In previous blogs we’ve featured a series of posts that explained the importance of online customer reviews. We also gave a tutorial on how your customers can post a review for your company on Google.

Here’s some of what we covered.

a. We discovered that positive customer reviews can influence search engine results.
b. We learned that a staggering number of consumers read and use reviews as reassurance that their decisions are the right ones. One study claimed that “72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more” (Anderson 2014).
c. In addition, we talked about the value of asking your customers to write a review, and how they can do this on the Internet’s powerhouse, Google.

If you’re a small business owner who has incorporated online reviews as part of your SEO marketing strategy, then amoung the many reviews you receive it is likely that you may eventually receive a negative review at some point in your company’s existence.

So today we’re going to focus on how best to respond to a negative review.

With online reviews, complaints can be broadcasted to millions of readers with just a click of the mouse. But don’t let one bad review send you into a tailspin. A prompt and appropriate response will show future customers that you care about your patrons and your business. The conceivable goal is to minimize damage and to do so in a sincere, rational manner.

1. Research the Issue

For starters, it is always important to get to the bottom of the issue at hand. If you were not present during the particular situation, talk to your employees that were involved. Get their point of view. Look for issues that you can explain or reasons for the complaint. If the mistake was on the part of your company, own it. Was the steak overcooked? Did this customer receive poor customer service? Say s and admit it. Then let your customers know that you are working on these issues so that they do not happen again. On the contrary, if the review is unwarranted, state your case in a polite and professional way.

2. Apologize

They say a simple apology goes a long, long way! However, journalist for Internetreputation.com, Jean Dion, warns how you must be careful with building that apology. While apologizing is very important, she explains, “In some cases, the screw-up is really yours but in other cases, the issue doesn’t lie with your company at all. And that can mean the difference between: “I’m sorry we messed up,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” After you’ve investigated the incident you should know in which direction your sentence should proceed.

3. Be Transparent and Appreciative

Karen Schloss, owner of a hospitality consulting company, advises that when replying to a review, the owner or the manager should identify themselves by name and title. She suggests that a phone number should also be included in case the customer wants to discuss an issue further. The response should be transparent as you do not want to appear that you are hiding anything.
And take note of this equally important point – take the time to thank those customers who left you positive reviews. This shows your appreciation for their time and patronage and that you care about the reputation of your small business.
Here are 3 examples of appropriate replies to reviews.

And this link explains step by step how to reply to your customers online reviews.
https://support.google.com/business/answer/6001256?hl=en

4. Stop and Take Action

Lastly, after you have responded to the review, if your research determined there could be a potential ongoing issue, make sure you take action. If it was an isolated incident that is unlikely to occur again, you can rest easy.

I will leave you with this last piece of advice by Ivy Lamb, Manta Webinar Editor, which I believe is very important to keep in mind: “A handful of bad reviews won’t hurt your business’ reputation if you’re transparent and work on providing outstanding customer service.”
Your business is only as good as the service and/or goods you provide. By responding professionally will indicate you care about your customers and you care about your brand!

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