Q: Steve, What’s the best way for a small business owner to respond to negative reviews online? And to eliminate them from search results?
A: There are several things you can do to manage your online reputation.
It’s important to keep your emotions in check when this happens. Rarely does someone post a negative review that seems reasonable. And, it also doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. Sometimes people just have a bad day and you’re the trigger for them to vent.
Smart business owners also realize that negative feedback can be a tremendous opportunity to learn and improve your service. It’s also an opportunity (possibly) to win that person back and make them a customer for life if they feel you’ve made an effort to resolve their issues.
To that end, here are some best practices.
1) Regularly monitor review sites to see what people are saying.
2) Do your best to respond to the person leaving the negative review.
If you are checking regularly and you see a negative review, very often you can figure out who the customer is who has an issue. Call them up and ask how you can resolve the problem to their satisfaction.
Some sites do allow the business owner to respond to negative reviews right on the web page. Be sure to claim your profile as the business owner. You may even be able to get an email notification if someone leaves an online review. Best practices for responding on the website:
- If you can respond, it is best not to dispute what a negative reviewer has posted.
- Instead, you might want to post a comment inviting that person to contact you. E.g., “Sam, that sounds very frustrating and we’re sorry that you had a negative experience. Could you please call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx so that we can help you resolve this issue?”
- You can also post a comment thanking someone for an especially positive review, if you want.
3) In order for negative reviews to not hurt your business, you want to do your best to encourage a large number of positive reviews.
- Whenever someone expresses appreciation for your service, invite them to leave a review.
- Feel free to share the URLs for review sites on your website or in your email signature.
It can be valuable to use a professional service provider to help with online reputation management. Part of the MoxyBoost Local SEO service from Cloud Mountain Marketing includes reputation management tools to monitor online reviews and encourage positive reviews.
Steve Johnsen is a marketing strategist, a business coach, and the Founder of Cloud Mountain Marketing. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 best-seller, 5 Easy Steps to Make Your Website Your #1 Employee.