Negative reviews are, unfortunately, a modern-day challenge of running a business. But in our digital world, the unflattering information found online can hurt a business. Alarmingly, not all negative reviews are founded in reality, and many businesses are left scrambling to figure out how to fight back against unwarranted bad reviews.
Here are a few tips on how business owners can do just that:
- Respond to negative reviews quickly. Reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook are highly visible. Because of this, you have a unique opportunity to respond to a reviewer’s concerns out in the open. Doing so shows other potential customers that you care about your business and that you are willing to openly resolve disputes. And in the case of a fake negative review, it’s a chance to come to your own defense by calling out the feedback as coming from someone with no association with your company.
- Ask your happy customers for reviews. Satisfied customers are usually more than willing to share their experiences with the world. There is no shame in asking your customers, “Are you happy with our service?” When the answer is “yes,” it’s perfectly acceptable to ask if they would be willing to leave a review. Do not offer discounts or special offers in return, however, as this can be seen as buying a paid review. You want your customers’ online comments to be genuine and accurately reflect the quality of products and/or services you’ve provided.
- Get – and stay – active on social media. While you cannot stop the odd negative review, when you are highly interactive with your customers, you are less likely to become a target. Make sure that you claim all of your business listings, and establish a solid online presence. Keep your social media accounts updated and regularly interact with public posts.
Where Reviews Matter Most
Although online reviews are integral to a business’s success, not all reviews carry quite as much weight as others. When you are ready to begin collecting reviews from your clients, there are three main areas you should focus on. The first is word-of-mouth.
Word-of-mouth reviews are ones from verifiable customers. They are often posted unprompted on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They might accompany a photo and a caption that summarizes their experience. You can encourage these types of reviews by creating a hashtag and challenging visitors to your establishment to get creative in their online postings.
Testimonials are the second type of review that other consumers give the most weight. Very similar to word-of-mouth, a testimony only differs in who it’s coming from or for what reason it was given. If possible, seek out industry experts or local influencers. Invite these individuals to test your products or services and to provide a testimonial in their own words. Testimonials may also come from current customers that you approach and ask specifically for a write-up.
Finally, you want to prioritize reviews on Google. The reason for this is that most people use this platform to look for a business or service first. When your results pop up, your goal is to have more stars than the competition.
Online reviews did not exist 20 years ago. But today, the feedback posted online about your business can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, you only have one chance to make a positive first impression, and a few negative reviews can cast a shadow on your reputation.
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