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A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

1.

Where to start?

Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

2.

This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

3.

As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

…and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

Happy review reading, everyone!

Relaxation Techniques for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

zenWe talk a lot about the dos and don’ts when it comes to responding to negative reviews, and we always stress the importance of keeping your cool. Today, we’re going to take that advice one step further by providing you with a few relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to keep you level-headed when faced with a scathing review. Follow this advice from LinkNow Media and you can’t go wrong.

Mindfulness app

Stop, Breathe & Think is a guided meditation and mindfulness app that offers breathing techniques with the aim of assisting you in broadening your perspective, getting in touch with your emotions, and improving your reactions to stressful situations. Many of the exercises can be performed in under 10 minutes, so not having time is no excuse! When practiced regularly, this app can help reduce anxiety, increase compassion and enhance motivation. It has everything you need to respond to an unfavourable opinion about your business in a calm manner.

Inhale pink, exhale blue

Inhale pink, exhale blue is a breathing exercise that can regulate stress, relieve tension and improve your mood. This breathing exercise is practiced by bringing your awareness to your breath and imagining yourself inhaling pink and exhaling blue. Another variation of this exercise involves inhaling love and exhaling fear. Whichever one you choose, this awareness will help bring you to the present moment, which is integral to managing the emotional distress of whatever is front of you—in this case, harsh words about your service or product.

Stretch, stretch, stretch

Most people associate stretching with warming up or cooling down after physical exercise as a way improve flexibility and prevent injury. However, stretching can also do wonders for the mind too. This is because stretching regulates your heart rate and blood pressure, helping to promote mental calmness, which is key when it comes to responding to a negative review. Here you can find a handful of yoga poses and stretches that you can do at your work desk. Or, just simply touch your toes. Even something as small as this can help improve your mood to assist you in responding to a negative review without getting defensive.

Final Thoughts

Getting a negative review on Yelp or any other customer review website is never fun. If you are like most people, your response might be to go on the defense, but you need to find ways to avoid doing that. Being defensive isn’t going to help right a wrong, and it certainly won’t win over someone who is upset about your service. When it comes to fixing the problem, you need to remain calm. Exercises like the ones above can help with that, but you’ll need to practice them consistently.

Have you had any success with practices of nature? If so, have they helped other areas of your work life? At LinkNow Media, we’d love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments section below

How Small Businesses Should Respond to Negative Reviews

ferris wheel

When someone leaves a negative review, DON’T PANIC!

There are two reason not to panic:

  • There is probably something you can do to better the situation
  • Everyone is going to have a couple of bad reviews. You could have had a tough customer or it is possible that you made a mistake. You’re only human. However, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and do nothing.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Focus on what the person is concerned about. It may seem completely irrational but you have to remember that the customer needs to be taken seriously. Is it because of something that your company did or did not do? Is it because they did not read the fine print? Take notes.
  • Talk with your team to see what went wrong and why. Was there a misstep or are you dealing with a customer that expected more than you could deliver?
  • When you write a response, make it clear that you hear what they are saying and that you empathize with their situation.
  • Apologize and make sure it is sincere.
  • If you can make amends, then resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t try to defend yourself. It is great in a court of law but what customers want to see is how you resolve problems.
  • Write what you want to say first and then have someone else read it or give it a night and go back to it.

If You Made a Mistake

Own up to it in the response. What most people are looking for in a company is honesty. If you can show that you made an honest mistake and are willing to take steps to fix it, you will regain the trust of potential clients that read the review. This will also give you an opportunity for the client in question to give you a better review.

Make sure to keep a professional tone at all times. If you wish to go into a detailed explanation then try to do so with the client privately first. Explanations can take a lot of back and forth and since you don’t know how the customer will respond it is best to do it through email or in person.

If You Did Not Make a Mistake

It is sad to say but just as there are companies out there that cheat their customers, there are also people who try to blackmail companies into getting free services by using or threatening bad reviews.

In this case, you may just have to face the situation. They are someone who cannot be reasoned with and they just want something for nothing.  To prevent this in the future it may be a good idea to document the work you perform so you can provide a response with evidence at their accusation.  Though these proofs are best done privately through email.

Of course, be professional about it and attempt a response online as well. As long as you come off as being professional then some people who see the review will not automatically believe you are in the wrong.

In the worst-case scenario, you may have to give them something for free but that is up to your discretion.

Contact the company that the review is posted on. There may be able to remove the review if it is vilifying or defamatory.

Concentrate on Getting Positive Reviews

Make sure to ask your clients that appreciate your service to give a review on different platforms. After a job has been completed, perform call backs a while later to see that they are still satisfied. That is a great opportunity to ask for a positive review.

With enough effort, you can start to drown out the negative reviews and get yourself back on track.

There Is a Positive to This Negative

Consumers are becoming savvier with online review sites. If they see that accompany has only 5 and 4 star reviews they may become suspicious that all the comments are manufactured rather than genuine. Having a few bad ones balances out the situation and gives people the impression that you are professionals but also people.

The Customer Is Always Right, Right? Advice for Small Businesses

teacupsLinkNow Media has written about ways of responding to negative reviews before. We’ve shown you how to handle negative reviews, and how to use positive reviews to boost your brand. Today, we’re going to take it one step further to help you understand the process and the value of analyzing your customer reviews. We’ve all heard the age old adage that “the customer is always right”, and through the careful consideration of customer feedback, you’ll see that this is true in more ways than one. Not only is it the go-to model for good customer service, it’s also the best way to approach customer reviews, negative or positive.

ABC: Always Be Changing

A stagnant business is a failing business. If you’re not consistently changing your business model to better serve your customers, your customers are heading to your competitors. This is where analysis of your reviews can be integral to success. Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be great to have a helpful coach in real time telling you what and how you could improve your business? If you approach feedback not as either congratulation or denigration, but as a roadmap to help you get where you want to go, then you’ve tapped into a very powerful resource. There are a few simple how-to’s online that can help you create a system to harness this new found resource. We recommend taking a look at this post on analyzing from CSM.

Learn From Mistakes

It’s Fine to Celebrate Success But it is More Important to Heed the Lessons of Failure.” This quote from Bill Gates is the perfect way to summarize why paying attention to customer reviews is important. Learning from your failures keeps your company moving forward and maximizing growth. That being said, it’s equally important to play to your strengths. If you notice throughout your analysis of customer reviews that you’re hearing the same things repeated in every positive review, work with that information to better market your services. You don’t want your slogan to be about speed if every bad review of your service cites long wait times, that kind of inconsistency can damage your credibility. On the other hand, if you notice that customers are responding positively to how simple it is to access your services, than focus on marketing your company as customer friendly. This doesn’t mean you get to stop implementing plans to improve on your weaknesses, but it does mean that sometimes it pays to keep on the sunny side.

These are all very simplified ideas regarding customer review analysis, but once you start critically engaging with your audience it will open up a lot of doors for your business. There are a lot of resources available to help you move forward with more advanced analytics of feedback. But today at LinkNow Media, we hope we’ve at least got you thinking, let us know in the comments below!

3 Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

hot airAs long as there are reviews, there will be negative reviews. Read up on all the tips you want about responding to harsh criticism, but you’ll still be at a loss for words when someone is badmouthing your business and staff. It never hurts to read a blog like this one for a refreshment on appropriate ways to respond to negativity. The last thing you want to do is call over your coworkers to show them the outrageous claims some crazy person made (because let’s face it, it sometimes feels that way). That will only deepen your rage, and kill the mood in the workplace. Instead, take a deep breath and respond with these points in mind:

Use the phrase “I hear you.”

Businesses don’t become successful because they get it right the first time. Success is achieved when businesses face their problems and find appropriate resolutions. Don’t let a negative comment get you down. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to highlight how committed you are to making things right for your clients. If your knee-jerk reaction is to jump right into justification, you are essentially saying that you know better than them. Instead, think over what they’re saying. Look at where they’re coming from. Let them know you hear them, and offer an apology if necessary. The bottom line is that people want to be heard, so listen. By doing so, you show that you value your customer’s feedback, even if negative.

Address the customer by name

All reviews deserve to be handled with care, even negative ones. If you continuously use the same framework for addressing negative reviews, you run the risk of leaving a cookie-cutter response. Every customer is different, and each problem must be addressed individually. One way to connect personally with unsatisfied customer is by using the customer’s name in your response. Addressing someone by name is a form of flattery. As author, Dale Carnegie stated, in his 1936 novel, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Keep this principle in mind when addressing an unsatisfied customer. It’s an effective way to engage with someone who is ticked off. Just remember to check your spelling before hitting reply.

Ask a question

Most the time, issues between a customer and a business owner are due to a miscommunication or misunderstanding. One way to clear up confusion is by asking a question. By asking a question, you are calling attention to the problem in an indirect, unconfrontational manner. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, and have a customer who is unhappy about the hour wait time for a table, ask if they had made a reservation, and inform them of your reservation policy. Or, ask when they arrived, and provide them with alternative time when it might be less busy. Always look for the opportunity to ask a question. This helps to avoid the conversation from getting into he said/she said territory, and creates an open dialogue.

Closing

At LinkNow Media, we’ve looked at ways of responding to negative reviews in the past, and are likely to revisit this topic again in the future. We believe that if you can handle the situation competently, you’ll be given another chance.

How to Push Down a Negative Review

pushIn previous posts, we’ve talked about ways you can turn a negative review into an opportunity to show your clients how far you will go to meet their satisfaction. This week we’re offering advice about what to do when individuals share unfavorable opinions about your business on their personal blog or website.

Dealing with A Negative Blogger?

Everyone has something on the internet they wish would disappear. You can get on your knees and plead to Google all you want to remove the article from search results, but unless legal action is warranted, it is very unlikely that Google will remove the post. Of course, you always have the option of calling whoever wrote the review and explain your side of the story, but the chances of them taking it down are slim to nothing. You also run the risk of opening an old wound and making matters worse. That’s the last thing you want to happen.

If you can’t remove it, MOVE IT!

Most people do not go past the first page of Google’s search results when searching for a product or service, so getting the negative mention to appear on the second or third page is the goal here. This process is called Online Reputation Management (ORM), and it can be done by blogging, link building, citations management, or building a profile on any social media page, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Tumblr. Here are some ORM tips:

Blog Away!

A blog is an effective way to push a negative review to the second page of Google, and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Most industries lend themselves to a few different categories. If you’re an interior designer, for example, you can dedicate one blog to home decorating and another to office furniture trends. You’re only limited by your imagination. Consider using visuals, such as videos, GIFs, and Memes. With content becoming more interactive, your blog needs to engage and entertain your audience. Visuals can make your blog more attractive by breaking up chunks of text and provide visitors with a great experience.

Build Links!

Negative reviews hurt any way you slice it. Unlike review sites, where it’s in your best interest to respond, you’ll need to use a different tactic when it comes to websites and blog posts that are devoted entirely to hurting your business’s reputation. Building links to positive reviews is an effective way to move down an outlandish claim, while at the time shedding light on the good stuff. The last thing you want to do is make any references to the site or blog that contains the negative review, so avoid pointing any links in their direction.

Clean Up Citations!

Citations are mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the internet. It is important that this information is accurate and consistent across the board. Any discrepancy, such as your address appearing differently on Yelp than on Facebook, will cause Google to doubt the validity of your business, thus hurting your ranking. Cleaning up your citations is the process of making sure your NAP is the same across the board. This can be a tedious job, especially if your business is on the older side. If you don’t have time to hunt down this information, team up with a digital marketing company that offers citation management services.

Use Social Media!

Pushing a negative mention from the first page of Google to the second page isn’t going to happen overnight. Outperforming a scathing review takes time and effort. Creating a new social media account can help – but that’s only half of it – you’ll need to post regularly. If you don’t have time to manage your social media pages, you should consider enlisting the help of a social media specialist.

Closing

Harsh criticism is never fun, especially when the attacks are unwarranted. We recommend doing some serious ORM if you want to save face. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be.

3 Ways to Attract Online Customer Reviews

email 2Positive customer reviews are important. How important? Consider this: 88% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. That means what your customers are saying about you online plays a HUGE role in the buying process, for better or worse. The key to getting positive reviews is, well, doing a good a job. It’s that simple. Put your customer first, deliver excellent service, and offer excellent products. Many business owners tend to overthink getting positive reviews and will go to great lengths to get them, even if that means going against Google’s guidelines.

Here are three legitimate ways you can attract online customer reviews:

Make forms easy

People like writing reviews. Whether sharing a good experience or bad experience, a majority of people will take 5 minutes out of their day to let others know if your company is worth their time or money. So, throw them a bone. Make it easy for them. Unless someone has something really bad to say about your company, no one is going spend time looking for a place to write a review. Create profiles wherever you can: Yelp, LinkedIn, Yahoo Local, Google Local, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List. It’s also helpful to integrate a testimonials page on your website. This will allow a customer to leave a review with ease, and it’s a great way to boost your ranking on search listings.

Offer incentives

When it comes to online reviews, you need to be ethical. If you’re a startup, you may be tempted to buy positive online reviews. Quick word of advice: don’t. If your customers can’t spot the fakes, online review sites will. Not only will that cost you your reputation, you’ll also have to pay a hefty fine. Fake reviews are fraud. Why shoot yourself in the foot? Sometimes, all your customer needs is a little push to write a review. Offering an incentive, such as a discount on a future service, can be that extra thing that gets them sharing their thoughts about their experience. If you have a physical storefront hang up posters to let them know about the contest, or you can share it on social media.

Share reviews

Creating a company Facebook page is free and easy –  there is no reason why your business shouldn’t have one. It’s a great way to enhance your brand, share ongoing specials and promotions, and build and maintain relationships with your clientele. It can also be used to share positive reviews. Your customers will love being in the limelight, and their good word will motivate other satisfied customers to follow suit. It’s a win-win.

Closing

Online reviews are the new word of mouth. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely people are to choose your company over local competition. Keep in mind, that you will get a negative review from time to time. That’s life. See it as opportunity to show your clients that you care about your company by finding a solution to their problem.

3 Points to Keep in Mind When Responding to Negative Social Media Comments

3 Points to keep in mind

Social media is a great way to enhance your brand, engage with existing and prospective clients, and broadcast current deals or special offers. Unfortunately, every good thing has a dark side. When clients want to give you a piece of their mind, they turn to Yelp, Facebook, or Twitter. Negative feedback isn’t anything new, but how we respond to criticism has definitely changed.

Respond Quickly

There’s a rule in the dating world that says you should wait at least 15 minutes before texting a love interest back. You don’t want to come across as desperate, after all! Does the same rule apply to relationships with your clients? When it comes to your clients, this strategy is going to do more harm than good. A negative comment with no reply comes across like you don’t care about your customers, and that can seriously damage your reputation.

Respond Directly

Personalization is key when it comes to addressing angry comments. The “we’re sorry to hear you had that experience…” response seems trite, and is only going to further infuriate an already infuriated customer. Harsh criticism is never fun, but it can be an opportunity to show that you care about your customer’s experience and that you will do whatever you can to resolve the issue. Find a solution to THEIR specific problem.

Respond Kindly

Remember, you can’t fight fire with fire. While going on the defense might be your gut reaction, it never makes matters better. You also don’t want to ignore or delete a negative response. Understand where your client is coming from and offer a thoughtful apology. They will be more likely to give you a second chance or write a follow-up explaining how your company fixed their problem.

Closing 

In a perfect world, it would be all positive reviews, rainbows, and unicorns, but negative feedback is a reality. People are more inclined to write a review after a negative experience than a positive one. If you don’t have time to manage your social media accounts, it is worth hiring someone to do that full time.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Companies Online Reviews

How to Get the Most Out of Your Companies Online Reviews by LinkNow Media

Constructive criticism, feedback – every company needs it. It’s a great way to learn, grow, and improve your business. An awesome, but often feared, means of obtaining that kind of helpful feedback is through online reviews. Instead of being afraid of how online reviews might effect business, it’s time for your team to embrace them. Here are several ways you can actually get the most out of your online reviews.

1. Don’t fear the negative review.

A lot of people stay away from online reviews simply because they are scared of receiving a bad review. But the truth of the matter is that most online reviews tend to be positive, not negative. And if you are confident you are offering a good product, there’s really nothing you should be afraid of. But realistically all businesses will have to accept this fact: you will eventually receive a bad review. And that’s okay. In fact, 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they a mix of both good and bad ratings.

The trick is to get as many reviews as possible. Consumers are smarter than marketers often give them credit for. When consumers see a good amount of positive reviews versus one or two negative reviews, they can discern whether those bad reviews were fake or simply isolated situations that don’t reflect what their experience would most likely be like.

2. Make your reviews and your review form easily accessible.

Tests show that brands using online reviews increase their sales as much as 58%, and that 71% of customers are more confident in making purchases after reading those reviews. Making your reviews visible to your customers shows that you are a trustworthy company that has nothing to hide.

Moreover, by making the review form easily available to customers, you are showing you truly value their opinion and want more of it. Companies that demonstrate they are committed to improving usually have more trusting, loyal customers.

3. Don’t just address bad reviews, incorporate them into operations.

When and if you get a negative review, embrace it! You should know that it’s important not to ignore bad reviews; they’re an invaluable opportunity to showcase how caring and responsive your company is. But don’t stop there. After you contact the customer who left the bad review and genuinely try to solve the problem he or she encountered, make sure you address the root of the problem internally.

While hearing something negative about your business might feel like a bad thing at the time, you are actually being given the chance to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business and, most importantly, improve upon them.

Research has shown that 95% of customers continue to do business with a brand they once criticized if issues are handled quickly and competently, but the best business practice would be to avoid the issue in the first place because ultimately what customers really want is hassle free service.

Improving upon your products, services, and customer support based on customer feedback will organically improve your sales and ROI. If you do a good job at responding to these issues, you will not only win back once unhappy customers, you will also gain more customers who witness and respect your excellent customer satisfaction skills.

Conclusion

Success doesn’t come from getting everything right the first time. It is cultivated from being able to respond appropriately to problems, find resolutions, and adapt formal changes to prevent them from reoccurring in the future. Successful companies make the most out of every situation, good and bad. Online reviews are no different.

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