How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

negative online reviewsThanks to the success of sites such as Amazon, Ebay and Tripadvisor where consumers are encouraged to leave reviews of the experiences they received, more and more online platforms like Yelp, Google+ Local Business and Yell Local Business, have adopted the review process too. These reviews, whether you like it or not, mean more and more people have the opportunity to provide feedback, positive or negative, about your business letting others know exactly what they can expect before parting with their hard earned cash.

On the positive side, these review sites like Google+ Local can offer a helpful service to the general public and give small local businesses a chance to gain valuable word-of-mouth credibility that no ad money can buy. But this open platform also means any customer who was not 100% satisfied is provided with the means to slate your business, tarnishing yourreputation and ultimately affect sales.

The good news is that as a business owner you are not powerless to the wrath of unsatisfied customers. Actively monitoring and responding to any negative reviews before the problem has the opportunity to escalate can do wonders for the image of your business and leave future customers with a positive slant on what could have been a deal breaker for your business.

If you have received a review from a less than satisfied customer that is severely damaging your online reputation then follow these 5 steps that can correct and enhance your online reputation.

1) Regularly Review Your Profiles

At a minimum you should take a few minutes every week to review your online profiles. Sites like Google + local actually mine other sites and provide users with all your information in one place, sometimes from places you didn’t even know existed.

This exercise also acts as a great way to assess what people are saying about your business and identify any areas that could use some extra attention moving forward to improve the level of service the customer receives. Likewise you can take some time to see how your competition is fairing and if there is something that they are doing that is prompting a host of rave reviews then it might give you an idea as to your next marketing campaign.

Don’t wait for your friends or a loyal customer to let you know that somebody is slating your business online. Proactively monitor your online profiles and be the first to see it and the first to respond. Regularly interacting with users both positive and negative will show other people that you are genuinely interested and care about the service offered and received.

2) Assess the Nature of the Complaint

Some businesses dismiss negative reviews out of hand. Don’t. Take the time to assess each review and work back to see if there is any genuine reason that could have caused this issue to happen that could be rectified so that it does not happen again.

3) Respond directly to the complainant

If after assessing the complaint you realise there is something that you could do better, then respond to the complainant. Let them know you have the addressed the issue, say you are sorry and let them know what procedures you have put in place so the same experience does not happen again.

Go one step further give the person your personal number and say if there is anything your business can do moving forward then you would personally like to be the one to do that. The chances are the complainant will not respond but by extending the olive branch you are showing you are willing to go above and beyond to make a difference and that in fact the problem was more of a one off than a frequent occurrence.

4) Leave a Public Response

Once you have offered to rectify the situation personally, make it known to the wider public that you have addressed the issue and reached out the complainant to rectify the issue.

Your response is not to attack the reviewer it is merely to acknowledge the experience, thanking them for bringing the poor service to your attention, highlight what you have done to rectify the situation and demonstrating to everyone else that your business cares about customer service and its reputation and as such this will not happen again.

5) Try to Get More Reviews

Not everyone will be happy with your service and 100% positive feedback is almost unheard of. With this in mind, concentrate on getting as many positive reviews as possible. Rather than having 3 reviews, of which one is bad and two are good reviews, aim to get 10 or 20 positive reviews. That way when somebody experiences a service that is less than satisfactory, the bad review is diluted by all of the other positive reviews.

Put in place a system where your staff encourage customer feedback. Make it easy for the user to access a review site and leave a review, leverage QR codes, hand out review cards with a pen, ask patrons to sign on via their mobile phone leave a review and get a free Coffee or 10% off their next bill.

Whatever strategy you have in place to encourage and monitor reviews make sure that you follow through with it. Online reviews are becoming increasingly important. More and more people pay attention to what others have to say about a product and service before committing to a purchase and search engines are paying more and more attention to what is being said about your business when offering up niche related,local search results.