84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!
It's no secret that online reviews are extremely important for your small business. According to a recent Bright Local report, "85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 48% of them need at least a four-star rating before they consider choosing one!"
Understandably, many of us small business owners are leery about allowing customers leave reviews on their site or social media because it always seems like unhappy customers are much more likely to want to tell the world, while happy customers simply don't think about it. While statistics confirm this to be true, at the end of the day there's no way to prevent customers from talking about your business. There are simply too many channels with which they are able to do so, and honestly it's a good thing for them AND for you. You want people to see you appreciate and respect their perspectives, good and bad, even if it is sometimes subjective. This fear is often misguided because any review, good and bad, can be used to establish credibility and trust with future and existing customers.
Use customer reviews as an opportunity to give your customer community a voice. For good or for bad let them know you respect their opinion and are willing to listen. As small business owners we are always looking to improve anyway, so they deserve our time. For positive reviews, you want to be quick to acknowledge and thank them publicly. For negative reviews, believe it or not, you still want to be quick to acknowledge them and respond publicly because your goal here is to persuade the customer to contact you and work out a resolution. As consumers are reading more reviews, they are also reading the replies to reviews. If you sound angry in your reply, it will do more harm than good, and that reviewer will not contact you to resolve the issue. You can respond to those reviews in a positive way that actually helps your customers, your business, AND your online reputation.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with those negative reviews: