11 Steps to Take When Your Competitor is Writing Negative Reviews About Your Business
Running a business of any size can be a great deal of work. As you start to grow and expand you face multiple logistical issues and managing time can become a big part of day to day operations. While, expansion is key to growth and keeping a coherent business model across any number of locations is important, there are things that may pop up that are only relevant in today’s business world.
For example, when a competitor starts to write negative reviews about your business online, it can add to an already hectic schedule. This is rarely an ideal situation, but unfortunately not all businesses play fair and when a competitor feels threatened they may lash out online. Your reactions to these attacks are going to be key to ensuring that your business keeps a positive outlook from customers or clients.
There are a number of ways to tackle this issue and to make sure you have a solid understanding of just where to start and what steps to take, we have created a list for you here. The goal is to ensure that you have all the information you need in one spot and will give you and your employees the power to handle any negative reviews found online in a positive way that doesn’t hurt your business.
1. Obviously, Start Early
The best preventative step is to start when your doors open for the first time. This occurs when you are willing to put in the time and effort in to get to know your customers or clients and have them review your business early.
Stay engaged as well. Thank the reviewer for their words and if an issue pops up, address it immediately and publicly if possible. This leads to a vanguard of loyal individuals to your brand that will defend you when the suspicious reviews show up. They can also make it harder for a business that is attacking you to have any real effect on your aggregated score.
2. Become a Linguistics Expert
One thing that every writer, professional or not, has, is a voice. Their voice is how they write – the style in which they structure paragraphs and how they use specific words. This voice is also highly tied to their location. Think of how quickly “color” and “colour” clue you in on the background of the writers.
When negative reviews appear, and they seem suspicious, look for patterns in how they are written. Also, if you have an idea of the business that is writing the reviews, have a look at newer positive reviews and look for patterns. With a little investigative work, you will start to see that the negative reviews about your business and the positive reviews about the other business are written in a similar fashion.
Take screenshots of these reviews and use those as evidence as you submit a request for review to the site in which the attack shows up.
3. Stand out from the Crowd
Most attacks come from other businesses because they feel that you are too similar to them. Make sure that your business does something unique that allows you to be a competitor, but not a copycat. Offer unique solutions to your customers that your competitors don’t, and the other businesses will feel less threatened.
This is a little harder to do if you are the more established business and a new one is attacking you to try to gain market share, but if you follow the other advice in this article, you can still protect your brand.
If you are the newer business, act human. This is key in local business especially. It doesn’t hurt to go to your competitor and introduce yourself. Get to know your competition and try to strike up a conversation that lets you discuss the different markets that you are targeting. Make them feel at ease – that you aren’t there to shut them down.
Ultimately, trying to go toe to toe with an established business is very difficult, but if you ensure that you bring something unique to the table, there should be very little, if any, animosity between you and other similar businesses in the market.
4. Find Other Victims
If you are being attacked in reviews, and it looks like other businesses in your market are as well, create a team. You don’t need to become best friends, or partners in your business, but you will likely be more successful in comparing notes and finding patterns across the markets.
Doing this also creates a friendly rivalry with the other victims of attacks, once the dust settles, that ensures that you will not treat each other the same way. Again, be human with your competitors. Make them realize that you are in the business for the same reasons they are; to make a living doing what you are good at.
5. Never Lash Out
When you suspect, or know, that another business is attacking you, never lash out in response to their reviews.
It is wiser to write a response that goes something like this:
“Thank you for your feedback,
Unfortunately, we have no records that indicate that you used our services. If you can please provide more details, we will happily find a solution that can fix the issues you faced. As it stands now though, we have no record of your visit, your name, or a visit that matches your description, so please send me an email, personally, and we can get this taken care of for you immediately. Thank you so much.”
This type of reply has a two-fold strategy behind it. If you are wrong and the review is genuine, you are going to fix an issue and likely get an updated and positive review from the customer. On the other hand, if this is a fake review, you are showing that, as a business, you are taking personal responsibility for any issues that arise. It also points out that this is likely a fake review as most people that read it will be able to read between the lines and see that this person never actually visited your business or used your service.
Remember to be kind and professional and put the pressure on the fake reviewer to try to respond kindly.
6. You Can’t Have Enough Good Reviews
It is going to be key that you get as many positive reviews as possible. While some people are going to willingly provide reviews on multiple sites without any requests on your part, the majority are going to need a reminder.
Let them know what the positive reviews help you in a number of way. Explain the situation if you feel comfortable enough. Let them know that the reviews are there to protect your business, not just to promote it. But it is important to be clear with your customers that you want an honest review.
How many times have you seen a business ask for a five-star review, which you immediately decide you won’t even consider. Maybe the service deserves five stars, but the push for a perfect review can ruin even the best service out there. Remember, human interactions, and ask for honest reviews.
7. Don’t Get Emotional
One of the challenges you will face when a competitor is attacking you is the anger that will likely hit you first. Your first reaction will likely be the wrong one, so make sure that you calm down and think things through first. A good rule of thumb is to mull over something for 24 hours before taking action.
This rule doesn’t just apply to negative reviews, it applies to any decision you need to make in the business world that may illicit emotion. So, make sure that you are coming at the problem without any emotion at all. Ensure you are being professional. Once you know you are in the right mindset, the rest of the steps are easy.
8. Strike Up a Conversation
A tactic that may work, depending on your personality and the animosity of the attacking business, is just reaching out. Start off the conversation in an unrelated area and slowly work towards finding out if they have had the same issues you have. An attack review is nothing more than an anonymous bully, and if you can identify who the bully is and remove the anonymity, it will be much harder for them to keep up the act.
This is not always the right course of action, but if you are comfortable with it, it may lead to a solid relationship in the long run. It all comes down to your comfort level and the animosity in which the attacking party is coming at you.
9. Don’t Retaliate, Ever.
If you know what company is attacking you, resist the urge to retaliate with negative reviews about their business. Doing this leads to a vicious cycle that may actually get your reviews removed and leave theirs up – and you look worse for doing it.
It is key that you separate yourself from anything more than the possible interactions that we discussed previously. Strike up a conversation or reply publicly.
10. Do Not Go Public
Another mistake business can make is going public with the issue. Calling out the attacking business, essentially. This may seem like a good tactic, but it rarely viewed in a professional light. In addition, it will often lead to a public argument where you come off looking like the bad guy at the end.
Ultimately, you simply need to reach out to the site where the reviews are posted and use their particular roadmap for challenging reviews.
11. Challenging Reviews
Each site works a little different, but they all have similar rules and procedures for challenging a negative review. Google, for example, explicitly states here what is considered prohibited and restricted content on their site. The first point is spam and fake content.
Google makes it easy and outlines exactly what steps you need to take to review a review as fake. Each site will have a similar setup, generally under their support section, that will walk you through the basic requirements for getting things removed that are fake. Make sure you have screenshots of the review so that the reviewer can not do a quick fix if they think you may be on to them. Ensure that you provide as much information as possible and you should see the removal in no time at all.