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November 16, 2022

How to Remove Bad Reviews: Our Best Google-Approved Practices

There's no guaranteed way to delete bad reviews, but with a solid response strategy you may convince the customer to update their initial feedback in your favor.

It’s Widewail’s goal to help you capture, distribute and shape the narrative around your business. While most of our reputation management strategy focuses on positive customer interactions, the occasional negative feedback is unavoidable - no matter how you play it. 

Over the past few years, we’ve found that the dreaded 1-star review is not always such a bad thing. In fact, when handled strategically, engaging with negative feedback can have a positive effect on your business's reputation and ensures a longer-lasting relationship with your customers.

Here at Widewail, we live by one rule - respond to every review, no matter the rating. Why? Because responding to reviews gives your business a voice. 

Responding to a five-star review proves you care about customer satisfaction. It makes your customers feel appreciated and leaves them with a positive lasting impression. 

Responding to a 1-star review shows you value customer feedback. It helps your customers feel heard and understood. Further, it gives you the chance to do some damage control and, if you play your cards right, help turn things around. This best-case scenario is what we Widewailers call a “Widewail Save.” 

A “Widewail Save” is when a reviewer updates their 1-star review to a 5-star review after receiving a deliberate and tactful response from Widewail on behalf of your business. 

After responding to thousands of reviews for businesses across the US, and having been witness to countless Widewail Saves, we’ve learned that review response gives you control over your business’ reputation. It also gives you a chance to earn back and strengthen your customer’s trust. The potential benefits of this hands-on approach can lead to many ancillary benefits outside of simply deleting a bad Google review. Embrace them.

Overall, a willingness to address customer feedback goes a long way in retaining existing and future customers. Everyone loves a happy ending, and when prospects see you go out of your way to turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one, they’ll be more apt to trust and choose your business. Not to mention what this level of customer service can do for your Google star rating.

In a perfect world, every negative review would result in a Widewail Save. While nobody can guarantee a positive outcome, here are a few steps we take to try and turn a negative review into a positive one

  1. Respond (show customers you care about customer service post-transaction)
  2. Keep your cool (avoid emotional or defensive language) 
  3. Apologize (validate your customer’s feelings) 
  4. Share your side of the story (research the facts)
  5. Take the conversation offline (keep your interactions personal and professional) 

In reality, customers who leave negative reviews don’t want to feel angry or upset with your business, they just want to feel heard. The Widewail approach works because we put the customers’ feelings first, without jeopardizing the integrity of your business. 

To demonstrate the power of review response, and encourage you to view negative feedback as an opportunity to gain and retain customers, we’ve listed a few of our favorite Widewail Saves below – anonymized for the privacy of our clients and their customers. If you’d like to read more insider tips on review response, check out our free 74-page book with examples, templates, industry-specific guidance, and more.

1. The “Broken Trust” Widewail Save 

Initial 1-star Review: 

I’ve been ordering from Store X every week for the last couple of months with no problems. Yesterday, I spent $120 on vapes and paid for same-day delivery because I was going out of town and wanted to ensure they were received before I left. I never received them, although I paid $19.99 for the service. It doesn’t even show that they’ve been sent yet. I emailed yesterday when I saw they hadn’t been sent and never got a response. I tried emailing this morning and my email was returned saying the mailbox was full. I called today after having to research a number (because it’s not listed on their website) and talked to someone that asked me my name 10 times and said she was having a problem finding my order. Once she did find it, she said she’d have to call someone in Texas and that they would call me, but couldn’t tell me what happened or how the problem was going to be fixed. Now, I can’t get a hold of someone at that number and their mailbox is full. My card has already been charged. I’m more than likely not getting the vapes before my trip and now I can’t even talk to anyone about it. I see they have plenty of 5-star reviews, which I don’t doubt cause I’ve had good experiences with them as well. However, this experience makes me not want to trust them or spend any more money with them. I find it odd too that they respond to all their positive reviews but never to the negative ones. I hope I’m not just screwed. I’d like to be able to edit this review later with a positive outcome, but I have little hope. I’m merely writing the review in hopes of someone doing something and to warn potential new buyers that you may get charged money for no product.

The reviewer is upset because they did not receive their order on time. They also have had significant trouble getting in touch with someone at the store. Their level of frustration is heightened by the fact that they have only ever had wonderful experiences with this establishment prior. 

Initial Response from Widewail: 

“Reviewer X, we sincerely apologize for the mixup and delay with your order. We want the most for our customers, and it is never our intention to inconvenience them. We are sorry for the issues you have encountered getting in contact with our team and would appreciate another chance to speak with you to see what more we can do to help clear things up. If you are willing, please reach out to us directly. Thank you, (XXX)-XXX-XXXX”

The response addresses the fact that this is a repeat customer and aims to salvage the ongoing relationship. It offers an apology for the delay with the customer’s order and for the issues they experienced getting in touch with the team. It also encourages the reviewer to reach out to management so that their concerns may be further addressed. 

Updated 5-star Review: 

Been ordering from Store X for a couple of months now. Had an issue with shipping and getting ahold of someone to resolve it. Was eventually contacted by the General Manager who went above and beyond to correct the situation. Made me feel appreciated and valuable to his business, which is rare sometimes for small businesses.

The reviewer thanks the General Manager for taking the time to address their concerns and updates their initial 1-star rating to a 5-star. They are a repeat customer and are satisfied with the business’ efforts to keep them happy. 

Updated Response: 

“Reviewer X, thanks so much for taking the time to update your review! We are thrilled to hear that our General Manager went above and beyond to ensure your order was taken care of and make things right. If you ever have any questions or concerns, our team is always ready to help. Until next time!”

The response acknowledges the fact that the customer went out of their way to update their review, all while making them feel welcomed and appreciated for future transactions.

2. The “Unfinished Business” Widewail Save

Initial 3-star Review: 

“Besides the fact that my car got hit by their service department while on their property, they took about 3 weeks to fix it. It got taken to another shop and not fixed in-house. I also had to have them remove my stripe because the painter could not paint it properly. My power seat does not work anymore. My tank was left empty. Aside from all of this, they still decided to leave their hair and used PPE equipment in my car during this pandemic. This place can't get any worse. Before the GM decides to ask me to call and discuss this, you have my number. You can call me.”

The reviewer had a very negative service experience. They claim to still be having problems with their vehicle and suggest that those issues are a direct result of working with the dealership. They also claim that their vehicle was damaged while in possession of the service team. 

Initial Response from Widewail: 

“Reviewer Y - I sincerely apologize for your frustrating experience. There are a number of concerns here that I would like to address. I will look for your contact information and get in touch. Thank you, General Manager, (XXX)-XXX-XXXX.”

The response recognizes the fact that this reviewer’s experience is not what the business expects for its customers. It also moves to take the conversation offline as soon as possible, as there are multiple troubling claims made in the review. 

Updated 5-star Review:

I am editing my post due to how professionally the General Manager handled my situation. I would like to give thanks to him, his new car manager, and the paint department manager. You guys took care of a situation that was not even your department’s responsibility and made it right. I appreciate the rental and the free wash. Keep up the great work.”

The reviewer acknowledges the specific team members that went above and beyond to help fix their situation. The issues they encountered with their vehicle were resolved, and they took the time to update their rating to a 5-star. 

Updated Response: 

“Reviewer Y, thank you for taking the time to update this review! We are so glad we were able to address the situation and make things right. If there is anything else you need from us, please don't hesitate to give us a call or come back and see us again here at Store Y.

The response admits that it was the business's responsibility to remedy this customer’s situation. It also encourages them to return for future visits now that the issues have been resolved.

3. The “Last Chance” Widewail Save 

Initial 1-star Review: 

“Poor customer service, for all their talk about "promise to care”, loyalty rewards, and “we are here to help,” they don't honor their word to call customers back in a timely manner. People tell you one thing today and tomorrow it's different. The service department isn't very keen on customer service. I would never recommend any friends to buy here...ever again. I bought two cars from here. One we had so many issues with. They had it in for problems such as "a column" frame that wasn't welded at the driver's door (when it rained I got wet). Someone also hit my door during service and they had to buff it out. Further, the AC kept going hot. Finally, after 5-6 tries, they found out the back AC unit had a leaking O-Ring. I had multiple safety recalls. Overall, this place has gone down really bad in customer care.”

The reviewer claims to have given this dealership multiple chances to fix things. They list several instances in which they did not have a successful service experience. 

Initial Response from Widewail: 

“Reviewer Z, I am so sorry to hear about the issues you've been experiencing as we want customers to feel confident in their vehicles. Additionally, I apologize for our lack of communication. I would like to step in here to help you, however, without your last name, I am afraid I won't be able to get in touch. Please consider giving me a call. Thank you, Service Manager (XXX)-XXX-XXXX.”

The response offers an apology and acknowledges that the customer has experienced many problems working with the business. However, it is careful to not outwardly accept any responsibility. It directs the customer to reach out and connect offline, which is best, especially when there is more than one issue to address. 

Updated 5-star Review: 

“Good people, good service, and, like many others, they are human. They make mistakes, but at least they try to help fix them. The only thing I would ask is that if one person tells you something, make sure that if you are not there or the one helping that person, the other team members know the plan. Other than that, great.” 

The reviewer, after speaking directly with a representative from the business, updates their review to a 5-star rating and is willing to give it another chance. They offer words of advice but are confident enough in the establishment’s sincerity to return. 

Updated Response: 

“Thank you, Phil. We appreciate you allowing us the chance to assist you and will keep this feedback in mind moving forward. Have a wonderful day!”

The response thanks the reviewer for giving them another chance and assures them that their feedback will be used to improve in the future. 

As demonstrated by our Widewail Save examples, even the most negative customer experiences can be turned into positive ones. Prioritizing customer service through review response allows you to maintain current customer relationships while establishing a sense of trust and accountability to your prospects. It shows you care, and that effort is enough to make your business stand out from the rest. 

Whether you handle your review responses internally or trust a reputation management service like Widewail to respond to them on behalf of your business, approaching negative review situations with a level head and clear objective is key. 

For more information on how to respond to reviews, both negative and positive, check out our free review response guide with 56 examples, insider tips, and more.

Download the Book: 56 Review Response Examples

Emily Keenan

Originally from Scarborough, Maine, I moved to Vermont this past summer after graduating from St. Lawrence University, where I received my BA in English and Spanish. I have always been interested in writing and communication, which is what initially drew me to the Review Response Specialist position at Widewail. In my spare time, I can be found reading, playing electric guitar, or strolling/biking around one of Burlington’s many scenic trails. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about my work, and invite anyone with questions or comments to reach out or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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