The great thing about online reviews for your business, is that they build the kind of trust that you cannot buy. There is still an element of distrust on the internet because there is no face to face interaction and people have been burnt in the past with poor service. So having a trail of positive reviews can work very well in your favour online.
They can however be potentially damaging if someone leaves a bad review about your business, because they are very hard to control, almost impossible to get removed and they can remain online for years to come.
The key to success is to take a proactive approach to managing these reviews so that you get the good, keep out the bad and reap the rewards for your efforts.
How to build good reviews:
– Encourage happy customers to leave reviews and give them a ‘how to’ guide with clear instructions on how to leave reviews and where you prefer them to leave reviews.
Where to get reviews:
– Google Places/Google Plus because of their visibility in Google Search Results
– Directory websites such as True Local.
– Industry related websites, for example if you own a restaurant then sites like Urbanspoon are great.
How to deal with bad reviews before they happen:
– Solve issues with unhappy clients before they escalate, unhappy clients are much more likely to leave feedback than happy ones and with the power of the internet, they can tell a lot more people than just their friends.
– Get a list of common complaints, most of these complaints will be in your email inbox, fix them about your business and train your staff to be ready for common issues and how to resolve them quickly.
Dealing with bad reviews if they happen:
– Search for them. A lot of people don’t know there are bad reviews until someone else points them out to them.
– Google your business name or your staff members names with terms next to it such as ‘reviews’, ‘feedback’, ‘rip off’ every 3 months to keep on top of the ones that may not be on familiar websites.
– Try to get in contact with the person that wrote the review, try to negotiate on a personal level, resolve the issues they have and see if they can remove the review.
– If the reviews are unfair or personal attacks or the comments are vilifying in any way, you may have grounds to apply to get them removed with the owners or the website.
– You can try answering the review in the comments section, but be wary not to get in a comment war, just say that you apologise they had a bad experience, you would like to help resolve the issue and instructions on how to contact you directly. This will get the people that read the review on your side rather than thinking you are fighting with customers or covering up something.
My advice is to embrace reviews, they can be very good for your business but always be aware of what is out there because the internet is an open forum that practices free speech.
By David Pocock