Online Reviews and the Success of Your Business
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What Do Online Reviews Have to Do with Your Business and Its Success?

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We’ve all heard about how notoriously sinister Yelpers can be.  In one review, they can bring a business to its knees and make its owner cry out in mercy.  Yelp seems to be the popular place for people to go before visiting an establishment for the first time.  The online review site paints a picture of cities around the globe, the businesses that make up their neighborhoods, and the men and women that choose to run them and it isn’t always pretty.

The Wrong Review Can Cost You Customers

Reviews are instantaneous and often damaging.  Just ask the string of retailers suing customers for defaming their businesses right now.  If you think it’s limited to Yelp, you’re very, very wrong.  A business just made national news when they filed lawsuit against a customer who posted a slanderous Amazon review.  So, if a negative review can affect your business in a detrimental way, can a positive review help you win the trust of customers?  The answer is “Yes, if the review is genuine.”

Take one look at Craigslist and you’ll see ads for review posters all making an appearance in nearly every major city.  The seemingly innocent ‘job’ of creating positive reviews for a company or brand is actually anything but.  A trained eye can spot a canned review from a million miles away by the number of exclamation points it contains.  Hiring someone that hasn’t even tried your products or services to write a review for you is equally as loathsome as receiving an unfavorable or unfair review from a customer.

Tips for Surviving a Bad Review

The last thing you want to do if you’ve received a bad review is lash out publicly at them.  This makes you appear unprofessional and can cost you even more customers.  Instead, try the following.  You’ll maintain grace and slowly regain the trust of the people who frequent your business.

Here’s how you can survive a bad review:

  • Remember that everyone has a right to an opinion.  That does not, however, make them right.  Keep in mind that there are people in the world that get joy out of causing business owners pain.  Do not entertain them by being a part of their negativity.  Save the mud-slinging for the politicians.
  • Comment on every negative review.  Keep your reply courteous and offer some form of solution.  If the wait staff was slow, offer a free appetizer to your customer the next time they come in.  If the product that you advertised was out of stock, offer to call the customer as soon as a new shipment comes in.  No one can argue with this logic.  If it’s broke, fix it!  Say sorry even if you feel like it wasn’t merited.
  • Be creative with your approach.  If you know that you’re not going to please everyone, be creative with how you deal with the feedback.  One pizza place in San Francisco turned a negative into a positive by printing its one star reviews on t-shirts.  The comical comments helped the business gain the attention of new customers by erasing all the negativity that took place.  That’s a genius way of shifting the energy created by a negative review.

Online reviews are powerful.  If you haven’t thought much about them, now is the time to do so.  You can use them to gain customer trust, help launch new products and services, and communicate directly with the people responsible with making your business a success.  Once you know how to solicit positive reviews and answer bad reviews, you’ll have an easier time dealing with the attention your business receives any given day.

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