Online reviews have become commonplace as part of the shopping experience for consumers seeking local services. In fact, a recent Local Consumer Review Survey showed that 92% of consumers read online reviews, and 40% of consumers form an opinion after reading just 1-3 reviews. What’s more is that the star rating has become a leading factor by which consumers judge a business. This means that even one or two negative reviews of your business on sites like Yelp or Google+ could have a significant impact as potential customers search for services online. While standard practices of popular review sites will not let you simply delete most negative reviews, you can reduce the negative press of these reviews by joining the conversation and responding to customers who have had bad experiences with your business. Read on to discover more about the best strategies for handling negative reviews with ongoing reputation management.
Find the Source of the Review
Legitimate reviews from real customers will not usually be taken down by the review site, regardless of how negative the reviews are, because review sites are intended to serve as a forum for customers to share their experiences. You can, however, have non-legitimate reviews—those written by direct competitors, for example—taken down by contacting the review site directly and identifying the source of the review.
Respond to Legitimate Negative Reviews
Ignoring a one- or two- star review can be a detrimental step for your reputation management, because negative reviews actually present opportunities to offer great customer service. When you respond to negative reviews, you are not only taking important steps to turn a bad experience with your company into a positive one, but you are showing prospects that you care about customer satisfaction. In some cases, you might discuss the issue on the open forum of the review site, or it may be more appropriate to offer the customer a chance to resolve the issue via phone or email. In either situation, you will want to be polite and take strides to highlight the positive aspects of your business.
Encourage Clients to Post Positive Reviews
One negative review will be much less impactful when it is among a long list of positive customer reviews. While you should not offer direct incentives to get customers to post positive reviews, you might simply encourage clients to like your business on popular review sites. Of course, offering great customer service is the first step in prompting positive reviews, but you might also make it easier for customers to post reviews by using widgets from review and social sites on your own website.