Should businesses delete bad online reviews?

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February 25, 2017
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Should businesses delete bad online reviews?

Should businesses delete bad online reviews or keep them?

Our business has had a few bad online reviews on social media…can we delete them?

Did you know that according to a 2012 Nielsen survey, the second most trusted recommendation source is online reviews? Yet we know that something like 70% of companies ignore customer complaints in places like Twitter. [Convince & Convert] Even further, one study found that 83% of those who complained online ‘liked or loved’ when the company under fire took the time to respond to the complaint. But does a good or bad review impact your bottom line? Researchers at Wharton believe so. “Under the right circumstances, a company that showcases reviews from a consumer’s social groups that may include dissimilar product preferences will actually yield the highest profitability.”

Here’s the thing: people can say whatever they want about your business, anywhere, at any time. And unless you’ve got sophisticated listening software, you’ll probably never know about it. Wouldn’t you like to have the chance to participate in the conversation? Before we jump into whether you should be deleting reviews or not (and if that’s all you’re here for scroll to the bottom) we’ll discuss the following:

  • Why are reviews important?
  • How can businesses handle good, bad or fake reviews?
  • Where should we start?

Why are reviews important?

  • Street Cred. Social proof is really important as most people read reviews before making purchases.
  • Can help with buying decisions & potential for increased sales. When people see reviews – and not just glowing ones – they show potential clients what you’re like to deal with as a business and they may be more likely to buy.
  • Learn insights and better serve customers. Imagine if you had no idea that most clients were being put on hold 20+ minutes and only learn via a review. It could be the chance to consider hiring additional help.
  • Build Loyalty, Trust, Transparency. Keeping all your reviews public can build and strengthen trust.
  • Let your consumers help you market your products or services. Is there a better way to market your products beyond the word of your own customers?
  • Connect with clients. If you get a great review, thank them. If you get a bad review, thank them. Remember school report cards? Reviews give you the chance to show your human side; improve & show good will.
  • Improve rankings + SEO This one is debatable. But if you’re plugged into the Google machine, it may not be a bad thing for your rankings.

Embracing reviews allows us to hear what people really think about us and gives us the opportunity to make positive changes to our products and services. We get it. Reviews are scary; they put us in a vulnerable position. They give customers & clients a platform to tell the world whether we’re good or bad at our chosen service (and/or product.) But you’ve got the choice to acknowledge and embrace feedback from customers in order to have a chance at keeping them customers. (Typically people will look at the best/worst reviews and make a decision. But imagine the impression they would have if they see that you personally respond to each & every review?!)

How to handle good, bad and fake reviews

  • Don’t retaliate. No one likes to get critical feedback, especially when it may get personal. But take the high road. Cool down. Think about appropriate responses. (Remember: you’re response will be available for the world to see – you don’t want to be part of a viral story.)
  • Acknowledge it. Ignoring, deleting or fighting reviewers will not make them go away and it’s not going to get you the results you want. – you’re going to make an already-disgruntled customer simply more frustrated, essentially telling them you don’t care about their feedback.
  • Don’t let it escalate. Some people will get creative when they feel they haven’t been heard by a company; they will take their comments to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and any other social media site to make sure they’re heard (and even gain support!)
  • Do not delete it. When you delete a review you run the risk of making an already-disgruntled customer more frustrated. However, if it violates the TOS (Terms Of Service)  This is where they list all the things they allow and don’t allow in their reviews.If a review is a personal attack on an employee, defamatory, derogatory or attacks a person based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion or other factors, you can have their reviews removed.
  • Take if offline. Work to take the commentary offline as quickly as possible.
  • Offer to contact them directly. Nothing is more irritating than being asked to call a 1-800 number to get customer service after leaving a review. When connecting with the reviewer offer to reach them using a method most convenient for them. (e.g.: email, phone, social etc.)
  • Don’t forget to thank them. Whether the feedback is good or bad, don’t forget to thank them for it.

EXAMPLES of how to respond

Where to start

  • Get your company signed up for Google, Yelp and other review sites.
  • Acknowledge & respond to every complaint, in every channel, every time. (Both positive & negative.)
  • If the reviews are legitimate, make necessary changes & follow up.
  • Learn from reviews/complaints. Share with your employees.

Bottom line: if we’re offering something that isn’t ‘up-to-snuff’ and/or what we promised and we get negative reviews, deleting them is a complete disservice. Deleting reviews won’t change the fact that the service is disappointing.

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Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.