Negative Reviews Online To Delete or Not to Delete?

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Late last week, I had this conversation via text with a friend of mine who is a marketer for a small business in Phoenix:

Question: whats your opinion on a client posting a negative review on social media or review site? Try to remove or address issue with care and compassion?

Absolutely address. Take it offline ASAP though.

I say address it but other person at work is trying to get it deleted.

Absolutely do not delete it. The last session of social media marketing world was all about this. It was called hug your haters.

Responding kindly and professionally to negative reviews is powerful for brand advocacy. Deleting it can escalate things. Better to see it as an opportunity to be kind and compassionate which is exactly what people want from (your company).

Thats what I told my boss. Itll make her even more angry.

Yup. And you dont want to have her posting bad reviews all over the web because you make her more angry. Big fat waste of time. And stress.

Negative Reviews and Comments To Delete or Not to Delete?

Yes, folks, we are STILL having this conversation this push and pull between people like my friend, who understands the finer points of relationship marketing and good online customer service, and people who react to customer complaints with fear and panic, which is understandable, as the online reputation of a business can make it or break it.

Deleting a bad review (assuming you can even get it deleted) will NOT make it go away. Best case, it festers. Worse case, it blows up and haunts you for months or even years to come.

The timing for this text conversation was interesting, as Id just returned from Social Media Marketing World where Jay Baer gave the closing keynote, Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Turn Bad News to Good.respondtoreviews

He could not have done a better job addressing a couple thousand marketers whose brains were already full to the brim with great ideas and takeaways. It wasnt a subject I even cared too much about, honestly (because it seemed pretty common sense to me) but his delivery was amazing, and apparently its still a hotly debated issue (see text conversation above :)). He also provided some great statistics and some good (and terrible) examples of people responding to reviews.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

When your business is attacked, it is only natural to panic and then fight back. So, go ahead and write down a nasty, negative response and then throw it away. Youll feel better, but you wont have shot yourself in the foot.

Then go back to whichever platform is hosting said negative review and reply nicely. Even if the person leaving the review has it wrong wrong, own any part of the failure you can and express your desire to make it right. Then, give them a way to get in touch with you so you can continue the conversation offline. True, some people are just looking for a fight, but even those provide an opportunity for valuable interaction.

This approach addresses both the disgruntled customer AND anyone reading your reviews online. If they see that you are truly interested in what your customers have to say and you desire to make everything right, you WILL create raving fans even if the original complainer is never happy. Even with the nastiest reviewer, when you respond in a professional and compassionate manner, you will come off looking like a champ.

With All This Online Negativity, Why Not Just Stay Offline?

Some businesses avoid social media for fear of negative comments. The trouble with that reasoning is that if people want to say something bad about your business, they will whether you are online or not. Wouldnt you rather be part of the conversation?

Review sites are powerful tools for customers making buying decisions. Give them both sides of the story by responding to reviews good and bad (tweet this).

How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Various Review Sites

The methods are different for each, but here are some links to get you started:

Yelp Great advice on responding to reviews.
TripAdvisor How to respond to reviews on TripAdvisor.
UrbanSpoon UrbanSpoon suggests not responding?!?
Google (!) Respond to a Google review
Better Business Bureau Tips for responding
Angies List Respond to reviews
Dont forget about industry-specific sites Google [My business name] reviews to turn up more you should be watching. If you get a lot of reviews consider using a reputation management service so you dont miss any.

Dont Forget to Hug Your Fans!

You likely have many more rave reviews than complaints. It takes time and effort to leave those, too so say thank you!!! Even better if you can say thank you online AND when you see them again in person. What an impression that would make! Obviously this may not be practical for everyone, but think about the kind of loyalty that sort of attention would earn and what their companions would think.

If youve been struggling with this issue, look for Jays upcoming book Hug Your Haters. Its going to be good. You should also check out a recent episode of the Web Search Social Podcast in which Ian Anderson Gray shares his takeaways on the keynote speech. Its amazing the impact this seemingly common-sense talk had on so many of us.

How do you usually respond to negative reviews or negative comments on social media? What results have you noticed?