Online reputation is a tricky thing. Today, with so many consumers posting, reading, and sharing online reviews of local businesses on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google (Google Maps/ Google+ Local), and Foursquare, it’s critical for every business owner to actively manage and monitor online reviews, which are a major factor in shaping reputation.
So what should you do when you get a bad online review? How should you respond when your reputation is on the line? Here are 8 tips to help you handle the situation.
Read the text of the review carefully. The knee-jerk reaction to a bad review is to get mad. Or to argue. Don’t do that. Instead, read the bad review as carefully and objectively as possible. It may be raising a customer issue, operational policy, or staff problem that needs to be acknowledged and solved.
Look on the bright side. After all, bad reviews can be good for your business.
Thank the reviewer. Show that you’re classy. Kill ‘em with kindness. Write a note of appreciation to the review-writing customer for taking the time to provide valuable feedback.
(Check out: “5 Awesome Tips for Improving Customer Engagement”)
Be both professional and personal. Professional = no name calling, no passive-aggressive tone of voice. Personal = no cookie-cutter corporate jargon, and make sure you use your first name to sign your response.
Address the issue. Get to the heart of the problem that caused the negative review. This way, you can turn a potential disaster into an opportunity to connect even more strongly with existing an potential customers.
Apologize but don’t bribe. In cases where your business really did mess up – causing the customer to write a bad review – be humble enough to say sorry. Don’t bribe them into changing the sentiment of their review, though. A better way to respond is by saying, “Sorry for the negative experience you had, we’re working on the issues you raised and we hope you’ll give us another try” – or something to that effect.
Don’t sue. Pursuing legal action as your way of responding to a negative review? That won’t work. Just ask this business owner. Filing lawsuits will just leave you frustrated and cost you a lot of money. It may also fan the fire by calling unnecessary attention to your business’ interactions with critics and customers.
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(Image credit: Angela Radulescu)