Help! My business has bad online reviews
Several global studies have been conducted over the last few years on the impact and importance of online reviews. Unanimously, online reviews are highly likely to influence purchasing decisions, and have the power to change consumer behaviour.
The Pew Research Center found that 40 per cent of Americans always or almost always read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing an item. Here in Australia, 60 per cent of respondents reported reading online reviews or blogs before making a purchasing decision. In this way, online reviews are incredibly influential, far more perhaps than SMEs realise.
The Media Consumer Survey (2016) on Australian media and digital preferences found that that 25 per cent of the population write product reviews on review sites, e-commerce sites or blogs.
“The digital equivalent of this, online reviews or recommendations from someone within an individual’s social media circle is now the second highest influence on buying decision, selected by 58% of survey respondents and surpassing the influence of TV advertising for the first time," says the 2016 Media Consumer Survey.
How to manage negative reviews
In light of these statistics, it’s no surprise that managing negative reviews online is important. It’s really all about flagging reviews that look worrisome or inappropriate.
Here are three easy steps towards managing a negative review online.
- Respond promptly – This ensures the matter is solved immediately, and shows the plaintiff and the online public that you take complaints seriously.
- Respond in writing – This demonstrates singularity that you regret the plaintiff did not have a good experience with your product or service.
- Provide an opportunity for private contact – This ensures that all parties may come to a resolution. Taking the discussion offline will avoid any unnecessary back-and-forths.
In addition to these three steps, Google My Business provides an invaluable tool that pulls together your reviews across the web, no matter what the website.
How not to manage negative reviews
Whatever you do, don’t voice your anger or frustration online. Even in instances where the review is wrong, or unjust, it is important that you appear professional, respectful and in control of the dialogue. So rather than getting yourself all wound up, step back and consider your next move carefully.
Remember, consumers can often be disingenuous, so don’t always assume that you are in the wrong.
How to manage fake reviews
Section 29 of Australian Consumer Law prevents businesses from making or inducing false or misleading representations through testimonials or reviews. Unfortunately, this law is being ignored by many businesses online.
In their joint investigation into the review policies of sharing economy platforms, consumer group CHOICE and the ACCC found that up to 15 per cent of reviews online are fake.
In this way, consumers are being duped by dodgy digital marketing tactics. It’s important that business owners and managers are aware of the risks of fake reviews online. It's vital that SMEs implement monitoring strategies so that they can report any unethical goings on.
Thankfully, fake reviews will often look fabricated, so it’s not impossible to spot them when they appear.
Removing negative reviews
Reputation management starts with cleaning up any bad reviews that pop-up in search engine results or review websites. While it can be difficult to remove online reviews, you can learn to optimise other properties so that your business still ranks well.
You can do this by showcasing properties that:
- Show your business in a positive light
- Allow you to link directly to your website
- Have your business name in the URL
- Interlink across your social media accounts and other online platforms
Removing online reviews can be tricky, but with the right advice from a digital agency, you can manage your reputation online. You can also find whys to let your happy customer know how to provide a positive review of your business online.
If you'd like to find out more about removing negative online reviews, contact a digital specialist in Melbourne.
Digital360 on 15 May 2017
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