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Managing Negative Online Reviews

March 11, 2014

If you were a consumer in the 90’s, you might ask your friends or family for a business referral or suggestions on where to dine before you spend your hard earned money. If someone made a positive suggestion about a specific restaurant, you may have felt more comfortable about trying it for the first time. Similarly, if you had a place in mind that but somebody told you about a bad experience they had there, you might decide not to try it. Nowadays, more people are turning to online reviews for suggestions instead of the “word on the street”. It’s important for business owners to recognize this. Your business’ online reputation can have a detrimental effect on its overall success.

So how do we manage our reputation on review sites such as Yelp once it’s been compromised?

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  1. Stay calm. It’s important not to respond to a nasty review until you have cooled down and taken time to understand the review. Try not to be reactive and research the incident by communicating with your staff to hear their possible side of the story prior to replying to the review.
  2. Ensure that you respond to the customer with tact. It’s only natural to feel hurt or angry when someone posts a negative review about your business, but responding defensively will only make things worse. Never blame the customer. When communicating with them, keep it professional. Make sure to thank them for visiting your business and apologize for the negative experience.  If possible, correct the problem. Sometimes you just need to improve a procedure, so ask the reviewer for their input. In other situations, you might offer some kind of compensation or a special invitation at a reduced cost, but don’t bribe.
  3. Stay consistent. Your response to negative reviews is a great opportunity to show customers that you take full responsibility for any concerns or dissatisfaction that your customers may have.  When responding to negative online reviews, other potential customers will see that you are engaged and that you care about your customers. Responding and resolving a bad review can turn into a positive outlook for your business.

In the growing world of technology, consumers are relying more and more on the internet to provide them with the information they need to carry out their daily tasks. The most effective way to correct any negative online reviews is to prevent them from happening. Through exceptional customer service, you can ensure that your business’ online reputation isn’t something you’d have to defend.

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