It happens to even the nicest of people. Every so often, you’ll run into a customer who is having a bad day and decides to take it out on you. It used to be, that an unhappy customer would just tell some friends, but now, “telling some friends” usually involves telling the entire world in the form of a bad online review.
Small business owners may not even be aware of all of the different places to leave an online review. Yelp, Google, Yahoo, CitySearch, Urban Spoon and many other places could have bad reviews sitting there right now, and you don’t even know it.
So what do you do when faced with someone who leaves you a one-star review?
Number One – Know What’s Out There
You can’t combat negative comments without knowing what’s being said, so first and foremost you have to search for your name and your business name on a regular basis. You should make sure to claim your listing on all of the major websites where people leave reviews. That way you will be alerted when a new review goes up and you can respond as the owner of the business.
You can also set up a Google Alert that will send you a notification any time something new pops up online about yourself.
Number Two – Respond
When you get a bad review (it happens to everyone), you should respond on those sites that allow businesses to reply to users. Address the user. Apologize for whatever it was that went wrong and offer a solution. I’ve heard stores of business owners who knew the exact customer who left a bad review, and upon contacting them directly to resolve the problem, that user updated the review with a positive one.
Make sure that no matter what you say, you remain positive, upbeat and keep your comments constructive. These are very public forums and if you let your emotions get the best of you, it will reflect poorly upon your business and give credence to the negative reviewer. If you stay classy, it will illustrate your commitment to customer service.
Number Three – Ask Happy Customers to Leave Reviews
The best way to counter a bad review is to ensure you have plenty of good reviews. Ask loyal, happy customers if they would take a few minutes to leave you a positive review. These reviews will push the negative comment lower in the queue and will also help bring your average back up.
Nobody likes seeing a negative review online, but if you handle the situation with grace and confidence, you can minimize the damage done by one or two unhappy people.
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