From reviewing a product on Amazon and leaving a customer experience post on Yelp, to placing an employee review on Glassdoor, there are plenty of opportunities for people to vocalize their experiences with companies.  However, when it comes to company growth, good and bad reviews can make or break a business.  According to the 2019 study by Ranstad US on technology and the employee experience, “two out of three (66%) managers don’t think negative online employer reviews significantly impact their ability to recruit top candidates, but over half (57%) of employees say they won’t even apply to a company with negative reviews.”  So, this begs the question, how should businesses combat negative reviews?

Making Negative Reviews a Business Priority

When it comes to negative reviews, there is a right and wrong way to respond.  First, not responding shouldn’t be an option, because it shows review readers that a company doesn’t care enough to address the issue.  Potential job candidates are looking at how businesses respond to conflict, and so are potential customers.  Second, responses must be done in a professional manner.  The last thing a company wants is to respond in a way that escalates a negative situation and gives more attention than a single negative review deserves.  As a result, responding to negative reviews and encouraging people to post positive ones should be a priority for all businesses.

1) Be Responsive and Timely

Because no business is perfect, some negative reviews are generally unavoidable.  No matter how many you receive, you should take a humble approach and focus on how you can improve your company, to reduce the number of negative reviews in the future.  Responding to these reviews with positivity and humility demonstrates that a you are genuinely concerned with your performance and care about your customers and employees.  According to the most current version of Glassdoor’s FAQ on responding to negative reviews, “62% of job seekers say their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review.”  It is imperative to note that businesses should not respond with defensiveness, aggression, or in a manner that points fingers.  Starting arguments is counterproductive, and, in the end, may do more harm to your businesses’ reputation than the original review.  Instead, it’s important to ask questions and invite open communication to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it.

2) Suppress Negative Reviews

Fatbit Technology’s definition of suppression is:  “pushing down negative reviews on search engine result pages in an effort to highlight and improve the visibility of positive ones…”  This is ideal for those pesky, outdated, lingering reviews and is best applied after using method 1.

There are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to suppression and outranking old reviews.  Do create authority.  Having authority means that new content can outrank the old.  Moz Pro’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO states that this can be accomplished by, “earning links from authoritative websites, building your brand, and nurturing an audience who will help amplify your content.”

With employees, it is important that businesses first acknowledge the issue before responding externally to show they care.  Otherwise, it would seem like businesses are just trying to hide their reviews.  Current, positive employee reviews are also a good way to push down the old reviews.  However, don’t pressure your employees into filling out good reviews for you.  It is not their job to polish your business’ reputation, and this could ultimately lead to conflict.  It’s important that businesses empower their employees to leave fair and honest reviews.  This means being transparent and open to criticism.  While being critiqued may sound like an issue, it can also provide the feedback that helps resolve these problems.  For the most part, suppression is about creating and promoting quality content that outranks negative reviews.

 

3) Delete Negative Reviews

Lastly, deletion, defined by Fatbit Technology, is:  “The permanent removal of bad links that sabotage a brand’s reputation.”  While this may seem like a good option, it should really only be used as a last resort.  Deleting negative reviews without addressing the problem won’t give businesses feedback or an opportunity to learn. Deletion is also tricky and costly.  A quick phone call with Guaranteed Removals showed that each negative review cost about $1,500 to remove.

Another area to consider is that to remove negative reviews, businesses must have permission from the publisher.  According to Glassdoor, they do not remove negative reviews unless there are legal reasons to remove them.

Advice from Social Media Expert, Jessica Light

Jessica Light is a social media expert at JJ Social Light who specializes in digital marketing for business growth.  During a recent interview, she offered additional strategies for managing negative reviews:

  • First, the best method for getting rid of bad reviews will depend on the platform.  Review platforms all have different standards for the removal of reviews.  However, when people leave false reviews, meaning that the review that was left is false, or left by someone who is not a customer or employee, the review can be flagged and disputed.  On the other hand, a customer review cannot be deleted if they did have an interaction with your business, such as a poor call interpretation. This means you may think the call with a client went well but they did not see it that way and maybe said some comments that you don’t believe are true.  Even if the customer review is an incorrect portrayal of their interaction with your business, you cannot dispute it.  In that case, Jessica’s next suggested steps would be suppressing negative reviews by burying them.
  • When it comes to asking for employee reviews, Jessica recommends that businesses should use review management platforms.  These are platforms that autogenerate messages that ask about employee experiences. When an employee wants to leave a good review, it will give them an option of platforms to leave it on.  When an employee wants to leave a bad review, they will not have the option to leave the review on a platform, but instead submit a review that is emailed to the business.  There are several platforms for doing this such as Bamboo HR and Culture Amp, that leave room for the development of platforms specifically for businesses and employees.
  • Another important recommendation before seeking reviews is to get a pulse from your audience.  This means sending out an internal, anonymous survey to employees.  When doing this, businesses can get a sense of employee feedback before going public. Doing this annually could potentially protect them from a hoard of bad reviews.
  • Finally, Jessica says that Google My Business is a good platform to leave reviews on for two reasons.  First is that Google is one of the top search engines, and people will see it.  Second, even though Google My Business isn’t specifically made for employee reviews, it is good for customers to see that companies are treating their employees well. So, for employees and customers who want to leave positive reviews, directing them to Google My Business is a good option.

Jessica agrees that deletion should be the last option.  It is expensive and isn’t ever guaranteed.  And while it makes sense to delete a scathing review, Jessica argues that bad reviews can also be surprisingly beneficial.  Her reasoning is that it shows a company’s humanity.  For example, when you see something on Amazon that has over 1,000 five star reviews, it almost seems too good to be true.  Being responsive to negative reviews will show that while a business might not be perfect, it cares about its customers.

Making Cultural Shifts to Reduce Negative Reviews Overall

At the end of the day, all of these measures will fall short if they aren’t coupled with an honest, internal, cultural review process, and business improvement strategies to reduce instances of negative reviews in the future. In this context, businesses must start at the root cause and look into leadership and change management practices, which will be discussed in part 2.

 

Need Help?

Are you looking for a strategy for managing your digital reputation? Contact Appos Advisors at info@apposadvisors.com with your needs.

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