What’s the Best Way to Deal with a Negative Review?

Here’s what Flagship Restaurant Group – a Reputology customer – told FSR Magazine how they handle their negative reviews:

[Flagship] responds to negative comments with a public response on the review site, so anyone reading the review sees that the issue has been addressed. “We keep it short and sweet, and make a mention that we will reach out privately to the disgruntled customer,” says Longo. “We also have a lot of back and forth internal conversation. We’ll talk with the location’s general manager. If it’s about the food, we’ll also talk to the chef.”

Flagship makes sure to follow-up with the guest. “We don’t assume the issue will just disappear,” says Longo. “We always try and make it right for that guest.”

The unhappy customer is sent a gift card, and after the restaurant visit, Flagship reaches out again. “Nine out of ten will have a better experience, and will amend, edit, or delete the review.”

(Or if you do want to take our word for it, here’s how we answered a similar question on Quora).

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How to Get Positive Reviews on Tripadvisor?

Someone on Quora asked about techniques for having a successful listing on Tripadvisor, and the key is to improve your guests’ ratings.  Here’s a repost of our answer:

Here are some specific techniques that a hotelier in Miami had used to improve their reviews, search ranking, and ultimately sales in 2013:

  1. Tripadvisor Comment Cards.  They targeted happy guests and asked for their feedback using these cards [replacing their normal comment cards].
  2. Offer incentives to your staff.  Nothing extravagant.  They awarded small cash prizes to individuals who got mentioned the most in reviews and threw a pizza party for the team that totaled the most.
  3. Respond quickly to negative reviews.  A number of Reputology customers have told us that they can get unhappy reviewers to change their mind about 7 out of 10 times by responding quickly and professionally.  Showing customers that a business cares what they think goes a long way.  Go fig. [For tips on how to respond to reviews, check out this other Quora post here].

The end result?  This hotelier was able to rank from the 50th position to the mid-teens.  Not too shabby. 🙂

How to Remove A Negative Yelp Review?

You don’t have a delete button to get rid of a negative Yelp review, but you’ve got some options:

Respond Quickly
If you think a reviewer can be reasoned with, respond to his grievances promptly and professionally. If you take the time to make things right, you have a very good chance of getting an unhappy reviewer to change his mind.

“Nine out of ten will have a better experience, and will amend, edit, or delete the review,” according to Flagship Restaurant Group (FSR Magazine). 

Dealing with a potentially angry customer can be a delicate process, and people are far more aggressive behind the keyboard. So when you do respond, stay calm, listen, be direct and follow through. Click here for more tips on how to respond to a negative Yelp review.

Bury It
Prospective customers will have a tougher time focusing on a negative review if positive ones overshadow it.  Here are some tips on how to get positive reviews on Yelp.

UPDATE: Burying reviews by soliciting for positive ones is a big no-no.  In fact, it is against Yelp’s terms of service to ask for any reviews.

Flag It
A negative review may be in violation of Yelp’s Content Guidelines. In that case, you can flag the review to alert Yelp administrators. Such reviews may include slurs, comments on anything that is not relevant to the business, or explicit statements that their review is a second-hand experience. If the review violates Yelp’s guidelines, it will be deleted in three to five business days. But keep in mind that flagging a reviews is no guarantee that the review will be removed. Removal is Yelp’s discretion.

Sue? 😐
Your final option is a lawsuit. (Cue “Law & Order” gavel). If a comment is a blatant lie that is slandering your business, you may have a case. A Yelper in 2011 was found guilty of defamation after posting a scathing review on a contractor’s Yelp page. So it can work. But of course, it’s a lawsuit, i.e. very time consuming and costly with no guarantees you’ll win.