5 Reasons NOT to Delete Negative Reviews

November 19, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Reputation Management

Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to chat with a writer from a bridal magazine. She was looking for tip on how retailers could protect themselves from negative reviews and how they should respond to negative reviews that are left on their sites/ Facebook account. She wondered – if someone leaves a critical review on a business owner’s Facebook page, can’t they just delete it? I mean, why deal with it all, right?

No, no, no, no! Don’t delete that review or comment!

While it may seem counter-intuitive, there are quite a few reasons why business owners want to resist the urge to delete comments and reviews that are critical of them. Sometimes, negative reviews can actually help, not harm, your business. Here are a few reasons why it’s okay to let negative reviews lie on your page.

You want the conversation to happen at home

If someone left you a scathing review on your Facebook page, you may want to consider sending them a cheese basket or something to thank you. Because, it means they were kind enough to come to you first and that there’s still time to fix the relationship [Imagine if the people you dated did this!]. If you then go and delete that comment, you’re going to make an already-disgruntled customer simply more frustrated, essentially telling them you don’t care about their feedback. You’ll be sending them away even angrier than they arrived and they’re not going to keep that to themselves. They’re going to up the fire and leave an even nastier review about your business on Yelp or Google Places. Or they’re going to start a tweet war about how you censored them. Or they’re going to write a blog post with your company name in the Title tag. Any of these things would be way worse than one negative comment on a page that you control. To avoid it, let the comment sit on your Facebook page, addressing it calmly and sympathetically. It’s always better to keep the conversation at your own house than to let it spread elsewhere.

It’s a chance to change the conversation

If someone left a negative comment or review about your company, they’re giving you a chance to change the conversation and make it better. They didn’t silently vow to never do business with your company again and trash you to their friends. They’ve told you what happened, why they’re upset, and now they’re looking to you to make it better. Instead of just deleting the comment, listen to what they’re telling you. Understand what their problem is and where the communication breakdown occurred. Say you’re sorry, vow to do better, and invite them back so that you can personally change their experience. By responding to a negative comment on your home turf, you get the chance to turn a negative into a positive.

You get to show off your customer service

I imagine if you’re a small business that sells wedding dresses it seems pretty tempting to delete that angry comment from your Facebook wall. I mean, they already got their once-in-a-lifetime-dress, right? They won’t need another one for at least three years. Who cares if they’re upset with your company? Well, everyone else who stumbled upon that review/comment will care. By positively responding to a negative comment on your page, it shows everyone looking how much you care about your customers and the lengths you’ll go to right a bad situation. The person upset may never need your services again, but they have friends who will and you also want to leave a positive foot trail for potential customers who innocently land on your page while researching.

Gives you street cred

Admit it – when you see a business that ONLY has 100 percent glowing reviews, you start to wonder who they’re paying under the table. Because it’s just not natural. Even the greatest business with the best customer service is going to attract a negative review at some point. As long as you have plenty of positive reviews to counteract it, leaving a negative review on your page isn’t going to hurt you. It may even provide balance and make someone feel more comfortable purchasing from you. [Assuming you addressed the review like an adult and didn’t call them a dumbass to create an unnecessary crisis.]

You get feedback you can act on

Outspoken Media is no stranger to negative comments, but we always try and use those comments to enact change. It’s like hiring your own mini focus group without having to pay for it. Take the feedback people are giving you and look for ways to incorporate it into your business. Doing so will not only improve your business, but it’s going to make you a hero in the eyes of your customers who know feel like you’re really listening to them. That’s how great brands are born.

Those are some reasons that I would encourage business owners NOT to delete reviews or negative comments left on their site.  If you need help, you may be interested in reading up on how companies should respond to negative reviews, how to make flame wars work for you, how to manage online reviews, and how to create an ORM crisis in case that’s you’re thing.  How have you handled negative reviews in the past? Would you trust a business with nothing but positive reviews? Am I too skeptical for my own good? Tell me.

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