The Good and the Bad of Online Business Reviews

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

The Good and the Bad of Online Business Reviews

The Internet can be a treasure trove of information about your business. While you control your website content and social media marketing, other details about your business, like online reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google, are generated by the public. That means, no matter what people have to say - good or bad - about your business it’s online for all to see. While a glowing review can be a boon to business, a negative one can drive customers away in droves. Don’t let the power of online reviews intimidate you, however. You can, with the right approach, turn them into a positive element in the online promotion of your business.

Leveraging Good Reviews

Let’s start with good reviews. They’re lovely to receive and no doubt make you feel proud and successful. But don’t allow them to languish in a vacuum. Engage with your fans who leave you compliments. Thank them for taking the time to provide positive feedback. Inquire about the details of their experience with your company. Ask them politely to recommend your business to others.

Take note of these positives - and promote them as your company’s strengths. For example, when you’re lauded for exceptional customer service, attention to detail, speedy service, integrity, fair pricing… use those attributes to further describe your offerings in your marketing efforts. You know you’re being truthful when you do because actual customers have mentioned these outstanding features of your business.

Damage Control for Bad Reviews

When it comes to bad reviews, it’s all about your perspective. A negative review can  be depressing - and often comes as quite a shock. Obviously it’s disappointing to learn that someone was dissatisfied with their experience with your business. Your online reputation is important and can make a big impact upon buying decisions - so you want to do everything possible to keep bad feedback to a minimum.

But when negative reviews appear, don’t feel like a victim or become defensive. Remember everyone is entitled to an opinion, whether it reflects well or poorly on your business. Try to take bad reviews in stride and approach them with an open mind. Sometimes bad reviews are written in angry terms or display disappointment or frustration. You may need to read between the lines to discover exactly where you could have dropped the ball.

It’s every bit as important to respond to negative reviews as it is to the positive ones - possibly more so. As far as crafting an appropriate reply, always take the high ground. Apologize for the issue and take it on yourself as much as possible. Don’t, under any circumstances tell the customer you think her review is wrong. Ask politely for further details so you can fully understand the issue. Clearly express genuine concern and interest in setting things right. At this point, it may be appropriate to move the conversation to some place private as in message, text or email - the customer may be hesitant to air her dirty laundry in a public forum.

As with positive reviews, take this feedback to heart and learn from it. If a customer is complaining about a long wait for service, a rude employee, a mixed up order, a communication gaffe or defective merchandise, discover how you can make changes or improvements to avoid a recurrence of such a problem in the future. These issues too, can be used in a positive way to promote your business. Once a remedy is implemented, let the world know: We’ve streamlined our ordering process; committed ourselves to extraordinary customer service; or, developed a “new and improved” product. Stepping up your game will impress already satisfied customers and can potentially convince dissatisfied customers that you’re trying to improve your business’ operation.

Getting More Reviews of Your Business

As you can see, it is possible to “make lemonade out of lemons” when you are the recipient of negative reviews. Of course it’s preferable to get positive ones in the first place - and the more the better. That’s why it’s prudent to make reviewing your business online as simple and convenient as possible for customers. In addition to the general, popular review sites, choose several that specialize in your particular industry where people looking for specific information will find them. Once you’ve set up your profiles, make it a point to ask your customers to review your business. Ask them in person and include links to review sites on your website, in correspondence and on social media. While it’s not legal for you to “buy” reviews, it is perfectly acceptable to offer an incentive for customers to leave reviews. Enter your new reviewers into a weekly raffle for a giveaway or surprise a reviewer with promo code. Stress that the incentive is for any review - not only for positive ones because, as you know, there is benefit it both. To gain even more, enlist the help of your employees by offering them a bonus for obtaining customer reviews.

Online reviews provide valuable decision-making intel for potential customers. Make the most of yours by responding, learning and gathering them in abundance.

Who handles customer reviews in your company?

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