How To Respond To Negative Reviews On Google And Other Online Platforms
It's never a good feeling to get a negative review on Google, Facebook, or any other online platform. It is especially not fun when it becomes a review scam or extortion. Recently, one of our clients had gone through one of these, and with our help was able to come out on top from this stressful situation.
What Is Review Blackmail And How To Respond
A fake review or blackmail review is where an upset client or customer tries to extort something out of the business that they are reviewing, by threatening to post more negative reviews. They will usually do this by trying to get their friends to gang up on the brand and give 1 star reviews one after another. Or, in another case, may try to make multiple accounts with fake email addresses to give 1 star reviews one after another. In this example, we are using the Google Reviews platform to see how this company responds to scams like this and how a brand can respond.
How Does Google Respond To Removing Reviews?
When you see a situation that starts to bring on multiple 1 star reviews from customers who have never used your service, it's important to flag them to Google or whatever platform you are working on. It's also important to note that you should not flag a 1 star review just because you disagree with it. The review itself has to violate the policies of Google reviews.
How A Brand Can Respond To These Situations
A brand can respond to these situations in multiple ways. Before going into any of them, it's important to act from a standpoint of clarity and reason. It's easy to get swept away by emotions, especially if you are the business owner who provides the product/service. For businesses that receive a manageable amount of reviews daily, it's important to respond to them. Google has guidelines on how to respond to reviews. Usually if the reviewer leaves a 4 or 5 star review, it's important to thank them for this. For 3 star reviews, its important to let them know that you are looking to improve your service. And for 1 and 2 star reviews, it's important to reach out to see what you can do.
If the review is part of a scam or is fake though, you can take the following actions:
Flag The Reviews For Abuse
Flagging the review for abuse causes Google's system to take it through the automation process of determining if it violates one or more of their policies. If Google's system does find that the review is a violation, then the review will automatically be removed. Some violations are more difficult to verify though, so you may have to reach out to a Google representative to see what can be done. In the case of scams or fraudulent reviews, it's difficult for their system (and even a Google rep) to determine if this review is accurate or not. There is a chance that the review(s) will remain.
Comment On The Review
If Google cannot remove the reviews, you can comment on the review(s) letting others know that this is part of a scam or fraudulent. It is best to have a specific script in mind for an easy copy and paste. Remember to be professional and to keep your response to the point. Do not attack the reviewer, instead state that this review is part of a fraud. Other users will see your comment and see that the brand has tried to reason with this person. This creates a positive view of your brand showing professionalism and your future customers will see that.
Reach Out To The Person Directly
If someone is very displeased with your business and left a detailed review, it's important to reach out to them to see what can be done. If they have already escalated the situation by getting their friends to write 1 star reviews, then you can offer a refund if these reviews are removed or changed to 5 star reviews. Remember to try to remove emotions from your side, apologize, and be open to what can be done. If the person(s) prove to be unreasonable, then your best course of action would be to comment on the reviews saying that they are fraudulent /a scam, and then move on to your other customers. You can even ask your happy customers to leave you a review if they haven't done so already—they will help push down the blackmail review.
The most important take away from this article is to have a plan in place if or when you get a negative review. Act appropriately, and then also limit the amount of time you spend with the negative review or person. You want to keep nurturing the positive relationships you have with your other clients/customers who are paying you.
If you need guidance on how to respond to reviews or come up with a script, we are here to help! Contact us today so you are prepared!