Bad reviews are a common predicament that businesses are faced with if they have any kind of online presence. Usually, it goes something like this;
You've done a great job at putting your customers first, building a reputation that you're proud of and delivering a service that exceeds expectations.
Then, you log into google and stumble across a scathing, one-star review.
A negative review on Google can feel like an absolute kick in the teeth, especially if it's not deserved.
Studies show that the majority of consumers are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site. So naturally, you want to keep that squeaky-clean, five-star rating.
Which leads you to the question: How do I remove a bad review on Google?
The bad news is, there's no easy, 2-minute fix or 'delete' button.
The good news? There are actions you can take to remove a Google review and we've done the research to show you exactly how.
Step 1: Don't panic, assess the situation
Your first reaction is likely to be frustration and it can be really tempting to turn into a keyboard warrior and write an aggressive/defensive response.
Even if you feel you're in the right, an angry response isn't going to do your reputation any favours, or help your case in getting the review removed.
The first thing you need to do, is figure out whether the review is from a real customer or fraudulent. It's been known in the past for disgruntled former employees to leave damaging reviews, or even for rouge reviewers to drop a one-star review even if they've never visited the business.
Grab the name and email address of the reviewer, cross-check it with your records, and make sure the review is legitimate.
- If it's fake: get ready to respond to the review anyway (getting a review removed can take some time, and in that time, your potential customers will still see it - fake or not), and immediately flag the review as fraudulent.
- If it's real: take some time to figure out who specifically the customer is, and try and remember the situation. Be realistic about whether the review is valid or not, and prepare to respond accordingly.
From here, you've got a few options.
Step 2: Win the customer over and get the review removed
The first rule of thumb? Always respond to the review. There are two main reasons for this.
- Firstly, addressing customer feedback is the best way to manage your reputation online. You have an opportunity to clarify miscommunications and show the public that if you have an unhappy customer, you're willing to go the extra mile to make it right.
- Secondly, the reviewer has the power to undo a review. Anyone who leaves a review on Google has the all powerful edit and delete button, and it's by far the easiest way to take a review down.
Even if the review is fake or you feel as though you've not actually done anything wrong, it's always best to respond politely, apologetically and professionally.
- Respond immediately
- Take responsibility for what went wrong
- Let your customer know you're willing to fix the problem
- Leave your phone number or email so they can get in touch
Here's a great example of the perfect response:
Your goal here is to then contact the customer, rectify the issue and request them to remove the review.
It's likely that if you've fixed the issue, they'll do the heavy lifting for you and make it right on their end, by changing the review positively or taking it down completely.
You'd be surprised by how often you can change a punter's mind.
Step 3: Customer won't remove the review? Flag it
If there's no winning over your maverick reviewer, don't worry, you can request to have the review taken down by going straight to Google.
Here's how to flag a Google review.
- Log in to your Google Business Dashboard
- Find the review that you want to report
- Click on the three vertical dots to the right of the review
- Select the option: 'flag as inappropriate'
You'll be given a few options to describe the violation type - usually, the best answer for this kind of review is 'this post contains conflicts of interest'.
Step 4: Speed up the process
Unfortunately, the team at Google are very busy people and the online reputation of your business may not be their most pressing matter to tend to - so we suggest doing a bit of leg work yourself to speed up the removal process.
The best way to do this, is to get in touch with Google directly via. their support function.
Here's how to speed up the 'review removing' process:
- Open Google My Business Help, scroll down and click Contact Us
- You'll be prompted to enter a query under 'tell us what you need help with'; type 'remove a review' and hit enter.
- Confirm the action by clicking the 'remove reviews' bubble under step two
- Ignore the 'recommended' suggestions and click the blue, 'next step' button. Google will now display your options for contacting their support team directly (which at this stage of escalation is likely to just be an email)
- Click email, and enter your support query in the pop-up box. Once you hit 'submit', Google will be in touch with you about removing your review as soon as possible.
Hopefully, through this process you'll get a Google support person on the line, who can directly help you out with your review.
Step 5: Make the bad review a needle in a haystack
The thing about reviews is that one bad review in a sea of 100 positive reviews isn't going to make much of a difference to your business. Customers will assume that the problem was with the patron, not you, considering most people are vouching for your outstanding service.
Having a strong reservoir of 5-star reviews will go a long way for your business.
If you're not sure how to accumulate positive reviews or are having trouble getting the volume of reviews you deserve - we can help.
Click here to download our FREE guide and learn how to ethically explode your Google reviews.