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The True Impact of Reviews

We love them and we hate them. They do wonders for us as consumers but it’s not always sunshine and rainbows when you’re the business owner.

The Upside

Positive reviews have to potential to boost business and increase brand awareness. The 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal found that “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” That’s a lot of trust that people are putting into online reviews and you don’t want to end up having that work against you.

The Downside

In most circumstances, it is not possible to “remove” a bad review if it is an honest and inoffensive opinion. Review sites such as glassdoor, Trip Advisor, and Yelp have different guidelines for reviewers and employer responses but there are general rules that all must follow according to the FTC.

The FTC has a Consumer Review Fairness Act that allows businesses to remove reviews that

  1. contains confidential or private information – for example, a person’s financial, medical, or personnel file information or a company’s trade secrets;
  2. is libelous, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, or is inappropriate with respect to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other intrinsic characteristics;
  3. is unrelated to the company’s products or services; or
  4. is clearly false or misleading.

Of course, reviews are much easier to remove on your own website than an independent one where you might need to contact the site administrators and go through a process of validating your claim.

Steps to take

Reach out to bad reviews

If you have claimed your business on review sites you will generally have an option to reply to the commenter. If it was a misunderstanding then the person could actually take it down. At the very least, you could get them to consider giving you another try. It’s not uncommon to see reviews that say “updated” and have edited their review to reflect their new feelings toward the business.


If it is clear that your business was in the wrong, then you shouldn’t waste time trying to point fingers. You may be able to salvage the relationship by having them give you a second chance as I mentioned above or offering some kind of compensation for their trouble.

Say thank you

Regardless of whether it is a “good” or “bad” review, this person took time out of their day to give you feedback on their experience with your business. Being gracious will reinforce the feelings of happy customers and maybe make the unhappy customers less salty and more likely to forgive and give you another shot.

Bad reviews could make you aware of an issue you weren’t aware of or something that you need to improve. Lucky for you, “73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.” This can work in your favor if you take these reviews to heart and make necessary changes to improve the consumers experience.

Encourage Reviews

This step is especially important because it can lessen the impact of a negative review. For instance, if you have 40 five star reviews and 5 reviews of three stars or under, you will still show an average of five stars.

You don’t want to be caught with only one review of your business if it happens to be a negative one.

Of course, an abundance of popular reviews will also persuade more people to give you a shot. You might even become aware of something your business does that people really love and you should be advertising more.

Whether good or bad, reviews will lend you insight into how you can continue to make your business a success.