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Every business, regardless of size, must constantly maintain a balance in managing its relationship with promoters, detractors and neutral customers.

In a perfect world, without the constraints of time or money, this question would not even surface, and everyone would be subject to royal treatment without making any associations with profitability. But your business doesn’t operate in a utopian vacuum; rather, at every moment, you must make decisions related to the management of individual customers, and these decisions should be mainly dictated by the bottom line.

So: what are you supposed to do about critics and negative reviewers on sites like Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare? In the face of consumer-generated content, how do you manage your online reputation?

Excellence Across The Board

As a matter of sound corporate culture, when it comes to training, product development and delivery, it is a good idea to set the standard high. By establishing a culture of excellence, you will diminish the possibility of negative reviews, and you will be seldom cornered by review divas into a situation that demands service upgrades.

After all, why should someone be inclined to request an upgrade when the experience is already one of superior service?

(Check out: “9 Awesome Online Reputation Management Tips for Your Business”)

The 80/20 Rule

We have good news; the 80/20 rule applies to online engagement. The bulk of your happy customers will not voice their opinion on review websites. Happy customers often quietly show their support by their ongoing patronage, loyalty and word-of-mouth endorsements (offline).

Having said that, it is essential that you allocate resources and time to provide your quiet promoters the recognition they deserve. In doing so, you set the stage for increased affinity which may ignite the desire to engage online by providing highly positive reviews of your product or service. Most likely, 80 percent of the customers of every business belong to this category, and that is a great reason to be thankful.

(You can also make this extra easy by using ReviewTrackers’ free review request tool, designed to create customizable E-mail templates for requesting customer feedback and generating new reviews.)

As for the remaining percent – the critics – you must carefully measure the data that you have to try to identify the value of noisemakers. For the reviewer who has left a highly negative review, it is essential to understand that the possibility of recovery and regained loyalty through remedy is often low. On the other hand, vocal promoters present an interesting opportunity that should be evaluated with care. Paying attention to self-promoted review divas, if handled right, can be key to pushing your overall online scores up and improving your searchability as a result of content-dense reviews.

Tip: If you receive a negative review from a highly badged reviewer, study all of their reviews to identify patterns that may set the stage for the type of resolution you are willing to provide and the tone of your online response.

Dealing with the Diva

The review diva tends to prowl mainly among local brick and mortar businesses. He or she takes pride in conveying their intent to review your venue. These types range from the one that insinuates their influence to the more outspoken and bold character that does not hesitate to ask for a perk. How then do businesses react to this type of customer?

The answer is easy. If the request is reasonable and does not affect or reduce the customer experience of others present at the time, and if it does not negatively impact revenues, go ahead and consider indulging the diva. To maximize the opportunity, task your most qualified team members to service him or her. Their goal should be to plant ideas and introduce the customer to the full experiential spectrum and allow them to have more tidbits to share online. Many local, non-chain restaurants go as far as carefully plating the food for the diva and encouraging food photography.

By taking this approach, businesses can turn the tables and regain control of the interaction. Pairing this strategy with business intelligence tools that provide the full picture will, without doubt, result in increased online presence and a positive trending line in your overall online ratings and social scores.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.