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Written by
Shaina Tennant
21 Apr 2021
5 minutes

Don't remove bad Google reviews — your business needs more of them

Sometimes, bad reviews can be good news. Find out how to turn critical Google Reviews into a catalyst for your business's growth.
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After all the hard work you and your team put in, day after day, the last thing you want to see is a bad Google review. You know how reviews have been helping your local business and you love those five-star ratings. But out of nowhere comes a negative comment and you begin to wonder how to remove Google reviews.

Maybe they didn’t like the hair colour you applied or the kimchi stew you delivered. Maybe they thought the customer service was rude. Either way, they have shared their critical review with the world.

But should you remove it? Should a bad Google review be ever deleted? Can a bad review even be deleted? The answer to all three is no, not if it’s a genuine review. The good news is a bad review can be helpful for your business.

Reviews: The good, the bad and the ugly

Everyone loves a good review. It’s a public appreciation of your effort, and commitment. They are also an inexpensive way for small, independent businesses to market their offerings. That’s why you should be encouraging people, ideally through SMS, to leave reviews.

The strategy should be to deliver goods and services of high quality and expect satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. That’s digital word-of-mouth working for your business. But you should also know that bad Google reviews also play their part in helping small businesses. So long as the review isn’t downright ugly (e.g. fake, malicious, or untruthful), then there’s good reason to keep it around.

Bad reviews build credibility

First of all, a bad review shows the business is credible. If everyone gave your salon five-star ratings and praised it with multiple exclamation marks, it raises suspicion.

Customers know that even the most loved global brands get negative feedback. So, how come your independent business is so exceptional?

But if someone were to comment that they hated the waiting time at your salon or found your veterinary clinic to be crowded, it makes the service seem real. Good salons and veterinary service centres will see crowds. Consumers know that. While it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve, this feedback has a silver lining.

They inform consumers

Secondly, it gives customers information on products and services to avoid. If someone found your food to be too spicy and therefore hated it, it tells others who might be allergic to spicy food to avoid your place.

This isn’t all bad news for your small business. This will inform others who might love spicy food, to order from you.

If someone found your interior design ideas to be too traditional, it will be of interest to others who are looking for traditional interior design firms.

Remember, a successful business doesn’t need to please everyone. It needs to find its niche and make it profitable.

They increase trust

The third reason — and perhaps the most important — is that along with all the good reviews, a few bad comments can increase the trustworthiness of your business. Yes, it may seem counterintuitive but research supports it.

Evidently, consumers prefer businesses with ratings between 4.2 and 4.5 as anything above that seems unrealistic. So, negative reviews help build trust and trustworthy reviews are more important for shoppers than brand reputation or loyalty programmes.

They give you a chance to show how you solved the problem

When you see negative feedback, instead of wondering how to remove that Google review, you should look at it as an opportunity. Someone is dissatisfied with your business and has told the world about it.

But it also gives you an opportunity to show the world how you listen to customer grievances and solve problems.

If a customer has complained that your heating service crew arrived four hours late, you can apologise and offer some form of compensation. You could explain how you are working to stop this from happening in the future. Whether the customer agrees to your offer or not, others will appreciate the fact that you are apologetic and genuine.

They humanise your business

The biggest difference between a large, national, or multinational brand and an independent, small business is that the local business is all about the people behind it.

When you respond to a negative Google review with humility and generosity, it gives you a chance to show what you stand for.

You can respond by saying that as a neighbourhood family business, what happened to the customer is against everything you believe in. Or that, as a local business, customer satisfaction is all that matters to you and your small team.

We all make mistakes and it takes a strong individual to publicly admit and apologise. When you show your human side, most people will admire you for accepting the mistake and taking responsibility.

Remember, everyone’s watching.

In short

The occasional bad Google review isn’t all bad for business, especially if you're a local, independent establishment. It shows that your business is genuine and it helps build your credibility. It also informs other customers of what to look out for, and whether your business is right for them. Local business is about finding your people, after all.

It can also increase your trustworthiness, a major factor influencing customer decisions. Also, you can show how you solved the problem, and reveal the human side of your business.

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