Nothing is more frustrating for a small business owner than to realize that the first thing that pops up whenever you search a website like Yelp or Google for your business is a negative customer review. These reviews carry a ton of weight with potential customers and can seriously impact your bottom line. Businesses that handle negative reviews poorly can become hated on social media and can experience outright boycotts that drive them to failure. If you find that you've got some bad reviews online, consider taking these steps to address them.
Don't threaten to sue the people who left the negative review. Not only is this illegal in some places, it also shows that you're unable to handle criticism and makes you look unreasonable. Even if the customer is lying in the review, threatening to sue them looks unprofessional and may cause your business to be flagged as litigious by the platform the comment was made on. If you get to the point where you're calling customers names or threatening them, appreciate that no one thinks you're winning and you've totally lost control.
An angry customer is a vocal one. If you see negative feedback online, quickly and professionally respond to the comment. Invite the customer back to your business and address their concern seriously. This isn't to say that you need to roll over and be a punching bag, but when other readers see that you respond to criticism well they are more likely to give you some latitude. After all, we all make mistakes and fixing them shows that you've got integrity and a sense of customer service.
Encourage Customer Reviews
What's a great way to address a bad review? Drown it out with tons of positive ones! Encourage your favorite clients to leave reviews on major websites. Offer check-in specials or discounts for those who offer reviews and you'll not only get a better online presence, you'll also see that your business will pop up in search engine results due to the increased traffic of your page.
Deal With Outrageous Reviews
If a bad review is outright defamatory or alleges that you've done something illegal or dangerous, speak to an attorney. The place to address threatening reviews is in a court, not online. People understand that the one ultra-negative review that alleges things that are too crazy to believe may have been written by a crazy person. They won't hold it against your business, but if you're concerned for other reasons pursue your legal remedies.
These are just a few ways that you can address negative reviews online. Hire a PR firm, like Alpine Communications, to do reputation damage control and start spreading the good word again. Active engagement and a commitment to customer service will help keep the good reviews and cash coming into the till!