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How to Minimize Negative Reviews

How to Minimize Negative Reviews

Negative business reviews can lead to a loss in revenue, especially if these reviews gain traction. While it isn’t possible to delete a negative review, there are ways to lessen the blow. 


Beware of fake reviews 


How much weight do reviews truly carry? The answer is a lot. Ninety-three percent of consumers read local reviews when making a decision–since it informs customers whether a business is worth patronizing. For restaurants, not only do reviews impact traffic, but also revenue. A report from the Harvard Business School stated that for each one-star increase on Yelp, a restaurant could see revenue gains of between 5 and 9 percent. Eighty-five percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust those of friends and family. A new positive review on Google or Yelp can be the difference between customers choosing one business over another. While it’s clear that positive reviews boost traffic and revenue, the impact of negative reviews is more complex. 


The Impact of Negative Reviews 


Negative reviews can be a significant hindrance to businesses. Negative reviews are the reason why 86 percent of customers stop doing business with a company. Not only are significant negative reviews the culprit, but research shows that two out of 10 prospective customers are dissuaded from going to a business based on only one negative review. And one in three customers also says they won’t eat at a restaurant with a rating of three stars or lower.  

Further, a study of over 200,000 small businesses showed that businesses with reviews between 1–1.5 stars earned 33 percent less than average ranked businesses. Along with this, 40 percent of people only accept four stars or better. Too many negative Google reviews also impact placement in search results, as Google’s algorithm prioritizes higher-quality reviews for consumer search results. Negative reviews can also affect employee morale and other day-to-day business operations, including losing potential customers before they’ve even walked in the door. If reviews impact a business in this way, censoring or blocking reviews is a sure way to make the situation worse, as 62 percent of consumers say they will not buy from a company that censors its reviews. 


It’s impossible to make 100 percent of customers 100 percent happy 100 percent of the time, so negative reviews can, and will, happen despite every effort to prevent them. The good news is that your restaurant doesn’t have to suffer when negative reviews happen. Here’s how. 


Surviving Negative Reviews 


There are different approaches to improving business reviews, with some being more effective than others. One proven method is to “push down” negative reviews by gaining more positive reviews.  


When pursuing positive reviews, beware of generating fake reviews. Not only can it be undeniable that reviews are fake, but they also pose a violation of guidelines and will result in getting kicked off a review site. In addition, NBC reported that the FTC views fake reviews as misleading and can carry fines of up to $46,517 for each phony review. 


Instead, increasing the number of positive reviews is better achieved in the following ways:  


  • Provide a pleasant, enjoyable experience for customers with a clean restaurant, quality food, and good customer service 

  • Place a sign in a window informing customers that the business uses Yelp or appreciates reviews 

  • Hand out cards or print a link on receipts where customers that encourage customers to leave a review 

  • Incentivize reviews by entering customers into a drawing when they leave a review 

  • Utilize digital display signage with a QR code and call-to-action to leave a review 

  • When a negative review is left, respond to the customer, and offer to remedy the situation - sometimes, this motivates the customer to change their negative review to a positive one 


The above best practices provide a more traditional approach to generating positive reviews, but in this day and age, technology is in restaurants’ favor. With technological advances, securing more positive reviews–and pushing down the negative ones–is more easily accomplished. 


An Innovative Approach to Reviews 


Imagine this scenario: A loyal, repeat customer walks into your restaurant and accesses the free WiFi on her smartphone. While enjoying her meal, she receives a text message asking about her experience and provides a link to the restaurant’s Facebook account, where she can leave a review. The odds of her not only providing a review but a positive one is high since a loyal, repeat customer likes your restaurant and has a positive experience if she keeps coming back. This is accomplished through integrated WiFi marketing. 


WiFi marketing is when a restaurant collects customer data in exchange for access to a free WiFi hotspot connection. Integration is when the data is utilized to segment and target customers to send personalized emails or text messages. The hyper-segmentation capability via owned data enables a restaurant to pinpoint loyal customers, repeat customers vs. one-timers, and define when customers visit and what they order. So, in essence, it provides a look into the customer’s preferences and behavior.  


Once the customer has logged onto the WiFi the first time and provided their information, the hotspot will recognize that device and that customer each time the person walks through the door and is automatically connected to the WiFi. At that point, an SMS (such as a message requesting a review) can be delivered at just the right moment: when the person is in your restaurant, having a favorite burger. The customer then clicks the link, which leads straight to the ability to leave a review on Facebook. Not only does your restaurant receive a positive review, but that review shows up on the customer’s profile under their “about” section. The integration aspect of integrated WiFi marketing is using WiFi, SMS (or email), and social media to achieve the end result 


A restaurant can greatly improve its overall review average by adding a technologically advanced and robust system for prompting and requesting reviews. Additionally, it is an opportunity to collect customer feedback to know what improvements may inspire customers to leave better reviews. Knowledge is power. Businesses can address necessary operational improvements by uncovering patterns that may result in negative reviews 


By including a personal touch coupled with a scientific and analytical process to evaluate a customer base, a business can not only push down previous negative reviews but also encourage customers to leave more positive ones. Beyond the metrics, it’s also important to show customers that the businesses they’re interacting with and buying from care about their experience and, ultimately, boosting the brand’s reputation.


Source: QSR