Small Business Playbook for Review Management

Understanding and Managing Online Reviews: A Guide for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, you’re likely aware of the significant impact online reviews can have on your business. In today’s digital age, platforms like Google, TripAdvisor, and Yelp are often the first places potential customers go to gauge the quality of your products or services. But what do you do when faced with negative reviews? Should negative reviews be treated differently than positive reviews? Let’s dive in.

Can Negative Reviews Be Removed?

The short answer is no. Major review platforms like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor do not allow the removal of negative reviews unless they violate the site’s terms of service, such as containing profanity or libelous content. It’s crucial to recognize that these platforms are built on the credibility of honest, untainted reviews. Any attempts to manipulate reviews, such as writing false reviews or paying for positive ones, can lead to severe consequences, including being blacklisted.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

While you can’t remove negative reviews, you can manage them effectively. The key is not to be reactive but responsive. Engaging with both positive and negative reviews shows that you value customer feedback and are committed to improving your service. 

When responding to negative reviews:

  • Stay Calm and Professional: Avoid defensive reactions. Acknowledge the customer’s experience and offer a sincere apology.
  • Offer Solutions: Whether it’s a refund, a discount on future services, or a promise to address the issue internally, show that you’re willing to rectify the situation.
  • Ask Questions: If a review seems to contain false information, ask clarifying questions. This approach shows you’re attentive and committed to resolving any misunderstandings.

What if it Escalates?

Not everyone will be logical in their responses to online reviews. Whether the reviewer sees themselves as unconditionally correct or simply is looking to argue—take it offline. 

Start by inviting them to call your office or email you directly. Don’t give them a general phone number or a sales@ email address. Make it personal. Show how much every customer experience means to you.

Why You Must Respond to Positive Reviews, Too!

Since negative reviews can’t be removed, one effective strategy is to encourage more positive reviews. This doesn’t mean fabricating reviews but rather encouraging satisfied customers to share their experiences. The more positive reviews you have, the less impact a negative review will have.

Proactive Review Management is Key to Success 

Being proactive in managing your online reputation is crucial. Regularly monitor your reviews and respond promptly. This not only helps in managing negative reviews but also in building a positive online presence. Remember, a well-managed online reputation can turn a potential crisis into an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

How to Write a Great Review Response

Did you know your Google reviews and their responses carry as much weight as your website’s technical SEO? We put together a simple, step by step process to write review responses that make a difference. Simply click below.

Doing Nothing Makes It Worse!

While you can’t remove negative reviews, you can mitigate their impact through thoughtful, professional responses and by encouraging more positive reviews. Remember, every review, good or bad, is an opportunity to improve your business and strengthen your relationship with your customers. As a small business owner, embracing this approach can turn the challenge of online reviews into a powerful tool for growth and customer loyalty.

Learn More About Online Reputation Management

No one can guarantee bad reviews will disappear, but you can certainly impact the attitudes of those reading the reviews by acknowledging, thanking, and responding to reviews, especially the good ones!

We’ve compiled several links for additional reading. 

Google Local (Google Reviews)