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Dealing with Reviews, the good, the bad and the ugly

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Staff member
15 May 2002
Online reviews are growing more important by the day, especially for local businesses. Study after study show that what customers write about your business has a direct impact on the bottom line. Furthermore, online reviews affect more industries than ever, from restaurants to hotels, doctors to landscapers, so it's becoming increasing important with the Motor Industry to demonstrate Porsche excellence. Customers also find your reviews in more places than they used to: embedded in the search results, the annual Porsche Awards, Google searches through any platform, to name a few.

So what do you do when a review mischaracterises all the hard work you put into your business?

Business owners have approached us about removing negative reviews, but this isn't usually possible nor is it always desirable. A few negative reviews are par for the course, and sometimes they can even benefit you indirectly over the long run.

Will I get notified of a new review when someone posts it?

No. You will need to look on 911uk.com to see the reviews written about your business. We are looking into adding notifications where possible, but this functionality is not available at this time.

What are 911uk's review guidelines?

We believe in free speech, transparency, and clear communication. When creating a review, we ask that you stick to the facts. The best reviews provide constructive information that helps the community make better decisions.

Review Rules, a reminder

911uk's default position is not to censor, edit, or delete reviews. However, we reserve the right to remove reviews that violate our content policy.

We don't allow:
- Reviews that do not represent a user's personal experience .
-Reviews unrelated to the actual reservation (ex: political, religious, or social commentary).
-Content that endorses or promotes illegal or harmful activity, or is profane, vulgar, obscene, defamatory, threatening, or discriminatory.
-Content that violates another person's or entity's rights.
-Reviews incentivised by a promise for payment, additional services, or a discounted rate
-Content that is proven to be used as extortion.
-Content that refers to an 911uk investigation.
-Reviews that are based on an experience more than 12 months prior to the post being made.
-Reviews that can not be validated as part of the 911uk confidential validation process.

Extortion Policy

Reviews are a way for 911uk users to share their experiences with the community. Any attempt to use reviews to force a user to do something they aren't obligated to do is a misuse of reviews, and we don't allow it.

This also means that:
-Users are not allowed to threaten to use reviews or ratings in an attempt to force a host to provide refunds, additional compensation, or a reciprocal positive review.
-Business are not allowed to threaten 'extort' the reviewer by any means including false legal claims against the review or its ratings in an attempt to force the reviewer to remove review and rating. If a business has an issue with the review they have a right to reply or should contact the site should they have any valid concerns.
-Businesses are not allowed to require a user to leave a positive review or rating, or to revise a review in exchange for a partial or full refund, or reciprocal review. The business also cannot offer a free or discounted provision of service in exchange for a user revising an existing review.
-If a user contacts a host with a problem, the host should make every effort to resolve it. The business can't ask the guest to take specific actions related to a review in exchange for the resolution of the problem. After the issue is fixed, a business may ask the guest to leave a positive review or rating. A business may also ask a user to revise a negative review provided certain time constraints are met.
-If a users has obtained a 'result' specifically as a result of a negative review posted, then any agreement between the parties or by the original poster to have the review removed on 911uk as a result of achieving this result is not grounds for having the review removed.

Whether you're a user or business , make sure you follow these guidelines. If you don't, your account may be restricted, suspended, or terminated. By posting a review, you agree to follow the 911uk Site Rules (guidelines and policies) that 911uk may enforce at our sole discretion.

Handling negative reviews:

1. If you can prove the review is misleading (and only if) contact the review site to contest it
2. Write a public response to the reviewer
3. Show the steps you took to resolve any issues
4. Encourage loyal customers to review you
5. Review your internal processes to recognise how the events occurred

How to manage a negative reviews

Any review sites will not simply remove reviews you don't like. Clearly, this wouldn't be in their best interests; consumers trust reviews on third-party sites precisely because business owners can't police them. However, there are a few instances when you can get reviews removed:

-Slander from competitors: If an underhanded competitor has maligned you on a review site, you can have that review marked as fake and often have it removed or hidden. That said, you'll have to prove your case, which is easier said than done. Simply saying 'This has got to have been written by so-and-so" won't get you anywhere. On the other hand, if the email address associated with the review belongs to someone who works for a competitor, you might be in luck.
-Erroneous reviews: Sometimes customers write a negative response reviews for another business on your review page by accident, or they write a positive review but do not make it clear that it is positive review. In these cases, if you politely contact the reviewer and explain the situation, you can often get the review amended or removed.
-Legal violations: Material that is highly offensive or is illegal to post can be grounds for removal, including threats, racist or sexist comments, graphic content or infringing site rules.

Responding to negative reviews

If you lack grounds to have a review removed, you should respond to the reviewer, publicly when possible. This gives you the chance to resolve the situation with the customer, potentially winning them back. Internal research shows that when unhappy customers receive a thoughtful, considered response to a negative review, they often completely change their opinions, becoming loyal supporters of your business.

Even if you don't win back the reviewer, a public response shows potential customers that you care and that you're paying attention. People like to see how a business recovers from a fumble; it gives them confidence that whatever happens, someone will try to meet their needs. For those reasons, responding to negative reviews is a win-win for your business, no matter how the unhappy customer reacts.

With that in mind, here are some tips for responding to reviews effectively:
-Apologise for the bad experience
-Never accuse the reviewer of being wrong or exaggerating
-Offer to discuss by phone to resolve the situation
-Explain the steps you've taken to resolve the situation

Fixing the problem and then talking about it

The plus side of negative customer reviews is that you get a free perspective on what isn't working so well at your business. Do people frequently complain about long waits? Rude staff? Work not done right 1st time? If it's more than one or two comments, there's probably something that needs fixing on your end.

Use these negative comments to develop operational improvement plans. Not only will this reduce the flow of negative reviews, it will also give you a leg up on the competition by making your business that much more attractive to customers.

Finally, once you've come up with your plan, share it with your disgruntled reviewers. If possible, reach out directly to explain that their reviews helped you spot a problem, then explain the situation. If you've got a negative review about the issue that gets a lot of attention, it's also worth posting your solution as a reply to that review.

Generating more positive reviews

Of course, not everyone reads all the nuances of your reviews. Many potential customers will skip right past your listing if the average star rating is too low. That's why it's important to encourage your customers to share their opinions of you online. Besides, the more positive reviews you have, the less that odd negative comment will affect your business. Here are some tips:

-Ask your customers - Most of your customers are happy with the service they receive; they simply haven't thought to review you. We've found that businesses who ask for reviews receive many times more reviews than those who don't, and most of those new reviews are positive.

-Work it into your routine - No doubt you've already got a lot on your plate without having to worry about asking for reviews. That's why you should work a review-request process into your daily customer interaction flow, so it happens without extra effort.

-Don't ask for praise - Many small businesses make the mistake of asking for positive reviews. This makes the customer feel used. It's better to simply ask for honest feedback, and to be thankful for whatever comments you get. When you show customers you trust them, they're more likely to write nice things about you.

-Avoid fake review services - There are a number of unscrupulous businesses out there offering fake reviews. Avoid them at all costs. First, these reviews are often low-quality and reflect poorly on your business. Second, review sites have gotten quite good at sniffing out the imposters. If you get too many suspicious reviews, you risk being blacklisted and losing a big chunk of your positive reviews.

-Be careful with incentives - It's alright to offer incentives to your customers for a review, but make sure these don't turn into bribes. Provide incentives to all reviewers, whether or not they write something positive, and make sure the incentives you provide send the right message about your business.

Can I write my own reviews?

Yes. Business owners are welcome to write reviews of other businesses in line with the review guidelines. However, business owners are not allowed to represent themselves as consumers when discussing their own services or products. We ask you to disclose your ties to your business in your comments and to act as representatives of your business in all communications on our site. Any reviews that we are made aware of as being fake, untrue or inappropriate about a business or its competitors may be removed and accounts creating them may be deleted at our discretion.

We don't remove company reviews

Our values include transparency and openness. So once a company is reviewed on 911uk, we don't remove the reviews. This applies regardless of whether a company actively uses 911uk or not, which also applies to when the company is taken over by a new owner (as reviews are time stamped).

Unless we're made aware of specific reviews that breach our rules or laws, we aim to preserve consumers' freedom of speech.

Online reviews can build trust and credibility

We understand that some companies have concerns about being reviewed online, but we believe it creates significant opportunities for businesses to engage with and learn from their customers to building trust and credibility.

The internet has made it easier than ever before for people to share their experiences and feedback. Companies can now choose to what extent they want to take part in these online conversations. 911uk is one of many options available for gathering and using constructive business-consumer dialogue.

Embrace reviews as an opportunity to engage.
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