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Businesses now understand the power of the internet and how a bad review can impact their customers’ decision making. Research shows that 72 percent of customers do not make buying decisions before reading reviews. According to Spiegel, 95 percent of customers also read reviews to determine the quality of products and services being offered by businesses.

However, getting negative reviews is inevitable and most businesses realize that at some point, they will have to deal with negative publicity due to negative reviews left on their business. The goals for smart businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises, are now shifting from preventing getting these types of reviews at all cost and realizing that these negative reviews can be helpful to their business.

How exactly are negative reviews good for a business?

For clarity, businesses should always offer quality services and products that do not result in clients leaving bad reviews. Businesses should also understand that there are two types of negative customer reviews, and in both, they should be handled differently:

  1. Critical negative reviews: These are customers who have actually been to a business, bought a product from a business, or used a service offered by a business and were not satisfied with what they got. These types of reviews are written by concerned customers as a warning to other customers. Customers who post such reviews are also able to document their experience with the business and what they did not like about the business.

  2. Troll negative reviews: These reviews are given by people who, most likely have never bought a product or service from a business. These reviewers’ primary goal is to create as much publicity as they can. These types of reviews are also posted by competitors looking to gain an edge over their rivals.

Negative reviews on a business or products being sold offer worst-case scenarios for customers. In fact, research that was published on the power of reviews showed that 82 percent of customers seek out negative reviews on a product to help them make informed a more informed decision before making a purchasing decision.

Customers are also looking for authenticity and trustworthiness in a brand, and while it is true that having many negative reviews on your product can result on average 40 percent of potential buyers reconsidering their decisions according to BrightLocal, it is also true that customers are suspicious about ratings that have no negative reviews according to research.

Therefore, negative online reviews are double-edged swords and if a business is smart about its approach to online negative reviews, They can end up being more beneficial to businesses than they are hurtful.
It is important to note that only critical reviews are good for both businesses and customers because they offer insights based on experience. Troll negative reviews, however, are bad for businesses because they come in bulk, with the sole purpose of destroying the reputation of a business.

Responding to negative reviews

Smart businesses expect to receive negative reviews during the course of their operations. They understand that it is part of the process of customer relations. They also understand that how they respond to negative reviews is also as important as receiving negative reviews. This is because, these responses will also be available to prospective clients looking at the negative reviews, and they can be able to tell them their side of the story, give an update about what happened with the reviewer, or how they have since improved the services.

It is important to note that this section will address critical negative reviews that involve genuine clients who have used a product or service.

  1. Be genuine while responding to criticism

    Customers expect a genuine response and taking responsibility for what went wrong with the products or services your business offered. Businesses are not supposed to be defensive or confrontational while addressing these concerns. They should listen to what clients have to say and respond based on facts in that case by either offering apology, refund, or explaining their side of the story tactfully.

  2. Gather information about each bad review

    Before responding to a negative review, make sure you have all the facts about the case such as why the customer left the negative review, what made them angry and frustrated about the products and services they received, the customer’s previous history with your business and who concerned people in the client’s complaint. This will enable you to respond tactfully and satisfactory to the client and future potential clients who will see the review.

  3. Post a public response

    It is important to leave a public response to all your negative reviews, especially if you are a small business. This is to avoid your future potential clients from making decisions based on these negative reviews without your side of the story.

  4. Reach out privately to clients who posted private reviews

    As a business, you should reach out privately to these clients and try to see how you can help them, or at least offer a thoughtful response about their negative experience on your establishment. It is not recommended to use a public forum for personal engagement with your clients that includes going into details about what happened between your business and the reviewers.

  5. Take action to resolve negative reviews

    As a business, reach out to these clients and make the situation better. An apology for their experience may not be enough to change their review but research has shown that 70 percent of clients who leave a negative review, their concerns are solved after the review end up doing business with these establishments again.

Handling Troll negative reviews

These reviews are targeted to businesses or products to target their reputation. They are mostly made by people who have no prior experience with the products or a business.

Customers reading these reviews have no idea that they might not be true and end up making decisions based on biased reviews.

Therefore, businesses need to have a clear plan on how to handle the trolls because they are not genuine and give misinformation to potential clients with an aim of destroying the reputations of businesses or products. Here are some steps businesses can take to deal with trolls.

  1. Contact review sites and ask them to remove troll reviews

    Troll reviews come in bulk and within a very short time. Established businesses can be able to prove that a sharp increase in negative reviews are not genuine by showcasing consistency over the years and giving timelines on when the negative reviews started. After a review, troll and fake reviews may be removed. Google and others, however, has recently stopped removing reviews in all but very extreme cases without court order, so your options may be limited.

  2. Address false claims

    Businesses should also take steps in addressing the false claims being made. This can be as easy as pointing out flaws in their narrative and why the reviews are fake.

  3. Lawsuits

    Troll companies and competitors may be behind the numerous fake reviews your business may be receiving. If confirmed, your only recourse may be to take it a step further and sue them for the damages, and force them to remove the fake reviews.