a business takes stock in their online reputation.
What do you think? How much power is in a Google review? What's your policy for handling negative feedback?