In most instances, the best way to deal with a negative review is to publish a short, non-defensive response that reassures your prospective customers while affirming your values. However, there are instances when the review should be flagged or otherwise challenged for inappropriate content.
Most review sites that host published reviews offer some recourse for business owners and other concerned review readers to flag reviews that violate content guidelines or terms of service, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Whether you are dealing with a review published on Yelp! or Google+ Local, you should be able to find published guidelines for the reviews content. This is your guide for flagging inappropriate content. In Google’s case, the guidelines are made available only after you flag the review, but most other sites have their policies readily available.
When flagging a review, the key is to reference the reviews site’s own guidelines.
1. Find the particular violation listed on the site’s own published content guidelines or terms of service.
2. Identify the part of the review that is in violation of one or more of the guidelines.
3. Flag the review. (Most sites give you the option to flag the review)
4. When possible, write a comment that identifies the infraction by citing the passage in the review and the particular guideline being violated.
Google now only offers a radio button, which makes it doubtful anyone actually investigates the flags, so just try to select the option that best describes the particular infraction. Hopefully someone else will submit a flag, making it more likely the inappropriate review will be stricken.
It is important to note that in most cases it is impossible to distinguish whose version of events are correct, so don’t expect to successfully challenge a review for being either “untrue” or “unfair.” The most common violations are obscenities, spam, or someone writing a review about something other than a customer experience.
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