In my last two posts I reviewed how online business reviews can impact local SEO and what you can do to make any impact positive. As your business works toward building customer reviews, you will likely receive at least one that is not welcomed. Some reviews may cause you embarrassment or rage. That’s natural. Keep in mind, however, that getting a bad review is not the end of the world – nor the end of your business.
A negative review or two could even help increase sales, as it makes your positive ones seem more credible. Although a lot of negative reviews can damage your business reputation, what can really create an impact on your business is how you respond to reviews, or don’t respond.
Threats of lawsuits, ones considered to be a SLAPP, filed by business owners after customers left negative reviews have backfired, causing the businesses more grief than a negative review ever would have. If the review is untrue or vindictive, then it is certainly your right to pursue a take-down, even if that requires legal action. Just be sure you understand what you might be getting into when you do.
Aside from drastic measures such as demanding a takedown and filing a lawsuit, what should you do if your business receives a negative review? Should you respond?
In Responding to Negative Reviews – Your Prospects are the Real Audience, a guest blog post at local search expert Mike Blumenthal’s Understand Google Places and Local Search, Ted Paff says you should never respond to a negative review unless you can own the issue and explain how future customers will not have the same issue.
If possible, your business should do so. When a prospect reads a negative review about your business, don’t you think it is better that they also see a response that shows your company cares? Guess that would depend on the response.
In the post, Ted offers guidelines for responding to negative reviews and says “Writing a short, non-defensive reply to a review that owns the issue, describes how the issue has been resolved (maybe includes an offer to fix the issue) will earn you the trust of your future customers.” Click the link above to read his recommendations.
Lisa Barone at Outspoken Media also offers good tips for responding to negative reviews. “Not all bad reviews are created equal,” she says, so she explains when you should respond to negative reviews as well as how.
What about responding to positive reviews? If you have the time to do so, go for it! Engaging with your customers helps increase the likelihood of repeat business and shows prospects that you are responsive.
Have additional advice to offer or stories to tell about responding to reviews? We want to hear it! Share in the comments section below.