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tips to defend online reputation

A bad online review can damage your business reputation. But your response to the review can save or protect your image.

At a time when consumers can quickly become online critics, savvy business owners and managers are finding ways to minimize the impact that a negative review can have. Just check out these following examples.

(Also read: “Bad Weather? Your Business is More Likely to Get Negative Reviews”)

Hotel explains another side of the story on TripAdvisor 

The Holiday Inn Express at Apsley Lock in Hemel Hempstead recently received a negative TripAdvisor review in which guests claimed that they had been made to feel unwelcome during a three-night stay.

According to the review, the staff and the hotel acted in a way that was described as “discriminatory” after the guests – which included disabled family members – were not offered another room. “I will not be recommending this hotel to anyone,” wrote the reviewer.

Suzanna Richardson, general manager of the Aspley hotel, responded by explaining the hotel’s side of the story. It turned out that the family had not arrived for a booking last year, and had therefore been offered by the hotel, as a gesture of goodwill, to stay for free. However, the family did not specify special requirements for disabled members, which is why, when they arrived, they could not get another room other than what had originally been offered. (The hotel was already fully booked.)

Richardson said, “The safety and comfort of our guests is our primary concern. We are utterly dedicated to meeting the needs of all of our guests ​and we oppose all forms of discrimination. We comply with all UK laws​ and regulations ​in this regard.”

It’s not a groundbreaking example of online reputation management, but sometimes business owners fail to realize that simply responding publicly – and professionally and politely – to a potentially damaging review can go a long way in strengthening their business reputation. Today’s consumers are smart enough to decide whether a review is helpful or not: if you explain your side of a story that a critic began, and if you explain without resorting to name-calling or emotionally charged responses, readers and potential customers will be less likely to reject you on the basis of one bad review.

Restaurateur responds to Urbanspoon review by showing a little more skin 

Some people can be obscene. For example: a customer who went to Atomic Grill in Morgantown, West Virginia wrote an Urbanspoon review of the restaurant to say that its female servers ought to “show a little more skin.”

Thankfully, owner Daniel McCawley saw this very offensive review as an opportunity not only to enhance the visibility of Atomic Grill, but also to support a cause. He has decided to respond to the Urbanspoon reviewer’s request by launching a new promo: potato skin specials for $7, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services.

“We took offense to the review and wanted to flip it in a positive way,” McCawley told Good Morning America. “It was brutish. I was upset. I’m a father of a 12-year-old girl and I’ve got five sisters. The way that women are treated is pretty personal as far as I’m concerned.”

Well done, Daniel, for a very clever response to a very stupid review (which Urbanspoon has since deleted). And by the way, those potato skins look so delicious.

(Photo: Facebook)

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.