It doesn’t matter how good the customer service at your business is, haters gotta hate. Its a fact of life. Online review sites like Google Places and Yelp seem to be a great outlet for those haters so its almost inevitable that your business will suffer from negative reviews at some point. So what are you going to do about it?
The first step is to claim your page if you haven’t already. Most review sites allow you as the business owner to take control of your business’ page and update it with the most current information. After you’ve claimed your page many of these sites have started to include a handy feature that allows the owner of the business to respond publicly to negative reviews. Yelp will let you send a private message to the reviewer or respond publicly.
The last thing you want to do is get angry back at the reviewer. That won’t help anyone. Even if your negative reviewer is beyond help, use your response as a chance to show off to other potential customers. You can turn the negative review into something very positive. People will gain respect for you if they see you’ve taken the time to publicly apologize and correct whatever went wrong.
You may want to give some kind of peace offering, such as a free meal if they come back in and talk to you. Careful doing that though because giving out free stuff could be considered asking for more negative reviews. Try doing that through a private message.
The other tactic in dealing with negative reviews is to overwhelm the one or two negative reviews with positive ones. Most people will not even pay attention to a negative review if it is the minority. Don’t go the route of spam reviews, however. Customers can also detect when reviews are fake and overly praising and that can hurt more than help.
The best route to go in getting positive reviews is through your current customer base. Encourage all of your customers to review you online. Offer some kind of incentive or discount if they bring in a print out of their review. If you have a newsletter include reminders as the people reading the newsletter are most likely your dedicated customers who would give you a good review. Include a link to your Google Places or Yelp page on your website.
Reviews are a great blessing and curse when it comes to Local Search Engine Optimization. So do everything you can to turn them into a tool to generate more business rather than hurt it.