When Bad Comments Make Good Sense Online
When it comes to online reviews of your small business, it's important to remember that a few bad reviews won't kill it.
In fact, Lisa Barone believes that negative reviews may even help.
"Sound crazy?" Barone writes in a recent Internet post.
Before you answer that question, consider the five ways Barone says negative reviews can be good for business.
First, they give you legitimacy.
"What would you think when checking out a new business and saw nothing but glowing reviews and five stars? You'd think the reviews were fake. Or paid for," Barone says.
"We all make mistakes. And we all have bad days. If your online reviews are a true reflection of who you are, they'll account for some of those bad days.
"The simple fact is we trust a business more if there are at least some negative reviews, because it helps us feel like we're seeing both sides."
Second, you can identify and fix weak points in your product or service.
"Maybe your dresses run small and they should order up. Or maybe your waitresses don't spend enough time tending your customer's needs," Barone says. "Consumers value this information so they know what to expect. As a business owner, this is valuable information so you know what to fix."
And don't forget to thank the people who leave the negative comments.
"Once you know what's not working or areas where customers got tripped up, you can solve the problem and make the experience better for everyone," Barone says.
Third, you can show off your customer service skills.
"Onlookers need to see how much you value your customers," Barone says. "Consumers can tell a lot about a business by how they respond to criticism. If you handle the situation with grace, maturity and (when appropriate) humor, it tells them you're a business confident in what you offer and how you treat people in business.
"If you get defensive or argumentative, it tells consumers you're a business they may want to avoid. So respond wisely."
Fourth, you give your army a chance to respond.
"If someone has left a negative review on your business that you feel is unfair or undeserved, show it to some of your biggest supporters and ask what they think," Barone says. "If they feel the review is warranted, they'll tell you and then you can fix it. But if they don't, they're likely to go respond to that comment for you and help set the record straight.
"They'll actually come to your defense and serve as an army of support for your brand."
Finally, you can change the conversation.
"Negative comments about your business give you the chance to change the conversation and that person's experience," Barone says. "By responding maturely, validating the critique, and offering a promise to do better, you can significantly increase someone's impression of your brand. And, really, if someone is unhappy with your service, don't you want the chance to make it right?"
Barone comes by her list honestly. She is vice president of strategy at Overit, a Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company's marketing consulting, social media and content divisions.
Ignore her advice at your own peril.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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