Online Reviews: Friend or Foe to Today’s Businesses?
It’s common knowledge that the internet has become a huge part of everyday life, whether it be personal or professional. People use it to stay connected to family and friends, for entertainment, to shop for everything from furniture to groceries and so much more. The world is also provided with limitless information including endless shared experiences and online reviews. Consumer behavior has changed over the years to where they now can research the experiences of others with a particular product or service and make their decision to purchase before ever setting foot in a store.
Some businesses will have a ton of online reviews, both positive and negative. Having people talk about your business online can be a great thing. It can help boost your credibility and your SEO. Positive online reviews are great; but, business owners also have the occasional run-in with negative online reviews. Consumers love to share their experiences and when they feel they have received poor service or a faulty product, they want to let the world know. Often business owners feel misrepresented or that they have received an unfair analysis of the way they do business. Also, they are concerned that there is no way to correct the situation and reclaim their good name.
Even though what is posted online is permanent, there are ways a business owner can handle online reviews in order to help their cause. The first, and most crucial, thing to do is to not take the negative reviews personal and remain positive. Try to get on neutral ground and see things from the consumer’s perspective. It’s important to avoid getting into an argument online or make a situation they felt was wrong, even more negative. Let the consumer, and the public, know that they are heard and your goal as the business owner is to correct the situation.
The next step is to be diligent in responding to each and every review. If a business owner is just now looking at addressing online comments, it’s okay to go back and post a response. It’s important to show the consumer that they’ve been heard and that the business is working towards fixing the issue and preventing it from happening again. It’s common for people to think they only need to address the negative online reviews however, it’s good practice to respond to the positive ones as well. This provides a great opportunity for the business owner to thank the consumer for their business and their feedback. Responding to all online reviews, in a positive manner, will help boost your online reputation and show how well you handle conflict and work to provide quality customer service.
Emily Young is a marketing manager for Affiliated Acceptance Corporation. Young has been in marketing and communications for over 10 years in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings. She also spent many years, prior to working for AAC, in the health and fitness industry. For more information call 800-233-8483 or email Emily.Young@affiliated.org.