Negative reviews of your small business service or products, dealt with correctly, have the potential to be turned into positive marketing tools. So, don’t ignore the reviews, bad or good. Your customers are watching.

Last week, I discussed options to negate a review if there was no truth to the content and you could prove there was a bias by the reviewer. But, what if the reviewer has a valid point, no matter what the reason for your business not satisfying the customer, and the fault is yours?

Face up to it. Respond quickly. It’s called Reputation Management.

According to a survey by Vendasta  (a white-label platform built to help B2B companies provide marketing solutions to local businesses):

  1. 92% of consumers now read online reviews Do you know how many sites there are beyond Yelp & Google? HubSpot lists 22. BrightLocal offers 300+ Niche Review Sites for 30+ Industries  Those suggest a vast field wherein your business reputation could be under the spotlight! If you have neither the skill nor time, Reputation Management should be left to professionals, such as Social Media Managers.

  2. 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews – This means it’s important to have and be aware of a large body of reviews (see #1), as customers are looking to read more reviews now than in all years past.

  3. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or fake reviews when they don’t see negative reviews – Call it “fake news” syndrome. Call it transparency. Call it “if something looks too good to be true” cynicism. A negative comment here and there actually makes you believable, so don’t try to remove them (see #2). Use them.

  4. 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews – They will hesitate, looking not only for you to respond, but how (see #3). Will you irrationally lash out? Will you whine with excuses? How do you treat their fellow customer? Is this how you will treat them if they have a problem?

  5. 95% of unhappy customers will return to a business if it resolves a negative review issue quickly and efficiently – Noted social media influencer Jay Baer wrote a book in 2016. A top-seller called Hug Your Haters. The essence of the book was that “haters” are not so much the problem of the small business owner as ignoring them is (see #4).

Show your customers that you think of them as a community of supporters instead of just walking dollar bills. By responding intelligently, compassionately and in a civil manner to negative reviews, you validate that you listen to customers, that you care about their feelings, and that you will work with them to provide the best shopping experience possible.

And if you are lucky, that will earn your business a follow-up positive review!

Your thoughts are ALWAYS welcome. Turn this into a conversation either here or on my Twitter account @amssvs Please feel free to check out the rest of my website as well.