Ask a digital marketing agency: How should my business handle negative online reviews?

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Ask a digital marketing agency: How should my business handle negative online reviews?

Small business owners understand that online reviews are important, but in some cases, negative reviews aren’t warranted. If you receive negative reviews, how should you handle them?

Several years ago, we came across a news story about a small business owner on the West coast, who received several negative online reviews. However, the person who posted the comments had never patronized their business.

The dispute, according to a local news station, arose out of someone who was unhappy that the local business association hired a private security company to usher transients out of the business corridor. The woman who posted the reviews felt the practice was unfair, and she chose to retaliate by posting negative online reviews against several restaurant and clothing boutique owners who contributed to the decision to hire the security firm. This caused numerous headaches for the business owner.

And while some platforms, such as Google+, allow business owners to flag suspicious reviews, having them removed is often easier said than done.

So how do you fix the problem, whether the review is warranted or not?

Digital marketing firms often suggest that you respond to negative comments quickly.  Customers (who have legitimate complaints), often expect a response within an hour of their complaint. It’s also suggested that you respond publicly, i.e., post a comment to what they’ve written.

Second, don’t explain why the customer may have encountered the problem. The customer likely doesn’t care if your business was having technical issues or if you were short on staff. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your business. For example, you can note that you’ve been serving the community for X years and that your business prides itself on its commitment to customer service. Refrain from using inflammatory language and explain that if a mistake was made, let the customer know you want to be proactive in fixing it.

You should also offer a solution. Were they unhappy with a meal or dining experience? Invite them back in for a free, comparatively priced meal. Were they unhappy with a product? Tell them they can return (or exchange it), no questions asked.

In closing

If you’ve received one or more negative online reviews, there are steps you can take to fix this problem. For more information about how to handle this correctly, or to learn more about how working with a digital marketing agency can help ensure negative reviews won’t impact your SEO ranking, call WBN Marketing today to speak with an expert.