It happens to just about every company at some point. Someone leaves a negative or 1-star review online, bringing your total rating down a few notches. Or worse, that 1-star rating might be your only rating! Whether the negative review was left by an unhappy customer, a disgruntled employee, a competing company, or whatever the reason, unless you have a lot of excellent reviews to offset that bad one, it's going to hurt your business.
Do a Google search for your company name. Look through all the search results on Page 1, 2 and 3, and see if there are any that have stars next to them. Many online listings websites allow consumers to leave reviews for companies, but only a few show your average star rating in Google search results. Google My Business is the most important, and your overall star rating with Google My Business can affect your website and Google My Business ranking. Other websites that show your average star rating in Google search results that are important as well include Yelp, Houzz, Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, Angie's List, and Yellow Pages.
So what do you do if you get a negative review? Remember that you cannot remove reviews (except in certain circumstances... continue reading) But here's what you can do instead:
Here's a negative review that was left for one of my roofing contractor clients:
"Charged more than the original quote and did sloppy work and nails everywhere. Don't ever hire this company their the worse."
(I've included original misspellings and grammatical errors.)
My client checked in his records and could find no information about this person (granted, the name he left on the review might have been fake). My client was very angry and said he was going to "tell that guy off". I told him to let me reply to the review instead, which was this:
"We cannot find a customer in our records with this name. If there was a problem with our pricing or quality of work for this job, we sincerely apologize and ask that you contact our office as soon as possible so that we can try to rectify this issue."
When the company replies to a review, usually the person who left the review will get an email notification about the reply. My client never did hear back from that "customer", but someone reading the review may have a more positive image about the company due to how the review was handled.
Now here's another negative review left for a different client:
"They suck. Period."
My client's reply:
"well you suck to you piece of crap go get a life you looser"
(Again, I've included original misspellings and grammatical errors.)
Now, which company would you be willing to still do business with despite the negative review?
So what can you do to avoid getting negative reviews? Other than closing up your business, nothing! Obviously provide the best customer service and quality of work possible so that your customers are happy. But you can't make everyone happy, and you can't avoid troublemakers or disgruntled ex-employees or competitors. And obviously removing all of your online listings doesn't make sense, because you need an online presence to get customers. So besides providing exceptional service, the best thing you can do is ask happy customers to leave reviews for you. The more 5-star reviews you get, the less that 1-star review is going to hurt your overall star ranking. If you have no reviews on a website, and someone leaves a 1-star review, your overall star ranking is 1. But if you have four 5-star reviews on that website, and someone leaves a 1-star review, the website will average 5, 5, 5, 5, and 1, so your overall star ranking will be 4.2. Plus, the more positive reviews you have, the less people will care about one or two negative reviews.
But what if you only have a couple of reviews AND they're negative? You need to get that star ranking up by having happy customers leave 5-star reviews, but it's going to take time. If your company gets a bunch of 5-star reviews in a short period of time, such as a matter of days or even weeks, the listing website might end up removing all of those good reviews because it will look suspicious. A good rule of thumb is to have customers leave one positive review every 2 weeks or more. The farther apart the reviews are, the more likely they will look legitimate to the listing website (and people who are reading them). The last thing you want is for prospective customers to think you're making up reviews or having friends leave them.
If you have a lot of negative reviews, however, you should investigate all complaints and find out where your company may be failing. Simply hiding reviews won't help your company if your employees are performing shoddy work or your receptionist is being rude on the phone. Poor customer service or quality of work will eventually bring your company down whether you have negative online reviews or not.
So, instead of scrambling to get good reviews after someone has left you a negative review, start getting those positive reviews posted NOW, to offset any negative reviews you might get in the future. Learn why Customer Reviews are so important for your business, and how to get them.