As a business owner, online reviews can make or break your reputation. According to a survey conducted in 2018 by BrightLocal, 86% of people consult with online reviews before doing business with local companies. If you have negative reviews weighing down your Google and Facebook local business pages you could be losing a significant number of potential customers.
The stakes are fairly clear. If you have negative reviews you should be doing whatever you can to clear them, and more importantly, to prevent new ones from appearing. Providing stellar customer service is the best medicine against future bad reviews. But for now, we’ll talk about how you can get rid of the bad reviews you already have.
What Can You Do?
We should first be clear about what is possible for you, as a business owner, to do. No, you can’t simply delete legitimate negative reviews. That would defeat the whole purpose of the review system. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. You can:
- Request to have fake negative reviews removed
- Respond to legitimate bad reviews
- Try and resolve your customer’s complaints so that they will delete their negative review
- Turn off Facebook Recommendations completely
We’ll look at all of these in detail.
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Getting Fake Negative Reviews Removed from Facebook
There are a number of reasons why fake or illegitimate negative reviews may be appearing on your site. Disgruntled former employees might attempt to use negative reviews in order to damage their reputation.
Competitors may do the same thing in an attempt to weaken your position in the market while strengthening theirs. And online trolls frequently spread poor reviews indiscriminately…just because. Apparently spreading negativity and messing with other people’s lives is something they enjoy.
Whatever the reason, fake and illegitimate reviews can be removed from your Facebook business listing.
Here’s how you can identify suspect ones.
- Does the review promote a competitor?
- Is the reviewer attached to a competitor in some way? Both of these can be signs a competitor is up to no good.
- Does the review include specifics that the general public likely couldn’t know?
- Does the reviewer’s anger seem out of scale with the details of the complaint? These are both signs you may have an angry former employee on your hands.
- Is the review ambiguous? Does it lack corroborating substance?
- Does it contain improbable details? Does it seem unlikely? These four could be signs you’re dealing with a troll.
- Does the review seem like it was intended for a different business? It may very well have been lodged against you by mistake.
If you suspect that a review is illegitimate, go through your records and try to confirm any details the review includes. If your records don’t support the complaint, or directly contradict it, you should petition Facebook for its removal.
Here’s how you do that:
- Go to the Reviews tab on your business’s Facebook page
- Click on the three horizontal dots at the top right of the suspicious review
- Click on “Give feedback on this recommendation”
- When Facebook prompts you with, “What’s going on?”, pick the option that best applies from these choices:
- Recommendation Not Relevant (fake or illegitimate)
- Unfair Recommendation (disgruntled employees or competitors)
- Or Nudity, Violence, Harassment, Suicide or Self-Injury, Spam, Drugs and Hate Speech.
- If asked to, provide details describing specifically why you suspect the review is unfair or illegitimate and should be removed.
Once your complaint has been lodged all you can do is wait for Facebook’s ruling. In the meantime, it’s smart to respond to the review so that other customers can see that you take your criticisms seriously.
Dealing with Legitimate Poor Reviews
If you determine that a review is likely real then having it removed by Facebook isn’t an option. Your best bet at this point is diplomacy and customer service.
Respond to the review. Honestly apologize and ask the reviewer what you can do to improve. Make it clear to them and to other potential customers that you are serious about customer service and that you want all customer experiences to be positive.
If based on the customer’s profile, you know who they are or if you can figure it out by comparing the complaint details and date to your records, and you run the sort of business where you can and do contact customers, consider reaching out to them directly. If it feels appropriate you can also reach out directly to the customer’s Facebook profile.
Ask them what it is you can do to make the situation right. You could offer them a discount or some other incentive to come give your business another try. It’s bad form to directly ask them to remove the negative review, but you can hint at it, couched in terms of having them come in for a better customer experience on their second visit.
You may find that proactive customer service is all that it takes to get the customer to remove their bad review. They may be impressed that you took their comment so seriously.
If they ask you how to remove a review on their end you can tell them it’s very easy. All they need to do is:
- Click on the three horizontal dots at the top right of their review
- Then either select “Delete” to delete the review or “Edit review” if they decide they want to alter their review to reflect their newer, better experience.
Turning Off Recommendations
We don’t generally recommend this. It’s much better to try and deal with each negative review separately because if you turn off Recommendations entirely you no longer get the benefits of the service. Yes all of your negative reviews will no longer appear, but neither will your positive ones, and customers will no longer be able to add reviews at all, which will make it harder, over time for you to repair your reputation.
Remember that this step doesn’t delete your negative reviews, but only hides them. They’ll all still be there in the future when you turn Recommendations back on so make sure in the interim you deal with them.
So it’s best to deal with negative reviews now. However, if for whatever reason you’ve received a large volume of poor reviews that are damaging your business more than you can currently bear, turning off Recommendations can be a quick, temporary way of dealing with the problem. To turn off Recommendations you’ll need to:
- Go to your Facebook business page and click on “Settings”
- Scroll on the left and click “Template and Tabs”
- Then on the right scroll to “Reviews” and click “Settings”
- Toggle “Show Reviews” to “Off”
- Click “Save”
Work to Keep Reviews Positive
The best defense against future negative reviews is excellent customer service. Try and generate a positive customer experience for each of your customers, and when something bad happens, move quickly to make it right. Don’t let negative sentiments fester.
The best way to combat negative reviews you can’t get rid of is to water them down with a lot of great reviews. And the best way to get positive reviews is to ask for them! We can help.
Our easy-to-use app automates the process. Just enter your customer’s name and contact info and let the app ask for the review for you. We know how to ask for a review, and our specific language greatly increases the chances of getting one.
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