Negative reviews can be frustrating but the truth is it’s a part of doing business; it’s important to allow real customers to leave feedback if you are going to build trust.

Important fact, customers are 5 times more likely to filter your 1 star reviews than your positive reviews (4 & 5 star).

So why does this matter?

If you have no negative reviews, customers won’t trust you. It evokes ambiguity aversion, causing the customer to believe there’s hidden information. Trust is important.

So what is the best way to manage negative reviews?

If the review is from a real customer that has purchased from you, it may be worth resolving your customer's issue and requesting a revision of the review and/or replying to the review publicly through the dashboard.

When customers see a negative review they are interested in your response. They need context. They want to know what went wrong. Was it a mistake that you’ve accepted? Was it a misunderstanding? or was it a customer not paying attention to the product description or shipping ETA? No one is perfect and companies that accept accountability and publicly apologise always win. KFC anyone? (2018 no chicken incident)

When should you request moderation?

Moderation is there to manage fake, abusive and spam reviews so only genuine, honest and factually correct reviews are verified and published. The changes made from Google have a significant impact on how reputations are managed online: https://blog.reviews.io/google-seller-ratings-rule-changes-aug-2020

What does it take for reviews to be removed?

For reviews to be removed they need to be in violation of Google's policies and they go through a new process. As a result fewer and fewer reviews will be moderated. You should only consider moderation in instances where the reviewer has left an inappropriate comment.

What if the customer is being unfair or unreasonable?

Unfair is subjective but depending on whether the review is a Company or Product Review matters. Here are some examples below and the best way to manage the review:

Example 1

The Review:

“The t-shirt arrived, I ordered a medium but it’s far too small. It comes smaller than you think”

The Rating:

1 star Product Review

Best way to manage this review:

Not eligible for moderation - Respond publicly. This is the customers opinion so should not be moderated. If the customer failed to read the product description, point it out. New prospective customers will avoid the same mistake.

Key takeaway:

This review could help improve your product description, reduce your return rate and improve the overall customer experience making you more money.

Example 2

The Review:

“I haven’t even received it yet”

The Rating:

1 star Product Review


Best way to manage the review:

Request moderation. As a product review this is not helpful for Google Shopping and is off topic because it’s not a review about the product but a review about your service.


Key Takeaway:

Product reviews should ALWAYS be about the product.

Example 3

The Review:

“I ordered this over a week ago and it still hasn’t got here. Poor service.”

The Rating:

1 star Company Review

Best way to manage the review:

Not eligible for moderation - Reply publicly. This typically happens when the customer decided to select standard shipping instead of paying for express shipping, is based internationally or when the parcel is simply lost. In all cases you should not request moderation. If the customer is at fault, politely mention this; it helps other buyers.

Key Takeaway:

From your website, to your checkout process, to the parcel in transit, to the product arriving, this is all part of your customers experience for your brand and their review should be respected.

Example 4

The Review:

“It’s arrived broken”

The Rating:

1 Star Company Review

Best way to manage the review:

Not eligible for moderation - Respond publicly. This is the customer's experience so should not be moderated. Being let down by a courier happens. You can do everything to package the product correctly and they break the goods, but ultimately this is the customer's experience and therefore a company review should remain live.

Key takeaway:

This review could help identify whether you have a packaging issue, carrier issue or a product issue. If this is a common occurrence, maybe it’s time to switch carrier.

As a closing note consumers understand that it's the responsibility of the vendor to ensure that goods are not lost or damaged and that they have a good customer experience. In 2020 and beyond, all customers are critics. All customers have a voice (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc) and it's important that brands respect their opinion and respond respectfully. Removing reviews can damage your relationship with that customer and you risk them posting your reaction on Social Media which can be costly.

Google's official Fair Moderation Policy can be found here: https://developers.google.com/merchant-review-feeds/publisherguideline

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