How To Manage Online Reviews: A Concise Guide for Businesses

Marketing 20 minute read 8th November 2023

When people come across a product or service that catches their eye, they don’t immediately invest in it. Instead, they turn to reviews to check if other people are happy with the offerings and then decide. This is the reason why businesses must learn how to manage online reviews.

As you first dive into this topic, it might confuse you since you can’t control what people post about you. But here’s the thing: you can take steps to guide people’s thoughts to a positive perspective.

However, forcing people to post reviews or only positive things isn’t the right path. That would only have the opposite effect. Rather, you must be helpful and empathetic while focusing on customer experience.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. This is the perfect place to start learning how businesses handle their reviews!

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What Is Online Review Management?

Managing online reviews isn’t rocket science, but a lot goes into the process. Without the full picture, you might have difficulty starting the process. So, the first step is to answer what is online review management. When companies monitor and take action on their reviews across all platforms, they engage in online review management.

Now, your next question must be, what actions do they perform? Well, the most important task they do is responding to both types of customer reviews, positive and negative.

When you reply to those reviews, you learn what your customers think about your products and services. This is the main reason why reviews are important. You get to learn their likes and dislikes and generate patterns that can help you improve your offerings.

Not only that but when you reply to reviews on time, you can resolve conflicts easily without escalating the situation. This starts a domino effect of good things happening for your business. For starters, the reviewer will become a loyal customer.

Moreover, when others see how dedicated you are to solving problems, you’ll get more customers. And we all know more customers means more revenue!

The same goes for positive reviews. They’re sufficient on their own to encourage people to buy from you. But when you reply and thank the reviewer, that is the cherry on top. Your respectful and professional answers give you a special place in the onlookers’ eyes.

Reporting and removing fake reviews is also a part of review management because that’s also a part of the business.

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Easy Yet Effective Tactics for Online Review Management

Now that you know what online review management is, it’s time to discuss some tactics for this process. Again, it isn’t exactly hard. You just have to pay attention to a few things.

First of all, you must create your business profiles on Google My Business and review sites like Yelp. Without these profiles, where will people leave reviews?

Next, your focus must be on gaining more positive reviews by asking customers to leave star ratings. But saying things like, “Leave us a review,” won’t work here. Rather, you should ask customers if they would refer your business to family and friends.

In fact, there are dedicated platforms that you can use for this purpose. When people select yes or no, the platform prompts them to write their thoughts.

Now, if those comments are positive and will work in your favor, the platform publishes them to review sites. On the other hand, if the comments can sabotage your business, the platform will let you know.

From there, it’s up to you to solve the issue. Moreover, you must respond promptly to each review. When the comments are positive, thank the reviewer and express your gratitude.

Plus, this is a good time to let them know about any updates they might like. This will increase their loyalty towards your business. If the reviews are negative, follow the steps in the next section. But when your business scales and reaches more people, you’ll receive more reviews.

Chances are, you’ll never find some of them if you don’t apply some type of tracking. There must be a mechanism that notifies you about each review. Investing in review management software would be a good idea since it can categorize answered and unanswered reviews.

How To Manage Negative Online Reviews in 4 Steps

More than 99.9% of people rely on reviews to make a decision when choosing a business. Out of this percentage, 96% focus on negative comments. If they find a company having many negative reviews, they refrain from doing business with them. But do you know what encourages potential customers to give you a chance, even with bad reviews? Replying to them and solving the problem.

They get to see the bigger picture instead of just the reviewer’s perspective. This encourages them to at least try your business out for themselves. But for that to happen, you must know how to manage negative online reviews.

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Step #1: Sit Back and Understand the Problem

Earlier, we mentioned that you should reply to each review promptly. But that isn’t applicable in all situations, like when a review is particularly hateful.

It’s only natural to get angry and defensive when reading such a review. But blaming the customer and arguing is the worst thing you can do in this situation. The goal here is to calm the situation, not to escalate it.

So, first of all, step back, relax, and take a deep breath. Turn away from the screen if you need to. Once you feel at ease, return to the screen and read the review carefully.

It would be even better if you read it two to three times to really understand the reviewer’s problem.

After all, if you’re not aware of the issue and its root cause, how will you present a solution? Moreover, see other negative feedback and see if there’s a pattern to this problem. If other customers also face this issue, you must take serious action.

However, the problem won’t always be apparent. In this case, you must ask the customer to explain further. But being respectful and professional is the key here.

Step #2: Apologize Even if It Isn’t Your Fault

Once you’ve understood the problem, it’s time to type the response. Remember, the first element of your reply must be an apology, even when it isn’t your fault. Here’s why.

First, the customer will instantly calm down. It’s the whole reason for leaving a negative review. They want you to understand their issue, apologize, and present a solution.

Second, it’s a chance to show onlookers that you’re not afraid to own your mistakes and learn from them.

Keeping this in mind, let’s make an example to understand this better. Suppose you own an online bookstore. One of your customers didn’t receive their order, and they left you the following review.

“Pathetic service. I ordered my books last week and still haven’t received them. What’s worse, they don’t even update you!”

Now, it might be tempting to say that a week isn’t that long, and the customer didn’t ask for an update. But that would be rude and will only worsen the situation. Instead, here’s what your response should sound like.

“Hi [Reviewer’s name], thank you so much for taking the time to leave your feedback. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you are facing. Due to the large number of orders, we request customers to allow us 12 to 15 days. But I agree, we should’ve sent you an update when we dispatched the order.

As a rectification, I would like to give you an online voucher for a 20% discount on your next purchase. Kindly contact me [contact details] so I can send it to you.”

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Step #3: Present a Feasible Solution

If the mention of a discount voucher in the previous example has confused you, here’s the explanation. Leaving the response as an apology won’t do you any good. The customer might even get angrier since nobody likes a dry apology. They took time to write a review, so a solution is what they demand.

However, this step requires careful consideration. If you suggest a solution that doesn’t give much benefit to the customer, it will fuel their anger. On the other hand, if the solution isn’t feasible for you, you’ll end up losing money.

For example, you own a restaurant, and a customer finds your food cold and bland. They share this in an online review.

Now, if you suggest a 50% discount on their next visit as a solution, it will burden your pocket. But if you suggest a free toy with their next meal, the customer will get angry.

Instead, a free dessert or a 15% discount will work better here. Moreover, look into what caused the issue. If it was slow service that made the food go cold, work on it and let the customer know your efforts.

Step #4: Gain More Positive Reviews

The last step to respond to negative online reviews is to get more positive reviews. Again, you can’t force people to say positive things about you, and you can’t control their thoughts.

If you try your best to give your customers the best service and products, why would they leave a bad review?

Remember, happy customers are the best source for getting more positive reviews. Therefore, listen to what they have to say about your company. There will definitely be areas of improvement, and the best way to identify them is to get customer feedback.

A good solution is to implement a social WiFi hotspot and let the software do the hard work for you. This solution lets you automate the process of getting reviews. However, WiFi marketing software is not for free.

Another tactic to fill your reviews with positivity is to reach out to influencers and have them try your product. But even here, your product must be up to par so the influencers don’t have to say misleading things.

Lastly, display all positive reviews across your channels as a marketing strategy. One way to do this is by using a tool that lets you display reviews on your website.

But that won’t work for social media and marketing materials, where you have to display the reviews manually. Either make posts or videos with a compilation of your positive reviews on a regular basis. Or create an Instagram highlight where you keep adding reviews.

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How To Remove Fake Reviews From Google?

Now that you know how to deal with negative reviews, be mindful that the situation can take worse turns. There will be grudging customers and dishonest competitors who will try to sabotage your reputation with fake reviews.

For this reason, many businesses ask how to remove fake reviews from Google. But the truth is, only Google can remove those reviews. It has dedicated algorithms in place to detect such reviews.

But people have discovered ways to trick those algorithms, so it’s up to you to detect and report them.

Now, how can you detect these reviews? Well, if the review has overly positive or negative thoughts, it’s probably fake. Moreover, if the reviewer has posted many other reviews within a limited time frame, that’s also a red flag.

These reviews are mostly from people who either have a new profile or haven’t filled it correctly.

But remember, Google won’t remove a review just because someone flagged it. If the reviews go against its terms of service, only then will it remove them.

The good news is the situation is still in your hands. All you have to do is treat the fake review just like you would treat a really bad review. You probably won’t have to follow a process to solve the problem since there won’t be a real problem. But it will have the same positive effect on onlookers.

Online Review Management Services That Make You the Star of the Industry

While the above tactics can prepare you to deal with reviews on your own, there’s another way to do it.

Online review management services have the appropriate experience it takes to make you like the star of the industry. They know what works and what doesn’t in terms of managing and responding to reviews. So, taking this route can be more beneficial for you depending on your own experience.

But there are a lot of companies providing this service, and some even use faulty methods such as buying reviews. Due to this reason, businesses refrain from investing in them.

However, there are a number of good companies that don’t use sketchy methods. ReviewTrackers and Rising Star Reviews are reliable companies. However, you can do a fantastic job yourself if you implement a solid WiFi marketing solution. These systems often allow you to get more reviews automatically on the major local review sites. Moreover, they integrate with third-party solutions and help you manage your reputation online simply.

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Manage Online Reviews To Attract More Business

By now, you must be familiar with effective review management strategies. Being polite and professional is the best way to manage online reviews. Even when the reviews are negative, and it isn’t your fault, you must still apologize and be respectful.

To grow your business, however, it is essential to get reviews regularly on local review sites. If you are tired of manual methods and want to automate this part of your operations, try out Beambox. It is a WiFi marketing platform that helps you get more positive reviews and prevent negative ones from going online.

With Beambox, you can also manage your online reputation from one dashboard.

Over 12,000 venues are using Beambox to grow their business and get more clients. Start your trial now!

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