The Best Ways to Handle a Negative Review of Your Business – PCMag

The Best Ways to Handle a Negative Review of Your Business – PCMag

Most businesses don't respond to online reviews, but that's a mistake. Paying attention to a negative review pays dividends both for your online reputation and your site's SEO ranking.
I’ve covered business technology for more than 25 years, and in that time I’ve reviewed hundreds of products and services and written a similar number of trend and analysis stories. My first job in journalism was with PC Magazine in the 1990s, but I’ve also written for other enterprise technology publications, including Computer ShopperInformationWeek, InfoWorld, and InternetWeek.
Whether you’re an e-commerce operation or out in the brick-and-mortar world, customer reviews on the web are a fact of life. That’s important, because those reviews pack a big punch with consumers, and that wallop is growing stronger.
According to a study(Opens in a new window) from Power Reviews(Opens in a new window), around 99.9% of consumers say they read reviews when shopping online. And more than half of them say they read those reviews while they’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Finally, 98% of consumers think that an online review is an essential resource for making any kind of purchasing decision. That’s great when all your reviews are rosy—but what do you do if some of them are negative?
According to another study(Opens in a new window) conducted by Best SEO Companies(Opens in a new window), most businesses find that responding privately to a negative review is the best way to interact with an irate customer, and 41% use an outsourced reputation manager to handle that outreach. Another 44% said they’d managed to turn a negative review into a positive one, but their methods varied.
Of the survey’s 511 respondents, the most popular method was to offer a refund or a credit, with 61% leaning in that direction (respondents could choose more than one method). Another 50% agreed that some kind of incentive was the best tactic, whether a credit, a refund, or something else. But the other 50% said sending a polite counterpoint was their preferred method, and 48% felt that a little apologetic groveling and asking for another chance was most effective. Only 6% thought that ignoring an online review was the best path.
In case you’re wondering how to find reviews of your business, the survey showed that it takes some grunt work—62% of managers saying they manually searched for reviews about once a month, 25% weekly, and 10% every day. The most popular sites those managers used to look for reviews were Google (33%) and Facebook (22%).
While the numbers in the Power Reviews study certainly underlined the importance of online reviews to consumers, the Best SEO Companies survey showed those reviews are important to business marketers, too. But respondents said they were most likely to respond to in-person reviews (73%) and also those arriving via phone calls (69%) and email (67%). Only 51% said they’d respond to a social media review, and just 44% said the same of a Google review.
That’s not surprising, since over one-third of companies don’t realize that an unfavorable review can have a negative impact on your online reputation and even your SEO. Sixty-three percent of Best SEO Companies‘ respondents thought only positive reviews counted that way, and 28% thought reviews had no impact at all. Both those conclusions are wrong, which makes it a problem that 36% of survey respondents said they didn’t have a staffer dedicated to handling online reviews—not even an SEO marketer.
The Google algorithm may be mysterious, but its impact on your online bottom line can be massive. And it matches every review it can find against your business’ URL and partially ranks you using a ratio of positive to negative reviews. That means small businesses especially need to spend some time finding and responding to negative online comments or risk a drop in their Google placement. Fortunately, that’s become easier now that both customer relationship management (CRM) apps and general marketing automation tools often include online reputation management features.
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I’ve covered business technology for more than 25 years, and in that time I’ve reviewed hundreds of products and services and written a similar number of trend and analysis stories. My first job in journalism was with PC Magazine in the 1990s, but I’ve also written for other enterprise technology publications, including Computer ShopperInformationWeek, InfoWorld, and InternetWeek.
Between stints as a journalist, I’ve worked as an IT consultant, software development manager, and marketing executive for several companies, including Microsoft, where I was a senior technical product manager for Windows Server. My focus is on business tech reviews at PCMag, but you can also find me co-hosting This Week in Enterprise Tech on the TWiT.tv network.
Read Oliver’s full bio
PCMag.com is a leading authority on technology, delivering lab-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
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