Reputation Management: Responding to Bad Reviews Online

thumbs-down-largeIt might just be me, but with over 70% of adults using social media, people seem to be getting pretty opinionated.  Not only do we have to deal with friends complaining about the weather EVERY TIME it rains, but now people are getting online review crazy.  I know it’s useful, because I’ve used reviews to pick which new place in town I’d visit for dinner.  But, do you ever feel like certain people are in it just for the attention? 
Sometimes people just have an off day.  But what really drives customers to review negatively online?  Most likely, it’s due to poor customer service.   It’s likely that service that didn’t fix the problem in the first place, giving them more reason to take it a step further and review.  So what can businesses do to utilize bad reviews, and have them work in their favor?
–  The first thing is to monitor online review sites.  If your business doesn’t know that bad reviews are out there, there’s nothing you can do to fix it.  By monitoring these sites daily, customers can receive an almost immediate response, making your business look alive, and like you care.
–  Have a plan in mind!  Come up with some different examples of online review responses.  Research how other businesses in your field respond.  Understand how you can turn negative reviews into positive new business, and keep that mindset.
–  Ask yourself, why do customers want to put this review out in the public?  It could be that they want to look credible, or want to know that the business actually cares about them.  Respond like you’d want to be responded to.  Don’t get personal.  Keep it to the point.  Remember, feedback is helpful, whether bad or good.  Thank your reviewers.
–  Offer the reviewer a solution.  This doesn’t mean your business has to start handing out free stuff; you can let your customers know that their feedback is helping to keep the problem from happening again.
–  Don’t ignore reviews, because they’re not going anywhere.  And who is most likely reading these reviews?  Prospects.  Showing that your business is concerned with online conversation also shows your interest in customer opinions.  Who doesn’t want to feel like their opinion is valuable? 
Having a few negative reviews about your business can actually make the good reviews more credible.  Responding in a timely manner, and in a polite and kind way makes your business look more credible. Customers you respond to might be inspired to purchase because of the time you’ve invested in validating their concerns.  Just remember to be sincere and offer a solution!