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Responding to negative reviews — whether via a review plugin added to your business website or platforms such as Google Maps or Yelp — can be challenging for any business. You know that bad reviews can turn customers away and that too few positive ones can hurt your company’s ranking in search results. Replying appropriately may make the difference between your venture thriving or diving.
Although your first unpleasant review may be troubling, such negativity is common for all kinds of companies — old and new, large or small — so don’t panic. Here’s how to turn negative reviews into positive experiences for you, your supporters, and possibly even the naysayers themselves.
Don’t respond to spam or fake reviews, but don’t ignore them either. As Google explained, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility.” If good reviews improve search results, you can imagine what too many poor reviews — fake or not — will do to your company’s online visibility or ranking.
Although browser giants, such as Google, and some website platforms, including WordPress.com, typically detect and remove spam reviews, watch for any inappropriate or misleading comments that may slip through. Unacceptable reviews or comments include ones using profanity, misleading information, or illegal content, and should be reported promptly.
Consider adding an anti-spam plugin to help stop negative comments from reaching your business website or blog. You could even disable comments in your WordPress.com privacy settings, if you’re concerned about your site’s commenting culture.
Again, responding to spam is not recommended whatsoever — save your energy for legitimate negative reviews.
Not all bad reviews are written by bad people. Sometimes, a negative review is legitimate and constructive, even if you were unaware there was a problem or perceived issue with your business. Say you own a small ice cream parlor, run by a handful of employees. If you suddenly begin receiving reports of slow, sloppy, or unprofessional service, tell reviewers you’ll look into the situation. Be honest, brief, and polite; if your company is at fault, apologize.
Ask upset supporters to reach out to you by email or phone to resolve the issue, suggests Google. By taking ongoing conversations private and making them positive experiences — explaining what went wrong and how you plan to correct it — you can improve opinions.
With a WordPress.com website, you can edit or delete comments received. But pay attention to the poor reviews that come in; they can alert you to trouble on the job. Maybe you recently hired a new employee or supervisor who isn’t keeping up with the position’s demand. If a problem is employee-related, spend more time watching for signs of unacceptable behavior or training issues.
When you get to the root of a legitimate problem and production appears back on track, look to your venture’s review platforms for proof of a positive turnaround. Still, don’t expect to get a five-star rating from every user; negative reviews are a part of the entrepreneurial journey.
As the Search Engine Journal puts it, review readers tend to get suspicious of companies with comments that seem too good to be true, “Research suggests that consumers like to see a mix of good, moderate, and bad reviews when trying to determine if a business is trustworthy. This applies whether you’re a local bakery or an e-commerce store with a global reach.”
Really, all you can do is thank your satisfied reviewers, continue responding to negative reviews appropriately, and get back to business. Now that you know how to calmly and professionally deal with all kinds of online comments, why not use a social listening tool to zero in on brand sentiment, audience engagement, and your competitors’ activity?
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