I know way too many small-business owners who are afraid to put their businesses on Yelp or other online review sites because they’re terrified one bad review will put them out of business. Yes, we’ve all heard some horror stories, but the reality is most savvy consumers recognize that one bad review does not a bad business make. The way you respond to negative reviews is far more important than anything customers may say. AllBusiness recently shared some strategies for handling poor reviews so they don’t “go viral.”
Have a game plan in place. The time to figure out how you’ll respond is not in the heat of the moment—if you wait until something happens, you’re likely to get defensive, which only makes matters worse.
Respond in a personal manner. It’s important that your response be sincere and tailored to the issue. The worst thing you can do is put up what reads like a “canned” reply.
In my experience, once you’ve made contact with the reviewer on the site, it’s best to ask them to contact you offline (by phone or email) so you can get more information and offer to resolve the problem. Ideally, you want to avoid doing this on the website in case the person is unreasonable.
Once the issue is resolved, see if the customer will post a follow-up to his or her negative review or possibly even remove it. Don’t assume removal is the best option—seeing how you turned an unhappy customer around can actually be a better ad for your business than a bunch of 5-star reviews.
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