The Good, The Bad, and The Nasty

Some people are very angry. Can you blame them? With everything that is going on in the world right now.

And what happens when people get angry about your business? For whatever reason. Maybe…

  • They didn’t like the way their steak was cooked.
  • They didn’t think the server was being attentive.
  • They didn’t like the way the person at the counter looked at them when cashing out.
  • The construction in front of your business was a real pain for them to get into your lot. (Not your fault, btw.)

So what do they do? They want to tell the world about how you screwed up and make you pay. How do they do that… Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and everyone’s favorite site to complain on… YELP!

Online reviews are a fact of life for every business. As online consumers ourselves, we’re more likely to trust a business that has good online reviews. So, what happens when you get a negative review?

Do you ignore it and hope it goes away? Respond in anger? Or maybe just delete the review altogether? We’ll show you how to respond to online reviews – both the good, the bad, and the nasty – in a way that will maintain your online reputation!

Why Online Review Sites Are Important For Local Business

Adding Credibility

Online reviews are important for small businesses because they help to build trust and credibility with potential customers. And it’s the first thing your new potential customers do before coming to your business. Check you out online.

People will believe what others have to say about you more than what you can say. It’s like getting a recommendation from a friend that you trust. But no matter how great you are, eventually, negative reviews will appear. People will take the negative ones with a grain of salt when the positive ones outweigh the negative ones.

Case in point, we were researching Mexican resorts and we checked the negative reviews. One of them was, “there were too many seeds in the watermelon at the breakfast buffet.” Which we quickly discredited as a valid complaint and relied more on the numerous positive ones.

Your Reviews Get You Noticed

Your online reviews also help to improve your business’s search engine and review site ranking, which leads to more traffic and more new customers. When you search your business’s format in your town, you must come up in the first page of results, either with your own business website or the relevant review sites and Google listing. No one goes to the second page of Google Search Results.

When most of your online reviews are positive, they can help improve your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is because they show search engines that your business is credible and trustworthy. In addition, online reviews can also help attract new customers who are looking for businesses like yours.

However, online reviews can also have a negative impact on your SEO. This is when online reviews are negative and contain information that is untrue about your business. To protect your online reputation, it is important to respond to both positive and negative online reviews.

Say It Isn’t So

Additionally, online reviews can be used to identify areas of improvement for a business proving that your business cares about creating a better experience for your current customers.

Often customers have valuable feedback for improvements, or changes that they hesitate to share while they are in your business, but they are comfortable going online, where they can offer suggestions that can help you improve your products and services. By responding to online reviews, you can show that you appreciate their customers’ feedback and are committed to providing a high-quality experience.

Many times, your customers will have solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had, a poorly trained staff member, a flawed system, an inferior product. Sometimes suggestions are simple, like adding a coat hook to a bathroom door, and sometimes they are more complex, like improving an online ordering system. Either way, knowing where your flaws are gives you the opportunity to fix them.

People like to be heard when they offer a suggestion for improvement. If you respond with appreciation and possible actions on their suggestions, it goes a long way to creating a satisfied and more loyal customer. Current customers then feel connected to your business, and a potential customer will know that they will feel valued by you.

Making a point to respond to online reviews will help you build better relationships with your customers and improve your online reputation, without question.

How Do You Manage Online Reviews?

When it comes to online reviews, it’s important to remember that there are three types: the good, the bad but usually reparable, and the nasty that is just plain hurtful. As a business owner, you want to make sure that you respond to all types of reviews in a way that preserves your online reputation mitigates any damage.

The Good Reviews

When you receive a positive review, be sure to thank the customer for their kind words and let them know how much you appreciate their support. It’s important to be polite and professional.

The key is to be personal. Readers recognize a standard response when you use the same thing over and over again. It can be pre-formatted for ease, but add in a personal line, relating specifically to what they mention in their review, and use their name! Making it personalized makes a huge difference.

An example:

“Hi Dan, thank you for taking the time to share details about your recent visit. We’re thrilled to hear that the (dish) was enjoyable, it’s our secret recipe! We value your feedback and appreciate your support. We look forward to the next opportunity to serve you!”

The Negative Reviews

If you receive a negative review, don’t panic! Negative reviews provide an opportunity for businesses to improve their customer service. These days they call it a “growth opportunity,” and if you can put aside your initial emotional response, there’s probably a grain of truth and room for improvement.

Take a few minutes and a few deep breaths. It will not serve you well to be reactive. Instead, apologize for any inconvenience they experienced and try to resolve the issue. Tell them what action you will be taking, improving the training of a specific team member, identifying a problem with a process or product.

An example:

“Hi Cindy, we’re very sorry to hear about your experience and want to apologize for falling short on your online order. We are looking into this to see exactly what went wrong and will be using your comments for training purposes with our staff to ensure this doesn’t happen again to you or anyone else. We would be appreciative if you could contact us at XXX so we can make things right. Thank you, and hope to hear from you soon.”

Address the reviewer’s concerns and try to resolve the issue. Your goal is to make it right for them, and ideally, you take the conversation offline to resolve it personally. When they contact you offline because of your response, you can offer a certificate or other incentive to encourage them to give your business another chance in the future, or in really concerning cases, offer a refund or exchange.

The Nasty Reviews

Every so often, someone cuts deep. The review is so nasty that there is no way to console them or win them back. Even worse, they may be completely wrong about what they are saying about your business. In this case, the desire to be “right” is powerful but you have to resist.

This is likely a lost customer or a vindictive person, but their comments will be online forever, as will your response, so it is even more important to stay calm and professional. Do not attack the customer or make excuses for your business or tell them they are wrong. Do not engage in an online battle or do anything to provoke them further. Thank them for their feedback, tell them you’ll take it into consideration, and then move on. If it’s extreme, you can report it to the review site it was left on.

For even more details and examples about how to respond to negative reviews, Click Here.

Why Should I Care About Reviews?

Online Review Management

Reputation management is one of the most important aspects of doing business. It can be the difference between growing your sales and losing customer faith.

When it comes to responding to online reviews, you want to be sure that you handle them all in the same way – whether they’re good or bad. By responding to every review, regardless of its tone, you show your customers and clients that you care about their feedback. It also helps to keep your online reputation clean and polished.

Negative online reviews are inevitable. It’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time and sometimes things will go wrong. However, if you handle negative reviews well, they can improve your customers’ perceptions of you. This is because negative reviews are one of the most powerful forms of word-of-mouth marketing.

When your customers see that you’re responsive and care about their experience, they’re more likely to leave a positive, thoughtful review. So don’t be discouraged by a few negative reviews – instead, use them as an opportunity to improve your customer service and online reputation.

And remember, answer your reviews!


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Michael Thibault

Michael Thibault

Known as “The Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.

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