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Online reviews are often perceived as the truth serum for a business, a gauge by which potential customers decide if they'll do business with you. Many reviewers have no issue being brutally honest, especially when they've had a bad experience.

The Influence of an Online Review

According to a recent ReportLinker report, 78% of people believe online reviews are at least "somewhat reliable." The report also found that 59% of online shoppers see these reviews as being as trustworthy, the same as a review given by a friend.

It's likely that at some point in time your business will receive a negative online review. Whether or not those reviews affect your future buyers' decisions is entirely based on how you respond.

So if you get a bad online review, what should you do?

Acknowledge the Situation

One big mistake business leaders make is not responding to negative reviews. You can’t just ignore it until it goes away. If a customer brought a complaint to you in person, would you ignore them? 

Even if  you may feel the review has no merit, you should still acknowledge the negative review. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Your negative review is shown to the world (including your potential future customers). 
  • Interaction shows others that you value customer feedback, and if there's a problem, you'll correct it and ensure it doesn't happen to another customer. When people see a company engaging and responding online, it shows that they care.

Your acknowledgment of the situation should sound something like this: "I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience."  This is simply an acknowledgment, not an admission of guilt. 

Move the Conversation Offline 

Never argue with a person who left a negative review or go into a lot of detail onlineThe goal is to acknowledge the situation, figure out a solution to the problem and offer a remedy, not an explanationYour response could look something like this: 

“I'm sorry to hear that service was not provided in a timely manner. I know your time is valuable and I want to make it right. Please call me at your earliest convenience at 813-555-1212. I look forward to speaking with you."

Proactively Request Online Reviews

Collecting feedback from a customer is always a good idea but it can also be a great strategy for combating negative reviews. One way to solicit reviews is to pull together a list of current Twitter followers, and send targeted tweets, asking them to provide honest feedback about the company. In your tweet, include a short link to one of the big review sites, such as Google, G2Crowd, or Facebook.

Track Online Reviews

Having ongoing insight into reviews, helps you address them. Set up daily reminders to check for new reviews on platforms including Google, Glassdoor, Facebook and other social media outlets. Reviews are often one of the first things that come up in a Google search, so it's important to track and manage them. Tracking reviews from competitors is also good practice. Doing so will give you invaluable competitive insight.

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