I just received a phone call from a prospective client that was so unbelievable – well, I just had to write a blog article about it. This business owner wanted a website, because they (wrongly) believed, that somehow creating their own website would remove bad reviews their business had received online. They had no understanding of how the web worked and were absolutely furious.
No one likes getting bad online reviews. A bad review can ruin a whole day. This particular business owner was angry, really angry, and no matter how many times I told them that if I made a website for them, it would do absolutely nothing about their bad reviews on Yelp, they simply refused to believe me. I tried several times to explain that one website can’t change another website. They told me I was wrong. Then they got angry, and started ranting about reporting people to the FBI and million dollar lawsuits… and that’s when I told him I couldn’t help and hung up.
So what is a small business owner to do if they receive bad reviews online? Well, having your own website is a good idea, not because it can replace the reviews, but if it appears in the search reviews above the bad review websites, people might click on it and not read the bad reviews. This is developing a website with the “look over here not over there” philosophy. But the bad reviews are still there, just a small mouse click away.
What the business owner really should do is two-fold:
1. Make changes to the business. Take a deep breath and read the bad reviews and see if there are any business improvements that can be made to prevent them from happening again. No one likes criticism, but often there are things you can do to make happier customers, or perhaps to at least making a client unhappy. If out of 10 reviews, 9 folks think you’re awful, it might be time to do some soul searching. If you are able to identify any of the people, reach out to them, see what you can do to change their opinion of their experience with your business. I have known customers to change their online reviews after receiving corrective action from a business owner.
2. Get good reviews. I got this awful review once from a person who wasn’t a client, but was a scam artist who tried to take advantage of my client and I wrote a blog article. The fellow was really angry, and so created a fake bad review of my business. I simply contacted several of my clients, asked them to write a review, and lo and behold, after a month or two, his fake review had been pushed down lower. Of course, this assumes you have clients that like the work you do, and are willing to write a positive honest review. If you don’t, then go back to step 1.
Before I wrote this article, I looked up the business of the person who called me online, and sure enough, there were a considerable number of detailed, really bad reviews. What I also found, was a review written by the owner, threatening customers with bad consequences if they wrote more bad reviews. This is the worst possible move on the business owner’s part, because no one wants to do business with a person who is willing to threaten their clients or appear hostile online.
So if you get bad online reviews, take a deep breath, take a few days. Really consider if there is anything you could do to improve your business or change the reviewer’s mind. Ask clients to write reviews for you to help push the bad review down the list. And if you don’t have a website, consider one, but realize it won’t rid the internet of bad online reviews. If only it did ðŸ™‚Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.